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They’ve been shedding longterm contracts and trading anyone of value in an effort to stock up the farm system ever since Epstein was hired, hoping the payoff will ultimately be the sort of championship success he enjoyed in Boston. So far, losses have been adding up at a staggering rate, but the record wasn’t the main reason for Sveum’s dismissal.

Player development was.

Castro and Rizzo, two key young players who have long-term contracts, each took a step back this year. Pitcher Jeff Samardzija also had an up-and-down season.

With Baez, Soler, Almora and Bryant are on the way, the Cubs made it clear they want to provide the right environment for their young players to develop.

Getting the most out of Castro, Rizzo and to some degree Samardzija will be the most immediate task for the new manager, assuming they’re not traded.

Castro continues to be a head scratcher, prone to lapses in the field, and he couldn’t make up for it at the plate. The two-time All-Star’s average has been in a steady decline, going from a high of .307 in 2011 to a career-low .245 this year.

Rizzo batted just .233 with 23 homers and 80 RBIs in 160 games, not what the Cubs were looking for after a promising season the year before. In 2012, he hit 285 while knocking out 15 homers and driving in 48 runs in 87 games.