Bernstein: Cubs Fans Face New Offseason Reality

(CBS) They’ll end up with nobody for Gleyber Torres, the unsurprising breakout star of the Arizona Fall League who crushed with a slash line of .403/.513/.645 to win MVP honors and become the circuit’s youngest ever batting champion. The former Cubs prospect is still just 19.

Torres was the key piece flipped at last season’s trade deadline to the Yankees along with Billy McKinney, Adam Warren and Rashad Crawford for Aroldis Chapman, the closer who isn’t even negotiating with the Cubs at the moment in free agency in his pursuit of a $100-million contract. Close the book on that deal, then, and mark the ledger for all five names out the door, with no player involved left to show for it.

Say it to yourself again, and keep doing so when you feel yourself falling back into the same position of hopeful desperation that informed much of your entire earthly existence and every last feeling about topics like offseason transactions and optimizing another year’s roster for yet another hope against hope.

The Cubs are champions, and that changes everything. It will take some getting used to, adjusting to a world in which the pursuit of titles becomes more mundane business than a spiritual and sentimental quest, but this is what you wanted the whole time.

If and when the Cubs trade more prospects you know to bolster the bullpen or rotation, there’s no need to worry if Ian Happ or Jorge Soler or Eloy Jimenez or even folk hero Kyle Schwarber goes elsewhere and performs. You can now understand that they’re just resources in the same way they always truly have been, instead of the human talismans they once were, with so much possibility of the impossible attached to their respective futures.

The mere chance of the dream of winning the World Series doesn’t have to be represented by anything, anymore, nor somehow tied portentously to every personnel decision. It was all made manifest by the final out in Cleveland, and the parade and the rally and the month-long party and now the front of every Walgreen’s and CVS and Jewel/Osco filled with overpriced everything reminding you that the Cubs did what they did. You’re buying it, so buy it.

All of that went for Chapman and the Cubs would likely not have wonwithout him. The idea is that deals like that keep happening over and over again, as needed, with prospects turning into significant victories instantaneously, with little or no afterthought. This is the new math, in which hard evidence of success is the measure instead of squishy dreams and misplaced nostalgia.

The Cubs aren’t only in their championship window, but the center of it. Products of recent amateur drafts and those in the next three years, along with the many prescient international signings, don’t have to be celebrated anymore for what they could be someday down the road in Chicago. They can be celebrated for what they could bring or be in the now.

This is the now. That was just someday. The Cubs won the World Series, and they’re committed to doing everything in their power to go do it again right away, all of it happening in a rush that’s already hurtling toward a spring training that begins in mere weeks.

It feels like this, and may old habitual concerns about some fateful distant fortune be damned.