Cubs sell high on Bryant, Rizzo, Arrieta and Lester, restock minor league system in blockbuster deals

CHICAGO — The first place Chicago Cubs were expected to make some moves by the non-waiver trade deadline today and did they ever, trading stars Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Jake Arrieta and Jon Lester in three separate deal that sets up the team with young minor league talent sure to be the envy of every franchise in baseball.

“I said from the day I was hired here in 2011 that I was going to build this team the right way, no matter how long it took,” said Theo Epstein, Cubs president of baseball operations, announcing the trades this afternoon. “I didn’t think this team in its present form is as good as I’d like us to be and that’s why I decided to move some of our most attractive major league assets. These four players, Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant, Jake Arrieta and Jon Lester, were never going to be worth more in the trade market and I was able to acquire very impressive prospects for all of them. I’ve always felt no player is un-tradeable for the right deal, and the offers for these guys were simply too good to turn down.”

The deals gut the heart of Chicago’s lineup and the top of their rotation with the Cubs holding a 7.5-game lead in the NL Central with a major league-best record of 63–41.

“We were a very good team,” said Epstein. “But this city isn’t waiting for very good since 1908. They’ve been waiting for a championship. They’ve been waiting for great. I think the players we traded for today can be the heart of a truly great team in four or five years — a team that can maintain greatness for several years. I thank Kris, Anthony, Jake and Jon for all they did to get us to this point.”

Epstein confirmed that the Cubs sent Lester and Arrieta to the Red Sox, while Rizzo was traded to the Cardinals and Bryant to the Dodgers. He said the full list of prospects obtained in return will not be released until they all pass physicals, but promised “they are some of the top players currently in Single-A baseball. It’s very exciting. Cubs fans just need to be patient a little bit longer.”