Thoughts on the Cubs and the Trade Deadline

Thoughts on the Cubs and the Trade Deadline

I really wish the Cubs didn't have to do this again.  Trades are fun but there is a point where you want to start moving forward.  I think the Cubs feel the same way but the 13-27 start to the season has left them with little choice.

That said, I don't think we should see a repeat of two seasons ago when the Cubs acquired talent that has yet to show up in the big leagues, though we will likely see Kyle Hendricks at some point this season.  We should also see Arodys Vizcaino and possibly Christian Villanueva when rosters expand.

So what should we expect?

If they can't move forward, then they can at least avoid taking another huge step back.

Think Scott Feldman deal.

The Cubs traded a rental in Scott Feldman for a pitcher who began to help them last year.  And this season, Jake Arrieta become a mainstay in the rotation this year and probably for years to come.  They also got some solid immediate bullpen help in Pedro Strop.

This year I expect the Cubs to try and extract MLB ready talent in deals for both Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel.  With Arrieta, Travis Wood, Starlin Castro, Anthony Rizzo and the young bullpen establish themselves as long term talent to build on.

Teams which fit this mold as possible trade partners are the Royals and the Mariners.  As Mike mentioned the other day, LHP Danny Duffy could be a target though it would be tough to pry him lose when he is already contributing to the Royals run.

The Mariners may provide a more interesting partner in this respect because they have two quality young arms in Taijuan Walker and LHP James Paxton who cannot help the Mariners this year.  Both would have been untouchable had they been healthy but injuries have make it possible for the Cubs to call and inquire on without getting an immediate hang-up.  What makes it even more plausible is that Jack Zdurenciek is in Jim Hendry mode.  He's on the hot seat and he needs to make a strong showing or he may not be there to reap the rewards of Walker and Paxton anyway.

Another player I'd be interested in acquiring is draft "bust" Dustin Ackley, who has had all kinds of struggles with the Mariners and has gotten progressively worse each season.  Like Arrieta and Pedro Strop with the Orioles last year, the Mariners can't really count on him this year while the Cubs could provide a talented player with a fresh start, a different set of eyes to evaluate and coach him, and a new opportunity.

Think Matt Garza deal...and then some.  The go big or go home scenario.

This isn't as immediate a reward as the Feldman deal but the Cubs have reaped quick contributions from Neil Ramirez and Justin Grimm while getting a good long look at Mike Olt, who has struggled.  The Cubs also got a future piece in CJ Edwards, who could end up in the middle of the rotation.  The Cubs should get more simply because Samardzija is younger, better, has an extra year of control, and the team acquiring him will almost certainly get compensated with a first round pick.

The best candidate for this kind of deal is the Blue Jays and despite Jon Heyman's article yesterday, don't believe that talk between the two teams are dead.  There is a lot of posturing going on this time of year and the Jays likely balked at the idea of giving up both Aaron Sanchez and Daniel Norris.  The Jays have tried to frame Matt Garza as a 4th starter in the past and may be trying to downplay Samardzija's value here.  In effect, they could be daring the Cubs to try to get something close to that kind of value elsewhere before considering trading two of their best pitching prospects.  They also don't want to escalate the bidding war.  After the Sanchez/Norris rumor, the Jays did exactly what they should have done -- and that is leak to the media that they will not make such a deal.  Anything less implies that the Jays are willing to consider that deal and potentially ups the price for Samardzija as other teams scramble to match or beat that offer.

Yet, the Cubs don't have much to lose by waiting even in the unlikely event that no other team antes up because the Matt Garza deal last year showed the Cubs can wait until the last year of a deal and still get the kind of quality the Jays are likely offering right now.  The Jays will likely not gain much by trying to call the Cubs bluff so don't expect the Cubs to deal with them unless Theo Epstein and company get what they are asking for -- or at least something very close to it.

As far as other options go, even if the Royals choose not to deal Duffy, there are still options with a still very strong Royals system.  We know the Cubs have liked Zimmer since they scouted him heavily before the 2012 draft and with an injury that doesn't directly affect his arm, the Cubs would like to get a potential TOR arm like that in their system with an acceptable amount of risk.  The Royals have quickly rebuilt a solid crop of prospects, so I expect the Cubs to net a pretty nice package of prospects if they deal with the Royals.

The same goes for the Mariners, who have some some pitching prospect depth behind the injured arms we mentioned.

In the end, I expect the Cubs to get good MLB ready talent back for Samardzija and Hammel, but if they don't MLB ready talent, the Cubs will get high ceiling talent with acceptable risk.  I do not expect them to have to settle for high risk, low level prospects -- that would be a big step backward.

And the Cubs will not take a big step backward this July.


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  • I think a 'step back' is still in the cards come July once some of the currently critical pieces like Shark and Hammel are moved.

    But - that step back is not going to be as noticable - since we now have a competent and deep bullpen, a good defense, and since it is the offense that is the biggest weakness now but won't be altered much (at least negatively) - that won't change.

    I am interested in seeing how Beeler, Hendricks, and perhaps Wada do when they are thrust into the rotation post trading deadline. They will have to be better than the likes of Berkin, Raley, Volstad,....

    I'm still thinking this is a team that manages to avoid 100 losses, but I am less optimistic than I was at the start of the season that they will manage to win 70+.

  • In reply to drkazmd65:

    at this point I don't want the Cubs to win 70 , I want complete tank mode so Theo has the choice and slot cash at #1 , nice to have a pick between Daz Cameron and Matuella type players instead of seeing who drops to us for winning meaningless games like we did against the Sox last year.

  • In reply to Bryan Craven:

    There are a lot of interesting prospects for next year's draft. It's going to be a really deep draft. To give you an idea there are 5 HS pitchers in Indiana that are 92MPH + and 2 are throwing 95. It's going to be an awesome draft class.

  • In reply to KGallo:

    I agree from my looking into next years class its loaded with HS bats and really good college and HS pitching, think Duke and Virginia will represent in the top 5 for a team looking pitching , love Daz Cameron and Brendan Rodgers for HS bats.

  • In reply to Bryan Craven:

    The are a couple other HS bats like Chris Betts C and Kyle Dean OF. And a few others I can think of off the top of my head.

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    In reply to KGallo:

    History suggests college bats are the direction they'll go unless another player strikes them as special, i.e., Aiken.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    They picked Almora.

  • In reply to KGallo:

    I hope, then, that the Cubs don't make any trades until after the competitive balance draft pick lottery in mid to late July. It would be good to get another pick in that draft.

  • In reply to Bryan Craven:

    wasn't schwarber seen as a mid first round guy? so, theoretically, the cubs could've drafted the guy that they wanted at #15? top draft picks are nice and all of that, but the cubs need to be finding future starts later in the draft, too.

  • In reply to RizzowiththeStick:

    but the higher picks also come higher slot allocations , so if Cubs had 2nd , 3rd pick instead of 4 and still took Schwaber they theoretically would have had another million or more to sign overslot guys like Cease/ Gilliam . that's why there is no glory going from 65 to 75 wins .

  • In reply to RizzowiththeStick:

    The Cubs did draft Schwarber later than the 4th pick. Since you can't trade picks bonus money dictates value. Remember though the Cubs were high on him, so they didn't make this move for later picks, they got their guy and saved money to draft high upside guys.

    In that way it is like the Cubs traded down to get other good players, but instead of picks it is money that allows to manipulate a draft board.

  • In reply to drkazmd65:

    I think any time you trade a guy like Samardzija, it is a step back, but the key is not to make it a big step back, which is what I am talking about. Get a guy in who can contribute and maybe make up for a win or so and then use the money you would have spent on Samardzjia to pick up another win or two.

    I'm talking about not getting guys who won't help for 3 years.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    It will be a short term set back. I will miss him.

  • Would Hammel for just Norris and Pompey be realistic?

  • In reply to David Davidon:

    No. Norris straight up is unrealistic.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Hammel by the numbers:

    2.99 ERA - 3.07 FIP - 15 Starts / 96 IP - 1.017 WHIP - 0.7 HR/9
    1.9 BB/9 - 8.5 SO/9 = 4.55 SO/BB Ratio

    I said to Mike in another post that I think we have taken for granted just how good Hammel has been this year and he is showing no signs of slowing down and none of his numbers predict regression. If anything he might be settling in. His last 5 starts: 32 IP - 2.81 ERA - 36 K - 5 BB...which are starts he was probably being scouted at. He could seriously help a team down the stretch and in the postseason. He is better than Garza was when the Cubs traded him in my opinion. Norris would be a tough get straight up for Hammel but I think it's possible. He has #2 upside but he just got to AA, and the Jays have Stroman just getting to the majors and Sanchez in AAA. Considering what the Cubs got for Garza, I don't think Norris by himself is such a huge stretch....although I think it would be a great deal for both teams.

  • fwiw walker pitched a complete game the other night for AAA tacoma, and could be on the verge of a call up. paxton or hultzen seem more likely IMO. duffy is intriguing in a hammel deal, not so much for samardzjia unless he's a secondary piece.

  • In reply to matt:

    A call-up and being able to contribute any meaningful innings are two different things.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Of course. Just pointing out that he's pitching well at AAA and could very well contribute this year. It's not outside the realm of possibility for him to come up and take off for Seattle. I think he'll get an opportunity to do that before they think about trading him.

  • In reply to matt:

    I am referring more to the expected workload down the stretch after coming off an injury.

  • They better have some plan for TOR starting pitching. If they trade JH and JS, they basically have a #3, #4, and #5 starter with JA, TW, and EJ. The coming help with Beeler and Hendricks doesn't project to be any better than 3s either. Maybe JA has made the jump where he can be at least a 2, but that remains to be seen. I know they would have to overpay to keep JS, but I'm not sure I see what choice we have. We'll have to spend even more to get Max or someone of that caliber.

  • In reply to cubsker:

    Getting a TOR isn't easy, you basically have to develop them these days. Cubs will have to get by with maybe three #3 types for the next couple of years.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I look forward to the day that the Cubs will have to 'get by' with "maybe three #3 types" to fill out their 3-5 spots in the rotation.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I am sorry John that is unacceptable to me. I am fully behind the rebuild but when we are ready to win we can't be sitting around trying to figure out where to get a couple top of the rotation guys. If there isn't a solid plan to have them when our window opens we should be resigning shark and not trading him. We are being patient here but if the plan is to win the first WS in forever with no plan for TOR pitching than it is not much of a plan, but just the same hope we have been running on forever.

  • In reply to bleedblue:

    We will have some options to pick up TOR talent, but don't expect for the FO office to get an Archie Bradley type pitcher and be able to insert him in our rotation next year. I think that is what John is trying to say. Between FA, Japanese pitchers, and these upcoming trades, we will have options (good options), but don't expect us to slot one of these guys at the TOR in 2015.

  • In reply to Zilla:

    dempster maholm garza feldman cashner marshall have netted us rizzo, vizcaino,strop,arrieta,hendricks,villanueva,edwards,grimm, olt, ramirez & wood pretty much the young core of this team.

    its also helped us secure almora, bryant & schwarber.

    so the moves the FO has done have been outstanding. Ejax & Stewart aside.

  • In reply to bleachercreature:

    I like the rule 5 pick up Rondon too.

  • In reply to bleachercreature:

    I am all for building the core pieces. But when half the players you mention are 7th, 8th and 9th inning guys, that isn't what I want my core to be. Unless they see some of those guys moving to the rotation

  • In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    As a result of the Cubs having a good, young, cost controlled bullpen full of power pitchers the next 6+ years, they will save ton of money which can be used to sign a TOR pitcher and/or a final piece in the lineup depending on which prospects claim a starting spot.

  • In reply to cubsker:

    JS hasn't shown himself as more than a #3 over an entire season in his career. I am concerned that the fall is coming (or already started) and just hope we can trade him before he becomes 2nd half 2013 JS. Comparing him to Max seems a bit premature and overspending to keep JS seems a potential recipe for disaster.

    Hammel can't, IMO, be counted on to be more than a #3 himself. He has no performance history similar to this year, so he is also a risk.

    I agree they better have a plan for TOR starting pitching, but JS and Hammel shouldn't be part of that plan (except for trying to acquire a TOR in return for them).

  • i don't see a chance in hell we get duffy for hammel.

  • John you were 100% right on Hammel. I didn't believe in him going into this season and you did.

    Good call man.

  • In reply to Jimmie Ward:

    Thanks. Like the tall guys with some velo. If you can teach them to pound the zone, you've got something -- sometimes it works, like Feldman and Hammel, sometimes it doesn't -- like Volstad.

  • I still have a hard time rationalizing overpaying for a scratch-and-dent sale. No injured arms, just talent straight up. Other teams may be trying to detect the scent of desperation, but the FO doesn't have to do a damn thing.

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    And I keep thinking about that Tanaka money just sitting in the bank. This really has to be the last year we just "wait" for things to progress. I'm not so concerned about if we make a huge haul in the Shark trade like we did with the Garza or Feldman trade. These next trades need to be top quality type of guys. Even if the Cubs are perceived to lose a single deal, if we get our guy we are still winners.

    There is a time to take quantity and that time was 2 years ago. I guess I speak of the talked about Toronto trade. Is it all that bad if we get Sanchez and Norris and not a 3rd player and the Cubs have to sweeten the deal by adding a guy like Sczur and or Brett Jackson to Shark to get this deal done? Or what if we have Shark, Russell and Sczur to get Sanchez and Norris?

    My point is, it just doesn't really matter if we look like we lost a particular deal. We got our guys that are solutions for a long term run at the playoffs. No need to worry as much about "winning" each trade....

  • In reply to bocabobby:

    Sczur and B-Jax add no value to a trade. In fact, there's a better argument for them adding negative value as long as they occupy a 40 man spot...

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    In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Everyone underestimates the importance of the 40-man slots. They have value. The ONLY reason B-Jax is even still on the 40-man is because the Cubs have not really needed that slot yet. If any team wants B-Jax, they need only wait a few more months and claim him for free.....

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    In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    I just used those names as an example. I'm fine with using most of our guys in the system as a "throw in" to get the right deal done.

    But as long as you bring up the point about negative value and the 40 man roster, I have to ask myself if there are more deserving guys that should be on that 40 man roster. I believe the answer is yes.

    This winter is going to be exciting. Not only do I see the Cubs adding talent in free agency but cleaning up those precious roster spots. Some of these guys just don't have what it takes to be a Chicago Cub. We have NEVER been able to say that before!

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    BTW the one guy currently on the roster who can be an ace is Jake Arrieta. If he continues this run he's on and this becomes the norm he's better than Samardzija. Have to assume in any deal you're likely going to get 1 maybe 2 TOR arms

  • In reply to Teddy Robinson:

    Jake has done pretty well since we acquired him last year.

    2013: 4-2 ERA 3.66
    2014: 4-1 ERA 2.05

    Hope he continues how he has pitched in Chicago.

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    I can't wait to see how Beeler pitches this Saturday vs the Nationals. It will be interesting to see if he can contribute

  • In reply to William Ray:

    Agreed!!! Most interested in that myself.

  • In reply to William Ray:

    Agreed - have been wanting to see what Beeler could do since seeing some of the work he did last Winter.

  • I just read on fangraphs earlier today that the Cubs currently have the best starting rotation and are fourth overall in pitching???
    Imagine our rotation nest year if we keep shark and sign an FA pitcher.

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    In reply to ultimatecubsfan101:

    But we won't.

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    In reply to ultimatecubsfan101:


  • I would think that trading away both Shark and Hammel means the Cubs HAVE TO sign a FA pitcher? Jon Lester with his Theo ties a realistic target?

  • Not sure that I agree that Paxton cannot contribute to the M's this year. That's a pretty absolute statement. Granted he has been injured after he got off to a nice start but unless something's changed in the past couple of days they expect him back. There is quite a difference between not being able to rely on contributions versus saying they won't get any.

  • i think that hammel to seattle would be a great fit. if the cubs could get hultzen and diaz for him id be ecstatic.

  • In reply to jshmoran:

    No on Hultzen, he tore his labrum capsule and the dreaded rotator cuff tear. He has a long road back and most likely will never be the same again as far as velocity goes. Shoulder injuries, especially torn rotator cuffs are not like TJ surgery on your elbow, they can be career ending, and often the pitcher is never the same unfortunately.

  • Taking a step back is inevitable if we trade both Hammel and Samardzija since it would be a pretty good feat just to get pitchers just as good to replace them in the coming off season, and then have to start addressing the already long list of weaknesses that this team has. i.e. 2B, 3B, C, OF. We have minor league talent that might be ready to fill some of the gaps, but certainly not all of them. IMHO

  • Ironically it's starting to look as though we may have gotten more back in the Feldman trade than the Garza trade. If Arrieta can really be a 2/3 pitcher, that's more value at the moment than the pieces we received for Garza. Not sure if that means we might actually get a better return in a Hammel trade than what Shark brings back.

  • In reply to October:

    Yep, trades are not made in a vacuum, while "perceived" player value (talent, control, cost, production, projection, etc) are suppose to be the driving factor in trades, timing, leverage, demand, and market conditions can be just as impactful when it comes to the return on a trade. Not to mention luck, especially with prospects.

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    In reply to October:

    If Arrieta can maintain his consistency, his FLOOR may be a #3. His consistency is the big question, though.

  • In reply to October:

    but both grimm and ramirez are capable of being stretched out and are possible rotation candidates next year.

  • THIS.

    "the Matt Garza deal last year showed the Cubs can wait until the last year of a deal and still get the kind of quality the Jays are likely offering right now. The Jays will likely not gain much by trying to call the Cubs bluff so don't expect the Cubs to deal with them unless Theo Epstein and company get what they are asking for -- or at least something very close to it."

  • Cubs are in a good position and I doubt we will be complaining about a bad return.

    You have another year on Shark, if nothing else, and do you get a draft pick for Hammel?

    If so, or even if not, if you don't get what you want, then you can offer that extension. Shark could be very interested in staying if we make some good trades this July and sign a couple of key guys this offseason.

    The FO is not going to give either guy away, thus it presents a pretty good situation that I'm not all too worried about.

    (The potential for a larger deal is what really gets me excited, with our stacked farm system and the lack of hitters league wide. We could end up looking more like buyers than sellers if the chips fall right.)

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    In reply to givejonadollar:

    I could be wrong but I believe you only get a pick for Hammel if you offer him the qualifying offer of $14 million and he refuses it to sign with another team....

  • Arrieta has been great, but his body of work is slim. Far too early to call him a member of the core moving forward. Trading Shark is a big step back imo.

  • In reply to ccia:


    It's like the opposite of the Starlin saga last year. Just because he had a bad year didn't mean he dropped from being a core player. His body of work gave him leeway.

    Just because Arrieta is having a good year doesn't mean he is a core player. His body of work suggests otherwise. My personal definition would have a core player as someone who puts up at least consecutive seasons at a producing rate, or a prospect who is producing, half of a season is just too small of a sample size. Valbuena and core player has been mentioned recently. Pump the brakes.

    It's a fluid situation and I believe he can develop into one but his history suggests he won't. There's loads of players who get on hot streaks for a little while then flail away.

    Let's not forget Darwin Barney was considered a core player by some a couple years ago...

  • In reply to Chrissy T:

    I think you evaluate players by what improvements they make to their game. Arrieta has always had top notch stuff but his lack of control both hurt his results and caused him to run into high pitch counts early in a game.

    We are not seeing some abnormal statist all anomaly, we are seeing a pitcher with great stuff pounding the zone with great stuff.

    He is now closing in on half a season with these results, I do think it is prudent to see a bit more, but two seasons of these results are not necessary to say that the guy is making a very meaningful change in his approach.

  • In reply to Chrissy T:

    This is the same reason I reject people calling Shark a TOR pitcher. His overall body of work suggests that he is not and your analysis would back that claim.

  • Not that I think it would be necessary, but this occurred to me.

    Would it be possible to increase Hammel's worth by renegotiating his contract so that he is signed for next year for six million and gets a big bonus this year to make it worth his while?

    Or would that not be worth it? Or would it violate some obscure rule?

  • anyone else watching Iowa Cubs on Why does the CF view look like I'm watching a game from 1962? Is it throwback night?

  • In reply to MashBrotherMania:

    Are you sure Iowa isn't still in 1962?

  • anybody else watching the Iowa Cubs game on Feel like I'm watching a game from the 1960s

  • In reply to MashBrotherMania:

    disregard this comment... browser error

  • How do you make the third out at third by 10 feet?

  • In reply to Oneear:

    I figured he had taken a lesson from Castillo.

  • Paxton as an untouchable if he was healthy is a huge stretch. And that's setting aside the fact that every player has a price. Guy had a ton of flaws coming into this year and just because he made a few quality starts this year doesn't mean he was a lock to continue that performance.

  • Soler with a long hr tonite in the AZ league. Just stay healthy!

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    In reply to Buzz:

    He's everything we want if he can stay healthy. Exceptional approach and plus power. Here's hoping they finally have it under control.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    We need his approach throughout the organization. He had 4 abs tonite, 2 walks, a GO and that hr, of which he probably saw around 20 pitches. I like the approach of Schwarber too....low K %

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    A full year, or 300 plate appearances if he's killing it, at AAA next season and the Cubs should have themselves an exciting RFer for years to come. I think he's got one of the highest floors amongst the Cubs prospects along with Bryant and (apparently) Schwarber. I like him a lot. He's just got to stay on the field.

    2016 could see the Cubs with an OF of a left-handed hitting FA or 26-year-old Lake (LF), 24-year-old Alcantara (CF) and 24-year-old Soler (RF). Couple that with an infield of 24-year-old Bryant, 26-year-old Castro, 23-year-old Baez and 26-year-old Rizzo.

    The only rookie in that group would be Soler. Usually, these completely home grown, top-prospect-filled line-ups are just pipe dreams, but this one actually has a decent possibility of happening. Not greater than 50/50, but far better than pipe dream status.

  • In reply to Quedub:

    2016 lineup
    cf alcantera
    rf bryant
    1b rizzo
    ss castro
    3b baez
    lf schwarber
    c castillo
    2b bruno
    add lake,olt,soler,almora,lopez

  • In reply to Quedub:

    Your lineup does not have Schwarber. I think he will be there too. He looks like he is going to move through the farm system like Bryant.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    This. A million times this Mike. If Soler can just stay healthy, I think you will see him fly through the minors...Let him rake the 2nd half at High A Daytona, then AFL this summer. A couple months off to rest, and if he starts at AA next year, he could very well be knocking on the door to Wrigley by next September. Of course this is all a big IF he stays healthy but it seems both him and the org said enough is enough and he is on a strict stretching and flexibility regimen in his off field work. In the long run it will end up helping him as he will be ultra careful to prevent injuries. I'm a big fan of Soler.

  • Time to dream! Lets do dis:

    Almora, Alcantara, Vogelbach, Villenuva ISP$$, to the Rays for Price

    Hammel, Valbuena ISP $$ to the Jays for Norris and Pompey

    Shark, Russell, Wright Olt ISP $$ to Seattle for Walker and Paxton

    I really think Seattle would bite on Olt for 2 reasons: Cheap and controllable til 2020, they have no money to sign any bats so it might be worth it to them to take a chance on trying to turn a guy around with huge power potential. Not saying Olt is the key piece but he could sweeten the pot to make Seattle bite on giving up those 2.

    Suck up the rest of this season and get the #1 pick and draft Mike Matuella and that would be one hell of a rotation for years to come.


    Yeah that's a nice dream. Damn.

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