David Ross Admits Trade Talk Has Been Distraction for Cubs

There’s a certain point at which tropes and cliches become too tired for even a seasoned baseball vet to bother using, and it appears David Ross has reached that point. Several members of his team have been embroiled in trade speculation throughout his entire tenure as Cubs manager and the team’s poor performance means Jed Hoyer is finally going to be selling at the July 30 deadline.

With that in mind, there’s really no need to avoid the notion that constant rumors and the threat of breaking up a core group that’s been together since 2015 has been a distraction.

“I think we would be naive to say it hasn’t affected [our play]” Ross said Sunday, per Patrick Mooney of The Athletic. “Looking up on the board at the numbers of these guys, it’s very uncharacteristic of who they’ve been, so that has to be a factor.”

Even if some of the foundational players do stay with the team past the deadline, and even if one or more are extended, the damage has been done. As strange as it sounds, getting any long-term deals done at the 11th hour might actually be worse from a strategic standpoint because it will have meant torpedoing the team in the meantime.

Unless, of course, the idea was to devalue players to the point of leveraging more team-friendly deals. I am not wearing my tinfoil hat and don’t believe for a second that has played a role in Hoyer’s thinking, I’m simply saying that’s the only way such a protracted non-negotiation process would make sense from a business perspective.

What we can say for certain is that not trading or extending anyone in the offseason means these rumors have only grown stronger over the last few months.

“When you create some narratives like that, it just adds a little bit of distraction, right?” Ross said. “You try not to (think about it). You try to control what you can control… It’s just the group that’s been together for so long and we got a number of free agents, so I think that’s natural.

“I don’t know, but I would assume, and you see the guys trying harder. When things did go a little bit sideways, it went sideways hard.”

It went sideways hard, all right, culminating in an 11-game losing streak that ran from late June into early July and turned the Cubs from buyers to sellers. Though it’s an oversimplification to say that skid changed everything, Hoyer’s outlook certainly shifted dramatically over that two-week stretch. Players’ attitudes changed as well, making all the outside chatter impossible to avoid.

Friday’s deadline still stands as a sign of hope for the Cubs and their fans alike, only now it’s rooted in the idea that the constant rumors will finally die. Well, at least until the offseason.

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