Cubs manager Joe Maddon reinforced his belief that team President Theo Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer will address a need if they sense one with the same urgency that landed the likes of Aroldis Chapman, Cole Hamels and Jesse Chavez in past deadline deals.
But Maddon echoed his bosses’ offseason line that the majority of the Cubs’ upgrades for 2019 probably will come from the current roster and not from a free-agent splash such as Bryce Harper.
In fact, when asked about Harper during an appearance for the Union League Boys & Girls Club on Tuesday night, Maddon said: “Not happening.”
“We feel as though all the ingredients are in the bowl already,” Maddon said before conducting a fireside chat for the club. “It’s already there. To just go out and purchase guys because some kids had a tough year is probably not good form.
“I’m all about development, as we’ve talked about. I’m with the guys, Theo and Jed, regarding trying to extrapolate more with the group we already have because there’s a lot more left. We’ve seen it. We’ve got to get it more out there consistently.
“I know that’s where the guys are coming from in the office. And just to go out and purchase players to purchase players, you might not be getting better than you already have.”
Maddon cited “specific items” to Happ and Schwarber — both former first-round draft picks — at the end of last year.
The lines of communication have extended to shortstop Addison Russell, who is undergoing a rehab program as part of serving his 40-game suspension for violating Major League Baseball’s domestic abuse policy.
The Cubs agreed to terms Friday on a one-year, $3.4 million contract with Russell, who won’t be eligible to return until May 3 if he remains on the roster.
“He seems to be in a good place,” Maddon said. “He’s really working to get things behind him and make sure he does and says the right things moving forward. It’s a maturation process on his part. He just has to know we support him, and we do.”
Maddon said he exchanged text messages recently with Russell and spoke with him during the holidays.
“He’s very excited about the progress he’s making,” Maddon said.
Maddon acknowledged that Russell, who hasn’t spoken publicly since late September, still faces “a lot of obstacles and tough questions.”
“But it’s just a matter of being honest and transparent about it,” Maddon said. “We understand what happened. Moving it forward, he understands and he’s taking culpability, responsibility for it. So now it’s about … having this young man realize the fullness of his potential as a human being first. And then as a shortstop second. And that’s where we’re at. He’s got my support doing that.”
Maddon’s Respect 90 Foundation will conduct its annual “Thanksmas” event Thursday in Chicago. He said his foundation won’t be affected by him entering the final year of a five-year contract with the Cubs with a revamped coaching staff.
“I always felt if you worked well and did your job, all that stuff would take care of itself,” Maddon said. “For me, that hasn’t changed. I still believe in those principles. My relationship cannot be better with the group right here.”
Maddon said the only negative part of his contract status is the perception that a rift has developed between him and the front office.
“There’s never been a disconnect,” Maddon said. “And that’s the only part I’ve not liked.”