Let's try to do this systematically.
Let's start by saying that each team that's currently a division leader should be considered in the playoff hunt for 2014. So we should consider what the Cubs could get back from each of the Blue Jays, Tigers, Athletics, Braves, Brewers, and Giants.
In the National League, there are five non-division-leading teams that have positive run differentials as of 12:01 a.m. May 31. They are the Cardinals, Marlins, Dodgers, Rockies, and Nationals. So we'll look at each of them. (They each have at least a .500 record as well so that seems like a good metric then.) If one of the Padres, Mets, Pirates, Phillies, Reds, or Diamondbacks decides they're "going for it" I will never write another "what could they get" post again because that's just insane.
The American League is harder to analyze. Just two non-division-leading teams have positive run differentials. One looks like a very good team -- the Angels -- and the other looks like just an okay team, the Mariners. For now we'll include them both. The Yankees and Orioles, and Rangers each has a near-.500 record today so I'll bring them along -- with one exception. Because Texas has suffered so many injuries, and plays in a division with what looks like three great teams, I'm going to use a judge's buzzer button and replace them with the Red Sox, who currently have a much worse record than Texas but just strike me as a team that could turn it around in a minute. They're talent-laden.
Which of those teams already has pretty excellent starting pitching? Looking at ERA, FIP, and general staff construction, I don't think the Braves, Cardinals, Nationals, Giants, Brewers, Tigers, Angels, Athletics, Red Sox, or Dodgers will be acquiring a starter anytime soon.
That leaves me with six teams to talk about, which I think is a good number considering how much time I'm willing to devote to this walkthrough. Without further ado!
6. Miami Marlins (Chance of trade: Unlikely)
It should be obvious why the Marlins are here. They've actually got a decent amount of depth in the rotation it looks like, but I don't have to tell you that losing Jose Fernandez to injury is just crushing. Eovaldi and Alvarez are for real, but I don't think they can trust Tom Koehler to be their 3. I wouldn't be surprised to see this team stay out of the trade market and just see how far its current roster can take it, but if they do decide to go for it, Jason Hammel could help them a ton.
Potential Trade Targets: Jake Marisnick (OF), Justin Nicolino (P), Adam Conley (P)
(Note: I am being extremely reckless with my "potential trade target" picks: I'm looking at each team's Top 15 Prospects list from Fangraphs for outfielders, catchers, or pitchers that profile to be back-end major league starters.)
5. Seattle Mariners (Chance of trade: Unlikely)
Unlike the Marlins, the Mariners are not currently in contention for a wild card spot. But there are some bats in Seattle, and King Felix and Iwakuma make a formidable 1-2 punch, with Taijuan Walker lurking. Their odds aren't good enough to merit spending what it would take to get Samardzija, but I have to think they'd be interested in Hammel.
Potential Trade Targets: James Paxton (P), Victor Sanchez (P), Danny Hultzen (P)
4. Colorado Rockies (Chance of trade: Slight)
The Rockies are a good team, with more wins than losses as of this morning, and a good strong positive run differential. They probably have enough arms where they should consider just playing out the string with what they've got, and they're behind two very good teams elsewhere in the division in the Giants and Dodgers. But they have the bats to keep pace with the likes of St. Louis, Washington, and Miami, and Jason Hammel would help them even further.
Potential Trade Targets: Tom Murphy (C), Kyle Parker (OF), Corey Dickerson (OF)
3. New York Yankees (Chance of trade: Legit)
The Yankees are certainly in it, but their rotation is basically a war hospital, with Sabathia, Nova, and Pineda all hurt.
Potential Trade Targets: Zoilo Almonte (OF), Gary Sanchez (C), JR Murphy (C)
2. Baltimore Orioles (Chance of trade: Like for real)
These next two teams have been explicitly mentioned by several writers as having interest in Jeff Samardzija, so I won't justify their inclusion.
Potential Trade Targets: Dylan Bundy (P), Kevin Gausman (P), Eduardo Rodriguez (P), Hunter Harvey (P), anyone else at this link
1. Toronto Blue Jays (Chance of trade: Like also for real)
Potential Trade Targets: Aaron Sanchez (P), Marcus Stroman (P), anyone at this link
Thanks for reading; if you enjoyed it, please share with others. And if you'd like to be updated on my future posts, and those from the rest of the Cubs Insider team, you can subscribe below.
Type your email address in the box and click the "create subscription" button. My list is completely spam free, and you can opt out at any time.
And be sure to like Cubs Insider on Facebook.
Filed under: Uncategorized