Surplus Assets and Future Roster Allocation Heading Into 2019 Trade Deadline

Miguel Amaya (Photo by Stephanie Lynn)

Miguel Amaya (Photo by Stephanie Lynn)

Over the past three years I have had a lot of fun creating an audit of the Cubs system in order to diagnose which prospects, or at least group of prospects, the Cubs would choose to make most available in deadline deals. I have been very happy with the results, even if the timing of some trades by the Cubs led to frustrations on my end, with the 2017 version ending up nothing more than an unpublished mental exercise.

Back with my first attempt at it in 2016, my article proved accurate enough where the four pieces in the Aroldis Chapman trade basically boiled down to one guy from group A, another from group B, and so on. I was also forced to kick myself for not getting it out soon enough, as I needed to alter the contents because the Cubs pulled the trigger on the Mike Montgomery trade the week before the deadline on July 20th, just as I was trying to put the finishing touches on it. But in the original version, Dan Vogelbach did indeed compose a grouping of his own, and Paul Blackburn was a member of yet another.

Eager to avoid getting beat to the punch as I did the year prior, I decided to start writing the 2017 iteration during the All-Star break. I had mapped out the framework for the article, had my Eloy Jimenez's and Dylan Cease's in a row when, of course, the Cubs decided to blow the whole project up and swung the Jose Quintana trade as the All-Star break was concluding. I never bothered to publish an altered version of the article.

I intended to begin writing even earlier in July last season, but life intervened and I didn't get around to starting until around the All-Star break once again. Thankfully, it was published before the Cubs made any major moves, but since the Cubs really didn't end up making any trades involving top prospects, it ended up being the least useful of the three articles. Both Rollie Lacy and Andruw Monasterio were included, so it wasn't a total waste of effort.

This year I decided to use the 4th of July holiday as a kickoff point for the article. Hopefully, the Cubs don't make a trade before I publish it.

This is not meant to be a comprehensive list of players the Cubs will make available in trades. There is no such thing as an untouchable if the right deal comes along. Also, teams do not always have the luxury of dealing from positions of strength. It is useful to examine those areas of surplus though. I also endeavor to identify situations where offseason 40-man roster crunches could prompt the front office to become proactive in deals.

Current Roster

Addison Russell / David Bote / Robel Garcia

We all know the ins-and-outs of the Addison Russell situation by now. If the Cubs do decide to trade him, they would need to find a replacement as a backup shortstop. I have no idea how to assess his trade value right now, or how many teams would even be willing to accept him in a trade.

I am a David Bote backer. I think he is a very good fit as a bench bat for a NL team who is capable of performing like a starter for stretches. His contract extension is a strong indication the front office expects to keep him around, and values him as both a player and clubhouse fit. Those are also reasons why Bote would be someone opposing teams would ask about in a deal. The odds are slim the Cubs would include him in a trade, but the usual caveats of no player being untouchable if the right deal comes along do apply here, so it feels necessary to at least include him in the discussion.

Robel Garcia (photo by Dylan Heuer)

Robel Garcia (photo by Dylan Heuer)

The wildcard is Robel Garcia. Is he a potential fix for the offensive woes the Cubs have experienced at second base? Is he someone the Cubs can actually bet on in a season where the team is scuffling? I'm a believer in Garcia being a Major League player, but it is difficult to say what type of adjustment time(s) he'll need, and whether he is actually ready to be a producer on a would-be contender.

A return by Ben Zobrist would throw yet another hat into the ring for playing time at second, and cause even more of a roster crunch. If the Cubs do decide to go outside the organization for an offensive upgrade at the position, Daniel Descalso seems like he'd be first in line to lose his roster spot, but if Zobrist returns as well, the Cubs would likely need to move one of these others to make space. So it could make sense to include one as part of a deal if that event seems likely come deadline day.

Top Prospects

Adbert Alzolay / Miguel Amaya / Brennen Davis / Nico Hoerner / Brailyn Marquez / Cole Roederer

This is the group of players the Cubs would only tap into in the event of a major trade.

The Craig Kimbrel signing likely represents the only big bullpen addition this season. So, I don't see the Cubs including any of their top prospects in a deal to acquire another reliever unless they decide to proceed with a major shakeup. If they feel Kimbrel is not going to be enough to stabilize the late innings, which could be the case if he doesn't begin gaining arm strength prior to the deadline, the team could pursue an impact lefty to help share the load. I would expect the price of such a move to include one of the names above, plus additional smaller pieces, depending on the contract of the Cubs target.

It is no secret the Cubs are in the market for a bat (or two). The lineup features three All-Stars, and three more veterans who are producing at acceptable rates, but they've struggled to find production in centerfield and at second base. I'm in the camp that they do not require an impact player at either, but to simply find one or two reasonably priced rentals who can help lengthen the lineup and push current starters to the bench. Those type of players won't require a major prospect to acquire. But I wouldn't hesitate to make a bigger deal if a good opportunity presents itself. To do so will likely require a couple of the names above.

Organizational Surpluses

Catcher

40 Man Roster: Taylor Davis

Rule 5 Eligible: Miguel Amaya / Jhonny Pereda (UFA) / P.J. Higgins

The Cubs currently house three solid backstops on the 40-man roster. Willson Contreras has not made the hoped for strides defensively, but his throwing ability and powerful bat have propelled him to two straight All-Star game nods. Victor Caratini has emerged this season as a reliable receiver and offensive producer at the MLB level.  He may not have an impressive pedigree but Taylor Davis has worked his tail off to become a good framer, game caller, and contact hitter as a 3rd catcher with two remaining option seasons.

Jhonny Pereda (photo by Stephanie Lynn)

Jhonny Pereda (photo by Stephanie Lynn)

Things are about to get interesting this offseason, however. Not only does the organization's top prospect at the position (Miguel Amaya) need to be added to the 40-man roster to protect him from the Rule 5 draft, but Jhonny Pereda has made himself into a candidate who bears serious consideration for a roster spot as well. He possesses a strong arm, along with good contact and plate discipline skills on offense, but his receiving and game calling are still a work in progress. He'll be ready to share the load with Davis in Iowa next season, but I would consider the odds of Pereda becoming MLB-ready at any point next season slim.

Will the Cubs be willing to carry 5 catchers on the 40-man roster, especially if two are unlikely to be ready contribute in the Majors? They have carried that number for short stretches over the past few years, but never over the course of an entire season. Something will need to give at this position, and a deal either at the deadline or during the offseason, makes sense.

Middle Infield

40 Man Roster: Ian Happ

Rule 5 Eligible: Trent Giambrone / Zack Short / Dixon Machado (UFA) / Phillip Evans (UFA) / Vimael Machin

Depth: Nico Hoerner / Aramis Ademan / Delvin Zinn / Andy Weber / Luis Vazquez / Chase Strumpf / Reivaj Garcia / Luis Verdugo / Pedro Martinez / Fabian Pertuz / Mack Chambers / Josue Huma / Rafael Morel

Ian Happ is obviously not a full-time 2B, but he does have experience there, and at least contributes to the depth the organization has at the position. I doubt the Cubs want to deal him while his value is at its lowest point ever, but it is a scenario they will have to consider depending on the options available on the trade market.

It was a rough first half for both Trent Giambrone and Zack Short at Iowa. Giambrone has shown plenty of power throughout the year, but struggled to make contact or draw walks most of the season, yet has come on strong over the past month to put himself back into consideration as utility man. His turnaround was too late to stay in front of Robel Garcia in the pecking order however, which could put him in an awkward roster position as both are bat-first guys. Short was hit by a pitch the first week of the season and only just returned to Iowa yesterday. The better defender, Short offers a decent amount of pop himself, but due to the injury has yet to prove himself at the AAA level.

Trent Giambrone (Photo by Stephanie Lynn)

Trent Giambrone (Photo by Stephanie Lynn)

With both Giambrone and Short becoming eligible for the Rule 5 draft, Garcia vaulting over them to grab a 40-man spot, and Nico Hoerner charging hard up the organizational ladder behind them, it is possible the Cubs could choose to move one of the two in a deal rather than being forced to squeeze both on to the 40-man in the offseason. Much will depend on what the Cubs decide regarding Addison Russell and Daniel Descalso. If the organization moves on from one or both, the the quintet of Garcia, Giambrone, Short, Happ and David Bote could keep the seat warm at 2B and provide bench/AAA depth while Nico Hoerner completes his development.

The lack of experience does not bother me, especially if they could get one of Dixon Machado or Phillip Evans (or find a similar player) to agree to another Minor League deal in the offseason. I actually like the potential of a 2020 bench anchored by Bote and Garcia backing up Javy and Nico in the middle infield, with Happ (assuming he looks better next spring) as an option in both the infield and outfield, and then Short and Giambrone providing additional depth at Iowa.

Upper Level Starter

40 Man Roster: Adbert AlzolayJustin Steele / Alec Mills (Out of Options)

Rule 5 Eligible: Tyson Miller / Colin Rea (UFA) / Trevor Clifton (UFA) / Matt Swarmer / Thomas Hatch

Depth: Cory Abbott / Keegan Thompson / Alex Lange

Adbert Alzolay and Tyson Miller have positioned themselves as the cream of this crop during the course of the year. Both should be ready to compete for any rotation openings at the MLB level next spring. With the struggles of the organization to develop Major League arms there has to be a strong sentiment within to hold on to these two guys, but their 2019 success also make them the most appealing to other teams. Unless the Cubs decide to swing for the fences on a deadline deal, I doubt either get included, leaving the rest of the arms here as the most likely targets should a team be pursuing upper level starting pitchers.

Cory Abbott (photo by Rikk Carlson)

Cory Abbott (photo by Rikk Carlson)

Cory Abbott has emerged as the top hurler (or at least most MLB-ready) from the Cubs college pitching heavy 2017 draft class. Keegan Thompson, Alex Lange and Erich Uelmen are right behind him though, and Brendon Little still possesses as much upside as any of them. With all five remaining on the prospect map, the time is fast approaching when each becomes Rule 5 eligible in the 2020 offseason. The team simply won't be able to absorb that large of group on to the 40-man roster at the same time, so I can see the Cubs making all or most of them readily available this deadline.

Upper Level Reliever

40 Man Roster: Kyle Ryan (Out of Options) / Dillon Maples / Rowan Wick / James Norwood / Randy Rosario (Out of Options) / Duane Underwood, Jr. (Out of Options) / Oscar De La Cruz

Rule 5 Eligible: Danny Hultzen (UFA) / Dakota Mekkes / Craig Brooks / Michael Rucker / Bailey Clark / Wyatt Short

The five right-handers currently on the 40-man roster all possess plenty of raw talent, but none have ever mustered enough consistent control and command to take full advantage. With the majority of the Chicago bullpen set for free agency in the offseason, there should be an opportunity for at least one of these guys to grab a job next spring. I could see all remaining on the roster and being given that shot come next year, but I would not be surprised to see the organization move on from any number of them.

Dillon Maples

Dillon Maples

Most teams have talented but enigmatic arms like this, and it is really difficult to get a read on when or if the light will come on. They often run out of options with their original organization before they do, and thus begin spinning through the league on the waiver wire roulette. The goal is to collect as many as your roster space allows at any one time and cross your fingers that one makes a breakthrough while in your system.

The team will need to make room for Dakota Mekkes, and assuming he stays healthy, Danny Hultzen. Both are talented enough to protect on the roster.

Comments

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    What about Javier Assad? I think he has value and is still young and has a future.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    There are other guys that have value beyond those I listed. This isn't a comprehensive list of the entire system. The Cubs have plenty of other pitchers of value not listed, and lots of talent in the lower levels that could get included in a deal.

    As far as Assad, I tend to view him as a Duncan Robinson or Jen-Ho Tseng type. I think his stuff ends up coming up a bit short as a MLB starter. He'll need to develop plus command IMO. There's a chance he does, but I think it more likely he tops out as AAA depth or a middle reliever.

  • Great article Michael, thanks!!! Do you think Theo might look at trading Almora or Schwarber?

  • In reply to C R wolf:

    Maybe. I think far more is on the table now than it was a month ago. Schwarber has shown enough, and I don't see the Cubs as having a viable replacement for him, so I tend to think he stays. But Almora is possible as long as they can acquire an outfielder capable of playing CF.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    But I will say that I hope the Cubs are looking to add, not subtract from the current roster. I think Almora and Schwarber have been and are capable of performing on a winning roster, but Cubs need to add an OF bat to supplement them in the role that Zobrist was supposed to fill.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    The Cubs depth has been thinned by Happ's regression, Zobrist's absence and Descalso's failures. Robel could potentially fill one of those holes, but the Cubs need to make additions to address the others, and that will be challenging enough without opening my holes by trading guys like Almora/Schwarber.

  • Michael....great information. Looking back at 2017, it sure seems like the FO became too much like us fans. If we only make this deal, it will fix the problems, etc. The truth is, that team just didn't have "IT". It's easy to be a Monday morning qb, isn't it.........

    But what would have happened if we didn't trade Candelario and Paredes (became 2, top 100 MLB prospects) to the Tigers for Avila and Wilson?

    Or, Jimenez and Cease to the White Sox for Q?

    Or, a deal I have been told could have been made in 2017 at the All-Star break.......Arrieta, Russell and Wade Davis to the Nats for Turner (broke wrist against Cubs). The Nats needed another starter and a closer. That Nats team was better than ours. We got darn lucky that the umps misinterpreted the rules with Javy's SO and that our manager was better than their manager. It seems the FO thought they would get Verlander on a low ball deal during the August waiver period, thus making our team very formidable once it had Q. Plus, the FO really thought that Russell was better than he has shown on the field and they were Ostrich-like with his off field antics. Heck, BP recounted many times without naming him that he was not a good guy.

    Anyway, I wish our FO would treat our elite prospects as gold and not trade them. Have the Yankees or Astros traded an elite prospect in the last 5-7 years? I can't think of any. BTW, I don't count Torres to the Yankees as a bad deal. We do not get to the WS, let alone win it, without Chapman.

  • In reply to TexasCubsFan:

    I understand the criticisms of all of these players we’d like to have around today esp regarding the Q trade. But your what if scenario basically asks the cubs to concede their 2017 team. That’s easy to say in retrospect after they lost in the nlcs. But they had just beaten the dodgers in 2016. With the information and knowledge they about that team at that point in time, why in the world would they punt the 2017 season with an aging rotation? If they beat the dodgers in the nlcs nobody’s questioning the win now moves, but bc they came up short now they shoulda sold based on unfavorable results in retrospect. I feel it’s easy for fans to say things like this now, but to me it’s outcome biased. They had a limited championship window to maximize, and they went for it. It worked out in 2016 in a way as you said with Chapman but not in 2017. But doesn’t playing in the NLCS for a chance to go to the WS technically validate their decision not to tank the 2017 season for long term upgrades?

  • In reply to kkhiavi:

    The Cubs were 2 games under 500 at the All Star break. The FO cannot think like a fan. Your “Championship Window” comment defines fan think. Isn’t the FO supposed to look current and long term? Do you think we could have snagged Turner and then made a real play for Verlander. Our FO is soft when it comes to trading players. The league knows it. Cashman is the exact opposite. He will slow walk to get what he wants. And, he will wait to get it. 27 Rings gives him some flexibility but the expectation to win does not. Our FO is far to aggressive to get deals done now. You know it. I know it. The other GMs know it. I mentioned in 2016 that the league was going to force Theo to over pay. No one wanted to hand him a WS without exacting pain (Chapman trade). That is the league wide talk. You seem to be connected. You know this is true.

  • In reply to TexasCubsFan:

    I would like to see them thing more long term at times but they do have a championship window in a way to factor in with an aging rotation and a core that becomes free agents within a close time frame. I completely agree that theos biggest fault with the cubs has been forcing win now deals at times to maximize their chances of winning in a given season. But that strategy gives and it takes away he’s had some win now trades that aided the Red Sox championship pursuit. And the cubs are still cursed if they didn’t do what it took to acquire Chapman. In 2016 the only available closers were the pirates melancon, the Yankees Andrew miller and Chapman. Pirates don’t deal with the cubs so the yanks had all the leverage, but I think we can all be glad that theo ensured the team had a championship caliber closer instead of panicking over the high cost.

    As for 2017 I’m guessing you were one of the fans that wrote them off around this time during that 2017 season when they were fatigued. But the front office believed that the 2017 group was talented and could turn things around. After a very strong 2nd half I think it’s safe to say their optimism in that group to turn things around was absolutely correct. Losing in the nlcs doesn’t change that. I’ll gamble on a chance to go to the World Series even as an underdog any day of the week over selling, and they don’t get that far without Q. Teams don’t just sell because they’re merely the 2nd or 3rd favorite, but not THE favorite. Baseball is too unpredictable to lay down to any team, and frankly why would they lay down to the dodgers given the information they had at that time? Especially in 2017 having just knocked them out the postseason before. It’s easy to analyze after the fact and say they’d have benefited more long term by doing this and this. But why would they lay down with the information they had at that point in time. They had a highly successful team and there was no reason to think it was impossible for them to make a deep run, which they did in large part bc of their win now trades. Even Alex Avila was a big part in their success with willson out for an extended period of time.

  • In reply to kkhiavi:

    Absolutely I wanted to upgrade the team in the window. Sometimes you extend the window by taking a pass. The team did not have the talent or chemistry to win it and n 2017. That’s not hindsight. That was looking clearly without rose colored glasses.

    It seems you think I disagree with the Chapman deal in 2016. I will say it again. We don’t get to the WS, let alone win it, without Chapman. I’m saying the league was going to make any trade painful for this FO.

    Overall, Trades and FA signings since 2017 have been poor to below average. Q is a solid major league pitcher. Wilson/Avila deal was average. What could we have done with the prospect currency of Jimenez, Cease, Candelario and Paredes if we would been more patient? That’s not a hindsight question. That’s a strategic, then tactical question. When those deals were completed, a person in another FO said that Theo has made his mind up he’s leaving the Cubs at the end of his contract. When I asked why, he said it’s clear he will quickly empty the cupboards to win another WS fast. It’s no different than a CEO trading long term growth for short term profits.

  • In reply to TexasCubsFan:

    Easy to say they should’ve sold Davis and arrieta after they lost once again. But let’s blame everything on theo he should’ve just given up on a championship roster that went to the final 4. Having faith in his at the time extremely successful and highly regarded core of players made sense in that moment. You and 60 are judging based on the fact they lost in 2017. If theo didn’t add to the team and they went on to have a red hot 2nd half, then other fans would be criticizing that he didn’t make the necessary moves to get that group over the top. Again the NL was literally a 3 horse race between the Nats, the dodgers and cubs why would they sell? You may have had low expectations for them but they ended up turning things around, and beating a Championship caliber nats team. I understand criticism of the value they received on certain individual moves, but it certainly wasn’t some egregious decision to make win now moves instead of selling off assets as you suggested. Easy to say these things as we sit here in 2019 and analyze but big market teams don’t just tank a season where they have a top 3 type of roster in the NL. If they trade arrieta and wade Davis that’s tanking a pretty promising season and roster at that moment. And how was lack of chemistry for the 2017 group apparent back then no offense is that based on your intuition? How does one even quantify something like that esp in 2017 after they had just won a title? They were perfectly justified in not panicking and selling off assets. Maybe you’re right and Theo is planning on leaving after 10 years, so he’s going all in until then. But even if they don’t make the Q trade I don’t think there’s any intelligent big market GM that would be selling off assets like arrieta and wade Davis when they’re a divisional favorite.

  • In reply to kkhiavi:

    If the Cubs received Trea Turner during the 2017 ASB for the Arrieta, Davis and Russell package, is that tanking as you state above? I think you are completely missing the point. That single move would have extended the window (if Turner remains healthy) by 2-3 years.

    Would it have diminished the likelihood of making the playoffs in 2017, likely but not guaranteed.

    Let’s go back to ASB 2017. The Cubs defense was league average and starting pitching was a touch below league average and there was a need for a swing and miss lefty. Adding Q made the rotation slightly above average. It did not make it a WS favorite.

    This is where FO needs to make the best long term decision for the organization. The 2017 moves were made to placate a passionate fan base more than extend the championship window.

    One more thing, this FO never said they would guarantee playoff appearances. They stated they would be playoff competitive.

  • In reply to TexasCubsFan:

    Where did you come up with made up trade for Turner?

  • In reply to TexasCubsFan:

    I mean I respect your right to your opinion and understand how you’d want the front office to think more long term. But why would the nats trade turners cost controlled career for 2 expiring contracts plus Addison Russell in the midst of his 1st decline season? You’re assuming a trade acceptance is there and I’d argue it almost certainly wasn’t. You can’t just throw out a trade and say this deal was on the table. The cubs are a big market big business team and what team in their position just throws a season away to trade for prospects, which is what they’d actually get if they traded those guys. I respect your opinion on baseball matters but don’t think you’re looking at things from the front offices perspective, or a realistic perspective. I agree that they likely couldve gotten a better player then Q had they held onto some of their top prospects longer. But easy to say sitting from my computer in 2019

  • In reply to TexasCubsFan:

    And I’m not trying to doubt your connections or that you know an insider. But I’m personally not buying the nats accept that offer. I wouldn’t buy that even if I heard major league execs spreading rumors like that

  • In reply to TexasCubsFan:

    That said if they chose to make win now trades I agree I’d have preferred if they waited for other players besides Wilson or Q. I agree that better talent would’ve been available for that group of prospects if they waited for a deal down the line

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    In reply to kkhiavi:

    Love the discussion between you two,, very informative and what Cubs Den is all about

  • In reply to John Nesbit:

    Lol John, as I was reading both of their opinions - I had the exact thought that you just posted. Very good and informative discussion.

  • In reply to John Nesbit:

    Agreed. This is what I miss. With no childish insults. John would be proud.

  • In reply to TexasCubsFan:

    And this isn’t to defend the Q move or anything like that. I just think their decision to go for it and not sell was clearly justified by the results

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to kkhiavi:

    Got to agree with the Texas cub fan and the results so far and will continue to prove him right

  • Well, that makes you wrong again as usual. Keep posting though the say you will be right at least once more.

  • In reply to 2016 Cubs:

    2016...to answer your earlier question. I own a company that provides services. A few of our clients are MLB teams. The information provided was provided to me independently (after the fact, of course) by 3 of our clients. I understand your skepticism today and in the past.

  • In reply to 2016 Cubs:

    and by the way, if you want information within any team, there is one key person to befriend in every sports organization. It's the same key position which is funny. It's no different when researching corporate espionage. There are certain key positions/employees to gain information. They sing like canaries after the fact.

  • In reply to TexasCubsFan:

    That’s cool though Texas cub fan and we’d love to hear about any rumors you hear through some of your connections

  • In reply to TexasCubsFan:

    Thanks for replying back. I still do not buy that trade. Doesn't make sense to me.

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    In reply to 2016 Cubs:

    Hey man tone it down my opinion right sometimes wrong sometimes. Oh and quit stalking me

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to 2016 Cubs:

    Oh and my record is much much better in the stock market than the sports area which unlike you I don’t admit knowing it all. But if you need a stock tip don’t call me

  • If you’re giving market tips, I’m listening. Need something more than buy low, sell high. :) :)

  • Great article. Lots here.

    One question Robel Garcia to be a major leaguer. Does that mean he is able to cut the % of K's he had in Triple A

  • In reply to HJW49:

    Not really. Guys can succeed with high K rates as long as they draw walks and hit for power. Garcia does both. He has a solid eye and pitch recognition. He can adjust to offspeed pitches that are left in the zone, and he does an excellent job of using the middle of the field. And he is one of those guys that can actually drive the ball out to CF with ease as well.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    Like his swing. A lot. And frankly the reach out single over SS on the 2-2 count (if I'm not mistaken) was my favorite.

  • Oscar de la Cruz seems to really be thriving in his new role as a reliever, do you think he can be a real impact player?

  • In reply to Treebeard:

    Impact? Probably not. I mean, he could end up as a late inning guy, but not like an elite closer type.

  • Okay, I should've quantified impact; is Edwards Jr. considered impact? Maybe I don't know what it takes to BE considered an impact player............

  • In reply to Treebeard:

    Yeah, he could certainly turn out to be an 8th inning guy like Edwards. He needs to tighten up the consistency on his secondaries though. Edwards has two plus pitches that when he has them working allow him to be lights out. De La Cruz is more of a guy with 3 average pitches that flash above average. He needs one of those secondaries to become something he can rely on.

  • Lots of good information in the piece.
    But a week ago you refused to call Robel Garcia “a prospect”. What is he now? Is he potentially Tommy LaStella, Allstar second baseman with the Angels before fracturing his tibia? Or as a participant wrote, the next Starlin Castro?

    My first trade option for the Cubs is Javier Baez. Interesting parallel the Trib’s Sullivan made with Theo trading Nomar Garciaparra to the Cubs to shake up the 2004 Red Sox during their pennant push.

    I like the idea because Javy’ s bias is hitting homers above all now. His ego is ruining his fascinating talent. I hate the idea of Addison Russell playing shortstop til Nico Hoerner is ready. Maybe Bote can handle the position. But Baez will get them the talent to possibly get to the World Series, or begin the retool or rebuild this team needs. Look at Pittsburgh and Cincinnati and the interesting teams they have coming together now. The Cubs as currently constituted are becoming a yesterday story. They need to do something radical.

  • In reply to Swarf:

    Um, I've been calling Robel García a prospect since opening day...
    I've never considered him a can't miss guy, because there is definitely some defense and swing-and-miss concerns with his game, but I have absolutely considered him a future bench bat. His age puts a likely ceiling on him too. He's not going to get bigger, stronger, faster from this point. All those physical skills will basically begin declining as soon as he establishes himself in the Majors. He's similar to Bote in that regard (another guy I always liked and advocated for).

  • In reply to Swarf:

    You are not going to convince me that trading Javier Baez is a good idea unless the return involves a better player like Mike Trout.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    Nomar Garciaparra was a declining player whose name surpassed his value when the Red Sox traded him. He was no longer a quality defender at SS and his bat while still strong was nowhere near its MVP caliber peak. None of that is the case with Baez.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    Add in the real reason Nomar was traded. He turned down a great contract extension and then moaned and groaned to his friends in the Boston media. He became a clubhouse cancer.

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    In reply to Michael Ernst:

    Totally agree on Baez, no way you trade your best player and he is still getting better. As for Garcia, yes he can cut down on his strikeouts, just look no further than Baez, learning to go opposite field can probably reduce strikeoeuts 5-10 per cent, now can he do that to remain in the bigs is the question, this is the same thing the cubs are going through with Happ and Schwarber.
    On a side note I think Schwarber might be in play on a trade before Almora, Probably before the deadline.

  • In reply to tater:

    Um, Baez has not cut down his strikeouts. They are actually up this year.

  • In reply to 2016 Cubs:

    I understood Michel comparing Baez today vs. when he entered the league and using that comparison for Garcia. I didn't read it as 2018 Baez vs. 2019 Baez.

  • In reply to Swarf:

    Nomar was also in a very contentious contract battle with the Red Sox when he was shipped out which does not apply at all with Baez.

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    As you said Nomar was declining and also 30 when he was traded. I could see the Cubs, and I hate to say it, trade KB next year if pressed because he still would have a year left on his contract and could get premium prospects back--but KB is a proven ML star and a prospect is still a prospect.
    I'm wondering about James Norwood and Bailey Clark, and also the Cubs 1st round choice this year, Ryan Jensen. Are the first 2 legitimate ML closers or at least set up men, and is Jensen a starter or reliever, and if a reliever he is closer to the majors too--maybe this year (doubt it) but certainly next year. Is that possible?
    Thanks for all the work Michael.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    I don't think Norwood or Clark are legitimate closer candidates. Norwood would have the better chance between the two, especially considering Clark can't seem to stay healthy for more than a month at a time.

    Jensen is going to be developed as a starter. He has the talent and stamina for it in the limited video I've seen. Not ready to say it definitively until I get a longer look though.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Michael Ernst:

    Thanks Michael.

  • Michael, some players develop later. Consider Josh Donaldson who had a “cup of coffee “
    ‘ at 25, but was still was considered a rookie in 2012 at 26.

    I like the Robel Garcia story. He weighed 150 pounds when he was in the Indians system. Now he is a “man” and he has the power swing of, well, a Tommy LaStella. Believe in the restorative power of pasta.

    Regarding Baez, he has magnificent talent, but his raw egotism is losing as many games as it is winning. Trade him now. I’d rather have a less talented but more team oriented guy like the Cardinal’s DeJong.

  • In reply to Swarf:

    In June, Javy made three errors in an eight day period. Someone should remind Javy how many extra pitches the Cubs pitchers had to throw because of his miscues. It also shortened the innings the pitchers threw because of elevated pitch counts and relievers had to be brought in earlier than necessary/

  • In reply to Swarf:

    Swarf,

    I love the Robel story. I've been one of the few telling it since the season began. As somebody who always backed Bote as a prospect, Garcia has developed at a similar age, so I have nothing against him. The age gets brought up, because when dealing with Minor League numbers, and performance at certain levels, it is usually very telling, but obviously don't account for the occasional late bloomer.

    I'll take a team of 8 Javy's against a team of 8 DeJong's, win a 110 games and the division.

  • And Michael, on your recent list of top Cubs prospects, you specifically left out Garcia, which surprised me. I queried you on the blog and you argued he was not a “prospect” because of “age”.

  • In reply to Swarf:

    My recent list of top prospects stopped at like 11 names. Garcia was (and still is) like 12th or 13th in my rankings. I think he ends up like Bote. He may end up a starter, and hit 25+ homers in a season, but it isn't likely to be maintained for long. And since he isn't a great defender he can't afford to slump, or he'll get yanked from he lineup.

  • Michael,
    I cannot understand while , in my opinion, the Cubs brass feel that Kyle Schwarber is untouchable. Leading off, batting 228 with average at best defense and average speed , there must be better options for batting lead off and playing better defense in left field. Theo passed on Andrew McCutchon and Michael Brantly last year who clearly would have provided an upgrade at left field. And who will be the loser in this lack of production, Joe Maddon.

  • In reply to ronvet69:

    The Cubs clearly did have budget issues this past offseason, I don't think the front office sat it out by choice. That would be very out of character by them. They have been aggressive every offseason and trade deadline until this past one.

    As for Schwarber, I do think he gained semi-untouchable status without really earning it. But as the rebuild was happening, and once the Cubs won the World Series Schwarber was the one left-handed power bat that developed who could balance the lineup alongside Rizzo, and so that would have made him a piece they were loathe to move anyway, but add in that they clearly love his character and work ethic and I definitely think it became a sort of "this is the year he puts it all together" mentality.

    Schwarber is leading off because Zobrist and Descalso failed in the role. This was not the plan. They clearly intended Schwarber to hit in the 5 or 6 spot in the lineup if you look back at the lineups in April.

  • With the coming catcher issue, would the Cubs consider trading a current MLB catcher? Just a thought, but Caratini could be a pretty nice chip. The Cubs don't want to get rid of him, but do Contreras and Caratini provide more value than Contreras, Taylor, AND whomever they might get for Caratini? Before the protests begin, understand that I'm asking about the possibility, not saying the Cubs should get rid of Caratini.

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    Listened to a conversation on the radio today. Stating Contreras would bring back the biggest haul if cubs were to trade him.

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    I like Caratini, I'd be (sad but) open to trading him; but only if we feel comfortable with Davis as the backup for this year, and at least part of next. None of our upper tier of catching prospects will be ready next year, to my knowledge.......

  • In reply to Treebeard:

    Davis cannot hit and looked completely overmatched here at the plate.......the GS against St Lou was a lucky one that he just walked into.

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    It would be possible, if a team valued Contreras or Caratini highly enough, and the Cubs were able to arrange a separate deal to bring in a backup (Davis is fine as a 3, but wouldn't feel comfortable with him as a fulltime roster player).
    It wouldn't really change the roster math though, as Pereda and Amaya would both still not be ready in 2020, but would still need to be on the 40, and the Cubs would need three others in addition to them.

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    In reply to Michael Ernst:

    I would think with the cubs adding two top catching prospects in the IFA, and also Hearns in the mlb draft, a catching prospect will be one item the cubs will be including in any deals they make this year.

  • In reply to tater:

    Honestly, that's a coincidence. The Quintero deal would have been arranged long ago. The Cubs have essentially ignored the catcher position the past two draft and IFA periods. They were going to restock the bottom of that positional pipeline in a major way regardless of the circumstances at the top of the pipeline. That position takes a long time to develop.

  • Good stuff guys. I think the loss of Zobrist has really hurt this team. It reminds me of when the Blackhawks lost Marian Hossa.

  • In reply to Hagsag:

    What have the Cubs struggled with the most this year? Situational hitting and making contact in important spots.
    Who has been their best player at doing that for most of the past few years? Ben Zobrist.
    It has absolutely been an unexpected blow, that the Cubs have been unable to replace up to this point.

  • Great article Michael with lots of information. Looming 40-man roster issues could possibly help fuel a minor deal, but with a minor league system ranked among the MLB's worst, any major deal would seem to need a current 25-man roster player to be included. Thank you for your insights.

  • In reply to Ringer:

    The Cubs system has improved greatly in the past year. They have enough talent to facilitate a major trade if they want to go that route. It wouldn't require guys off the MLB R roster. Those national rankings are slow to update and usually about 6 months behind the actual situation. You'll see the Cubs begin to rise up beginning this offseason, assuming they don't gut the system this deadline.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    They're probably still bottom half, but much closer to the middle of the pack than the back like they were at the start of 2018.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    Couldn't agree more. It's been a while since I tracked multiple guys with much interest on a daily basis. '21 will be here sooner than a later. Some big decisions are looming.

    Being realistic what are the chances of Bryant getting a Boras mega contract from the Cubs? We all know he's going to be looking for a Harper deal.

    Tough nut for me. I don't see the big market team that needs a 3B at those dollars. Unless he moves to the OF which is more than possible.

    I guess the bottom line is there's no way they can keep all of them. Choices will have to be made. Little doubt those wheels are already spinning.

  • Enjoyed this group of comments more than most. Less handwringing, more info and fun speculation which is what I was hoping for.
    Though a Baez trade makes the most sense to me, a Contreras or Caratini trade is the more likely move Theo and Jed will make. Contreras would command a ton of either top prospects, current pitching, or crucial offense. Willson would be a huge loss, but Caratini is coming into his own as an offensive player and has improved to adequate as a defender. I could imagine a team like Pittsburgh with outstanding contact hitters would jump at a deal like that and possibly include catcher Stallings, who has upside, in a package. It would be a tough call to send him to a team in the Division, but it is the kind of radical deal that could remake the Cubs on the fly if they choose to hold on to Javier Baez.

  • Having a hard time logging in with Firefox/Duck duck go browser.
    I don't this team will win it all this year, keep the asserts. I am more worried about the earthquakes, had a 7.1 last night.

  • Assets, not asserts

  • Keep Javy, now a face of the team

  • I think this season, and 2017 are similar. Cubs should consider selling some of their major leaguers for prospects. While at the same time picking up some lower priced trade value rental players. Being both buyers, and sellers during the 2019 season. I think the Cubs have the depth to trade Quintana during this season. During the offseason I hope the Cubs get daring, and trade at least one of their studs. Rizzo, KB, & Contreras.

  • In reply to Naujack:

    Why would you want to be sellers this year. That makes no sense. Trade major leaguers for prospects? Seriously? I have no idea why I even replied to this post.

  • In reply to 2016 Cubs:

    I'm wasn't saying a full blown house cleaning. I think they should look into selling a few players, and buying some rentals at the same time.

    Some people said they should of been sellers in 2017. Are they better this year then 2017? Maybe, but I would like the Cubs trade one of their stud hitter this offseason.

    I have no idea how players are valued, but Quintana to San Diego for a younger OF.

    If the Cubs really had some guts trade Quintana, Hamel, and a RP or two in a package kinda like the Russell trade to A's. Then go buy a few cheaper rentals, and see what happens.

    The front offices seems to be pretty good at trading for younger players. They also seem to do pretty well with smaller value rental type players. Try something different.

  • In reply to Naujack:

    No thanks. The Cubs are trying to win now. Last thing they should do is "trade one of their stud hitters". Unless it makes them better. And I don't see that happening.

  • I did say trade a stud hitter in the offseason. The Cubs are trying to win, as long as the payroll doesn't go over a certain amount. They are spending a lot, but have payroll limitations. I would like to see them trade a current starting pitcher this season for a younger hitter at a position of need. Rizzo is going to 30 next month, and has two option years left. I have no issues with trading your studs when they are good, especially when they get a little more expensive like Rizzo and Bryant. I can see your point too. I would like to see the Cubs front office get a little more aggressive, maybe one step back to take two steps forward.

  • Trade anybody who is going to a FA after this year unless he still
    is good to keep for another year

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