The Chicago Cubs are the dynasty that never happened. It seemed like something special was brewing in 2015 and 2016. The Cubs made it to the NLCS in 2015 where they got swept by the Mets. The next year, they went on to end their World Series drought when they beat the Cleveland Indians in 7 games. After that season, it looked liked the Cubs were set to dominate baseball for years to come. However, since their championship, they have been disappointing. With their recent struggles, the team seems to be shifting into sell mode. The Chicago Cubs will look to trade off their core. Therefore, a lot of big names will be on the move from the Cubs.
The biggest trade piece on the Cubs is star 3B/OF, Kris Bryant. Bryant would bring back the biggest haul of all of the major trade pieces the Cubs have. The biggest strike against Bryant currently is that the team acquiring would be only guaranteeing themselves a half season of Bryant’s services. He is a free agent after this season and that might hinder what type of return the Cubs could get in trading him.
Who would be potential suitors for Bryant? I expect the Mets to be in the competition for Bryant’s services. They have the prospects to pull it off and the positional need as well. Third base has been somewhat of a question mark for the Mets this season. Austin Riley is having a breakout season and solidifying himself as the Braves third baseman of the present and the future. The Cubs may be hesitant to trade within division so the Brewers may be out of the question. The Giants are leading the National League West and have an aging Evan Longoria and Bryant can help them outplay the Dodger and Padres. Regardless of where he ends up, it is becoming more and more likely that he will not be a Cub on August 1.
Willson Contreras took the big leagues by storm when he hit a homerun in his first Major League pitch. Since he made his debut in 2016, Contreras has been one of the best catchers in all of baseball. He is one of the rare breeds in baseball where he is elite offensively and defensively. He has a canon of an arm and an elite bat. Contreras has been north of a 3-win player in half of his big league seasons. He has been an above-replacement level player in all of his big league seasons. He would certainly make any team acquiring his services better.
Anthony Rizzo is another name the Chicago Cubs may look to trade over the next couple weeks. I have already seen Red Sox fans discuss a Rizzo reunion. Rizzo was once a member of the Red Sox organization. He was one of the key pieces the Red Sox sent to the Padres in the Adrian Gonzalez trade. Rizzo made his Major League debut with the San Diego Padres. He was then traded to the Cubs in exchange for Andrew Cashner and Kyung-Min Na. Rizzo career obviously took off with the Cubs and caught the last out from Kris Bryant in the 2016 World Series. Rizzo would be an excellent addition to the Red Sox lineup. The Red Sox have performed above expectations this season and Rizzo would help them keep pace with the Tampa Bay Rays at the top of the AL East.
That last key piece the Chicago Cubs would look to trade away is short stop, Javy Baez. Baez is an extremely flashy player who makes the game look easy at times. He flashes the leather like few others across the game and places the tag down better than anyone. Baez is one of many elite shortstops on the free agent market this offseason. He would join Trevor Story, Corey Seager, and Carlos Correa as free agents. Baez would likely command the least of the others, but he will still command a large contract. Baez has two 6-win seasons under his belt and has accumulated a 2.7 WAR during the first half of this season.
Bryant, Rizzo, and Baez are all impending free agents. Contreras still has some years left of team control so they may hold on to him for one more season. However, acquiring that control may tempt the acquiring team to give up a little more for his services. Bryant is the prized possession of the four, while Baez may not be the trade chip they think he is. This core did not produce as many magical seasons as the fans and management expected. However, they did produce one season that Cubs fans have been waiting multiple generations for. This Cubs team will look very different in a couple weeks, so fans should cherish their last few games with the core that ended the curse of the Billy Goat.
-Pete Chatterton (@Pchat12)
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