Is it ever to early to think about possible Chicago Cubs trades of the future? It’s one of the things that fans just love to discuss. It makes us feel like we have a part in the organization. Most of us are positive that we would make a great GM. In reality, most of our trades would never happen for various reasons but it’s still fun to dream.
With the recent injury to Kyle Schwarber, it got us to thinking. When the Cubs drafted Kyle in 2014, he wasn’t the analysts choice to go #4 that year. Most prognosticators had the Cubs taking Michael Conforto who eventually dropped to #10 and was picked up by the Mets. Comparisons between the two will take place for years. It’s what baseball junkies do.
It’s baseball’s version of the Monday morning quarterback. It gives baseball nerds something to discuss around the water cooler. So why bring this up now? We invite you to take a peek at how both Kyle Schwarber and Michael Conforto have performed to date. It’s kinda eye opening to see the similarities between the two players.
If a trade were to be made most argue that is should be for a young impact starting pitcher. Theo has surprised us many times in the past. The acquisition of Addison Russell is a prime example of this. At the time the deal was made, just about everyone and their Uncle just KNEW the Cubs were going to use Jeff Samardzija to get another pitcher. In just about every draft everyone also KNEW that the Cubs should draft a pitcher with their #1 pick.
We have been proven wrong at each turn. Theo and Jed have always gone for the big bat over the arm. It’s a philosophy with them. Positional players are simply a low risk move versus taking a pitcher. We see too many pitchers go down with injuries each year. It just Theo and Jed playing the odds. They have always gone with the low risk choice.
Then today we see this article about the unthinkable idea that the Angels should trade Mike Trout. Does this idea hold water? Would the Angels entertain the idea of moving who is arguably the best player in baseball? The fan backlash from such a move would be huge. But one thing Cub fans should remember. If you are going to make a shift in the organizations future, you need to make the difficult choices in spite of what fans think.
The Angels are headed to be a team with a yearly finish slightly above .500 but seemingly miss the playoffs. So what’s the point? Your team finishes in the middle of the pack each year and this is some kind of accomplishment? If you hold your nose, swallow a big gulp of medicine, you may just shake things up enough to get your team to the dance each year.
If a trade for the best player in baseball, there are certain factors that need to be in place. First of all, the Angels will know by late June or early July that the current squad is not going to make the playoffs. Do the Angels have a few top prospects that are going to make an impact very soon? Lastly, could the Angels buy a few pieces in free agency next Winter that would get them to the World Series while still having the services of Mike Trout?
On the first point, it might be too early to predict, but it doesn’t look good right now. The Angels are 13-16 are are a hot mess. A quick look at the depth chart shows just 3 pitchers in the starting rotation. The offense only has 6 “qualified” players listed with 3 of those players with an average under .240 and practically giving you little to no production. So yes, the Angels need an injection of talent.
Looking at the Angels farm system, we see zero (0) prospects in the the top 100! Their top prospect within the system is as C Taylor Ward, who is also listed with an ETA of 2018 to make it to the show. A lot can happen between now and 2018 so Ward may not make it and even if he does, he is probably going to make nothing more than a fine back up. He’s not exactly the impact you are looking for before Trout could become a free agent after the 2020 season.
The last point should be easy to answer. With so many holes to still fill, it’s unreasonable to think that the Angels could print a few Benjamin’s in the shed out back to buy what cures their needs. There may not be enough in the National Treasury to buy them a World Series over the next few years. So we move on.
You can rest assured that if the Angels get the word out that they will listen to offers on Trout, you can bet there will be plenty of teams checking in. So this means the price will be astronomical. Could the Cubs pull off such a trade and would they want to? Just the idea of adding Trout to the Cubs current lineup should send fans into a tizzy. But would those same fans still be willing to pay the price?
We think the Angels would start by looking for someone that could replace the Trout’s bat next season. This is just a starting point. Kyle Schwarber would have to start the talks off. But just because of the injury, the Angels would still ask for a little insurance. I’m sure they would ask for Javier Baez and I’m sure the Cubs would flat out refuse. So a guy like Soler may be more palatable for both teams.
But Soler has many question marks surrounded around him as well. Will he ever fill the potential so many saw in him when he signed out of Cuba? This is still an unknown so the deal would still involve more. If you are giving up a known #1 player in all of baseball, you need more guarantees. The Cubs would need to offer up their #1 prospect, Gleyber Torres.
OMG, that’s going to hurt. We all just KNOW that Torres is going to be an impact player. But the reality is, he is struggling right now down at Myrtle Beach for the first time against tougher competition and his ETA to reach the majors is around 2018. He’s not exactly going to impact your team any time soon, so you can bet the Angels would still be looking for more.
We feel the Cubs would have to offer a guy like Albert Almora. He should be ready to start his major league career next season. His defense is unquestioned and could easily fill the defensive CF void left behind when losing Trout. If Almora’s bat continues to produce like he has since the 2nd half of 2015 and into the first month of this year, it would really help the Angels.
That gives us Schwarber, Soler, Torres and Almora for Trout. This should have many Cub fans scream about how much of an overpay this would be. Well, here’s more to chew. There are other teams out there that could pay even more! The Dodgers are stacked with prospects and could start the talks with Puig and Urias along with 2 or 3 other solid prospects. For the Cubs to land Trout, they would need to dig even deeper.
So a guy like Contreras would be asked to complete the deal. We think this would be a deal breaker for the Cubs. Contreras is slated to be the Cubs catcher of the future starting next year. The Cubs might counter with Ian Happ. The emergence of Chesny Young makes this possible.
So there you have it. Schwarber, Soler, Torres, Almora and Happ for Trout. Now before you just totally dismiss this as crazy talk, take a look at what the lineup would look like going forward. In 2017, we would see Bryant LF, Trout CF and Heyward in RF. This outfield would have to be ranked #1 overall. The infield would have Baez 3B, Russell 2B, Zobrist 2B and Rizzo at 1B. Again this is super solid with gold glove potential at 3 spots.
Your bench would still have a guy like Tommy Ls Stella to fill infield spots. The Cubs still are loaded with OF prospects but many might not be ready until 2018 so the Cubs would continue to use guys like Matt Szczur or Ryan Kalish as backups. We may even see an extension for Dexter Fowler who would then be a guy to fill all 3 OF spots.
There is no doubt that the offense would continue to slap around other teams. The question still remains about what the Cubs would do about the pitching situation. Arrieta is going to get paid and it’s unsure if the Cubs would offer a $200M+ contract for a 32 year old pitcher. Lackey will be gone that same year and will probably retire. Lester would be more of a #3 or #4 type of pitcher by 2018.
So this is where the farm system would really needs to start producing some impact arms. Currently the Cubs only have one or maybe two possible top of the rotation type arms. First on the list would be Duane Underwood. The second may be Dylan Cease who we recently highlighted here. Both pitchers have struggled with injuries and have an ETA of 2018 to make their debuts in Wrigley. Both can be considered a high risk to fill the shoes as a #1 type of starter.
The Cubs also have several interesting pitchers that were taken in the 2014 and 2015 draft respectively. But all of these pitchers also have a lot of risks associated with them. This is probably why Theo and Jed seem to always choose the bats over the arms. The bottom line is this:
Do you use these big name players for another bat or do you finally go after that young impact arm the system really seems to need? What gives the organization the best chance at long term success? Is Trout a guy that gives you the best chance at a ring each year through 2020 or is it a pitcher that is most needed?
Let the debate start!