I have this dream scenario laid out for the Cubs. The key word being "dream".
The Cubs have one of the top 5 farm systems in baseball and it will likely continue to be that way heading into next year. It's possible that none of their top 10 prospects will achieve rookie status this year. Only Arismendy Alcantara has a realistic shot at that.
But not only will the Cubs retain their current prospects heading into 2015, they will add to it through the draft and deadline deals. There are many ways these deals could go down, but this is how I would not just add to the Cubs prospect cache, but actually fill in it's weakest spots at the same time.
Step 1: Trade Jeff Samardzija in a package to the Colorado Rockies for Eddie Butler, David Dahl, and the 35th pick in the draft.
Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports says the Cubs have indeed been looking to acquire a competitive balance pick and the pool money that goes with it. There aren't a lot of realistic options for the Cubs, but the Rockies are the most realistic.
Given we have heard there is interest between the two teams on a Samardzija deal and that one source told us they'd be willing to deal Butler and Dahl, maybe the Cubs can sweeten the pot and obtain the 35th pick as well.
I know that there are some, including the highly respected writer Jason Parks as well as a scouting source of mine, who believe Samardzija isn't worth that sort of package, but I do know a front office exec who believes he's worth a top 25 prospect and more. So opinion varies.
You can bet that Theo Epstein and the Cubs front office will push for a big return and that it only takes one team to make that happen. Even that scout I spoke of put it this way, "Somebody will pay big for Samardzija, but it would not be me."
Is this kind of trade unlikely? Probably. Out of the question? I wouldn't go quite that far.
Step 2: Draft C Max Pentecost and sign him to an under slot deal.
Okay, if this is a dream then Brady Aiken falls to the Cubs, but I am trying to balance some more realistic options with some less realistic options.
Step 3: Take that saved money and then draft prep RHP Jake Bukauskus with the 35th pick and RHP Jack Flaherty with their 45th pick.
These are just 2 suggestions that I have heard linked to the Cubs but there are obviously a lot of prep arms who could be there for one of those picks: Sean Reid-Foley, Michael Kopech, Dylan Cease (if healthy) to name a few, though it is unlikely in the case of Foley and Kopech.
But for sake of simplicity, let's go with the two names we mentioned first.
The Cubs add one of the top pitching prospects in the game in Eddie Butler, who should be ready to replace Samardzija by sometime in 2015 plus one of the best power arms in the draft in Jake Bukauskus as well as one of it's more projectable arms in Jack Flaherty.
The Cubs have some interesting catching prospects such as Rafael Lopez, Willson Contreras, Will Remillard, and Mark Malave -- but all lack the polish and/or skills to be an everyday catcher right now. That could change, but realistically, that's how it stands right now. Max Pentecost would immediately become their best catching prospect and the closest starting level prospect at that position to the major leagues. He should be ready by the time Castillo becomes a free agent.
The Lefty Bat
David Dahl is an intriguing LH bat with the capability of playing very good defense in the corners. He would become the best LH hitting OF prospect in their system.
The haul would close the gaps in the Cubs system and make it the best in baseball, with many of the top 10 prospects ready or near-ready to contribute by 2015: Javier Baez, Kris Bryant, Arismendy Alcantara, Eddie Butler, and possibly Jorge Soler, CJ Edwards, and Pierce Johnson. Bukauskus and Flaherty would add high ceiling pitching talent to the lower levels and Dahl gives them a lefty bat who could be ready to come up with Albert Almora in the next couple of years.
Easy as 1-2-3, right?
Maybe not, but I can dream, can't I?