Already in place as the team to beat on the 2017 MLB futures odds, the Chicago Cubs won't rest on their laurels and be happy with just one World Series title.
It was bound to happen sooner or later, right? I mean, blind pigs occasionally find truffles, so why should we be so surprised that the Chicago Cubs ended their 108 year old 'curse' by winning the 2016 World Series?
We should not be amazed at all, in fact, at least not according to the MLB odds that were out during spring training. Chicago was a 1/2 pick to win the NL Central Division, and the Cubs followed through on that bet by a whopping 17½ games. They were 5/2 picks to win their first NL Pennant since 1945, which they accomplished by taking out the San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers, respectively, in the NLDS and NLCS.
And, finally, the Cubs were 5/1 to win it all at top sports books like Bookmaker. That mission was completed by coming back from a 3-1 World Series deficit against the Cleveland Indians and taking Game 7 in a 10-inning thriller.
How Does Theo Keep Good Times Rolling?
In the end, the hero wasn't World Series MVP Ben Zobrist. Nor was it either Anthony Rizzo or Kris Bryant, each of whom will get plenty of NL MVP consideration. It wasn't Jon Lester, who now owns the distinction of having World Series rings from the Red Sox and Cubs. And it wasn't flame-throwing reliever Aroldis Chapman, acquired near the trade deadline to shore up the back end of the bullpen.
No, the hero was one Mr. Theo Nathaniel Epstein, the front office wunderkind who will now go down in MLB history as a front office curse-breaker after serving as the architect for not only Chicago's 2016 title, but also the Boston drought-buster in 2004.
Epstein didn't look like a genius at first, Chicago finishing last in the NL Central his first three seasons (2012-14) as Cubs president before making a huge jump into the playoffs a season ago and now to World Series champions. But his wholesale rebuilding of the roster and farm system were indeed genius. Along with GM Jed Hoyer, Epstein made very savvy trades, like plucking Rizzo, a player he drafted while in Boston, from San Diego and practically stealing Jake Arrieta and Kyle Hendricks from the Orioles and Rangers, respectively.
Cubs Have Plenty Of Offseason Work To Do
Now, the really hard work begins for Epstein and manager Joe Maddon, another shrewd hire by Chicago. Like all MLB teams, a few key pieces are headed to free agency, the biggest name being Chapman who should command huge offers on the open market.
There will be contract extensions to work out for arbitration-eligible players such as Arrieta and Hector Rondon, the latter serving as Chicago's closer for a couple of seasons until Chapman's arrival this past July. Epstein and Maddon also have to think about what they're going to do with outfielder Jason Heyward, a free agent bust from this past winter when signed an 8-year, $184 million deal only to bat .230 with all of seven home runs.
Las Vegas seems to think Epstein and the Cubs will work all of these issues out, and then some. Chicago was installed as an early 3/1 favorite to win the 2017 World Series, and their closest competitors -- Dodgers, Nationals, Red Sox -- are near afterthoughts in the race at 10/1 on those same MLB futures.
For now, the Cubs and their fans will simply bask in the glory of this season. However things work out, the surest bet is SBR will keep you updated and ready to make winning baseball picks next season.