Well here we are. Two months into the 2016 season and the Cubs are still the unquestioned best team in baseball (sorry Gerrit Cole). As the calendar turns to June, we are starting to see teams that may or may not be active this year at the trade deadline. The deadline has been moved to August 1st this year, so it may play a role in team decisions.
Many Cub fans may still want to see the Cubs make a trade to improve the team. It could also be argued that no moves would be needed. If you are the best team in baseball, then there shouldn’t be an overwhelming need to fill a void. But with that said, if the Cubs were to make a move, it might be for a corner outfielder or more pitching.
Earlier this year, we also talked a lot about the Cubs making a blockbuster move to acquire that young impact arm that many fans still think we need for the long term health of the Cubs. These types of trades are more rare and usually only take place in the offseason. It still may happen, but as we approach the playoffs, it would be unlikely the Cubs make a move that might disrupt the clubhouse.
This could always change with an injury to a starting pitcher. Even then, the Cubs have pitchers in Warren, Cahill or Wood that could fill in for the rest of the year. Let’s face it folks, if this offense really kicks into high gear, the Cubs could average 8 or 9 runs a game. With that much offense, the pitching just needs to keep the game close.
So what kind of deals could we see? We’ve broken it down to 3 types of moves.
#1 No Deal at All
This is probably what will most likely happen. Just look at the numbers folks! The Cubs lead in so many categories that it would seem silly to trade away any of these young guys at the major league level or the minors. Any guy added in a trade would more than likely be a role type of guy. If this is true, the Cubs have plenty of those guys ready to step in from the farm.
The Cubs have Albert Almora and he is having a great year at Iowa. His walk rate may still draw some concerns but a line of .318/.335/.458 would probably ease those concerns. Almora may never be the impact type of player that a Kris Bryant is, but how many players are? On the other hand, Almora’s defense would be a nice addition to this team for the playoffs. He would also bat in the 7th or 8th spot so any pressure on the kid should be lifted.
Then there is Wilson Contreras. The bat can play now. But we’d really like to see him come up for his cup of coffee this September and just work with Ross and Montero. His ticket is already punched to make this team out of Spring training next year. There is no rush here because the Cubs need him to get in as much work defensively as he can before his final promotion takes place.
The Cubs also have some pitching at Iowa that could step in. Guys like Spencer Patton, Felix Pena and Carl Edwards Jr. are working hard and have more than respectable results. Down at Tennessee we see that Paul Blackburn and Brad Markey are starting to raise a few eyebrows. It may be unlikely that a pitcher from the Double A level would be rushed to Wrigley, but stranger things have happened.
#2 A Minor Deal for a Key Piece
We could see the Cubs deal away a minor leaguer for a corner outfielder or a pitcher. We wouldn’t think either side of this trade would be giving up any big names. Theo is also the master at getting a guy that really needs a change of scenery. Trevor Cahill and Clayton Richard are perfect examples of guys added midseason that played big roles for the club down the stretch.
The list may be too long to name a guy the Cubs would target. We would look to teams that were playing under .500 and may have a guy that was ready to hit free agency. The future free agent might also be a guy that their current team wouldn’t want to offer the $16M Qualifying Offer.
Colby Rasmus is a guy that has always had all the tools. He shows flashes of being a breakout guy but has never been the impact guy many thought he would be. He is turning 30 in August and Houston is having a disappointing year. We don’t think the Astros would want to give him a QO and thus, would make him a guy some playoff team might want to take a chance on.
Austin Jackson. Remember him? He signed with the White Sox for only one year. The White Sox are in a bit of a slump right now. If the team continues to slide, they may want to move him for a decent prospect instead of giving him a QO.
Jon Jay is an intriguing piece. He’s currently with the Padres who we feel will miss the playoffs again. If he’s dealt all by himself the Padres may not get much of a return. But if their front office decides to go crazy again, we could see him packaged with a pitcher the Cubs like for a better return.
Cameron Maybin just returned to the Tigers and is hitting the ball with authority. He is a bit of a long shot as a trade candidate because the Tigers could be fighting for a playoff spot and they also hold a team option for the 2017 season.
Jay Bruce is the most likely guy to be traded at the deadline. Cincy is going nowhere this year and since he still has a team option on his contract for the 2017 season (about $13M), he could be a nice addition. It would depend on the asking price. If the price is too high, the Cubs may just pass and use an internal option.
Josh Roddick is another guy that has been linked to the Cubs. He is putting together a nice season to date but will test the market this Winter. It’s not like Billy Beane to just let a player go without trying to get something in return. How high will the bidding go?
Andrew Cashner is up for free agency next year. He’s been somewhat of a disappointment and can’t seem to shake the injury bug. Could Bosio work his magic here and the Cubs not be willing to move a top prospect and also sign Cashner to an extension? Theo would have to see something the others don’t. Cashner will turn 30 in September.
Rich Hill has got to make you feel good. He’s now 36 years old but is throwing up some unbelievable numbers. Cub fans know the story very well. He might be a nice addition down the stretch. It might also be the next big movie in Hollywood if he could get a World Series ring with the Cubs!
#3 Make the Blockbuster Deal
This is highly unlikely to be done at the trade deadline. If we were to see such a huge deal it would need to have two things line up. The first thing is that the Cubs would need to come to a decision on which guys were not necessarily a long term fit for the organization. This is where a bit of fortune-telling powers need to be shown. Most of the guys on this type of list are just too young to know how they would or would not fit.
The next piece that would need to be lined up is a team that is obviously out of the playoff hunt. Then they need to decide that moving one of their top players is the quickest way they could change their outlook for the near future. This list comes down to just a few teams.
In the AL:
Tampa Bay, Minnesota, Oakland and the LA Angels
In the NL:
Atlanta, Milwaukee, Cincinnati, San Diego and possibly Arizona
Of the teams on this list we think we could quickly remove Arizona and the LA Angels. Arizona made some big deals this past winter to acquire pitching. They would not be willing to assume these moves were all wrong and expect them to be much better in the second half.
The much rumored deal of Mike Trout is just that. A RUMOR. We just don’t see any team willing to pay the outrageous price it would take to get that deal done. So we remove them.
Of the 7 teams remaining we only see 3 teams that might have pieces the Cubs would covet. Those teams are Tampa Bay, Oakland and Atlanta. Of those three teams, Tampa Bay has the most pitching. We all know that the Cubs have long yearned for a young pitching stud.
So if a deal is to be made, we would assume it would be with Tampa Bay. We also know that the Cubs would need to probably overpay for the trade. Pitching is just way more expensive than positional players. We saw that this fact last Winter. It just the way the current market values the players.
This is also why we don’t expect to see this type of deal done at the trade deadline. It something that might be discussed and agreed that the same talks should be put on hold until after the 2016 season concludes.