The Cubs are going to be sellers this trade season. Their woebegone record and beleaguered roster make that all but a certainty.
But there is a chance, and not a terribly small chance, that the Cubs could also be buyers. The time for this front office to acquire players they want for the push into competitiveness is when those players are available. That may not happen precisely when the Cubs (or Cub fans) would want it to, so the front office will no doubt be monitoring buying opportunities as they appear. If someone like Giancarlo Stanton does become available (unlikely as that looks), the Cubs will almost certainly be one of the buyers at the table.
That means some of the Cubs’ prospects could be traded over the next six and a half weeks or so. Even the cream of the farm system could be in the conversation, depending on the deal. After the weekly recap of the farm system we’ll take a look at some of the minor league players who are the most likely to be traded.
Iowa Cubs : 32-36
A surprisingly good week finds the Cubs on the doorstop of .500 and just 2.5 games back of first place. The Cubs have the best home record in the division (take a bow, Iowa fans) and it is on the strength of that home record that they are putting up a fight and trying to catch the Cardinals at the top of the division. Cubs and Cardinals competing through the summer in a division race … there is something just right about that idea. Hopefully this is the harbinger of seasons to come in Chicago..
Tennessee Smokies : 33-34
The Cubs will finish the first half of the season no higher than second place. Despite having two of the biggest breakout stories in the organization on their roster, the Smokies slumped through a first half decimated by injuries (particularly Justin Bour and Jae-Hoon Ha) and inefficiency in the bullpen.
A healthy roster with perhaps a few additions from Daytona should put this time in a good position to make a second half run, though. The postseason is not out of reach by any means.
Daytona Cubs : 33-30
With just a few games to go before the end of the first half, the Cubs are just one game back of first place. The Cubs enjoy the best road record in the division, and their home record is improving. That is no surprise given they may have the most talented offense in the league. It was not that long ago that a first half division title looked out of reach, but suddenly the Cubs are in the thick of it. This could be an exciting week for Daytona fans. Stay tuned.
Kane County Cougars : 29-36
Kane County is falling to an ignominious finish near the bottom of the division. They are no where near contention … or .500 for that matter. The talent on this team is better than the record indicates, but that record does reflect that the Cougars are one of the youngest teams in the league. Team record in the minors often has more to do with experience and age than talent or individual ceilings, so we should not let the lackluster number of wins cast any disparagement on the quality of the players on the roster. This is a loaded team.
And now that they have half a season of experience behind them, I think we will see some better results in the second half. I’m not sure how long some of that talent is going to stay in town, though. There are a handful of mid-seson promotion candidates on this team.
Boise Hawks : 1-1
The Boise Hawks are in action. They have played just two game so the stats do not mean very much just yet, but it is good to see this team finally taking the diamond. The Hawks, along with the Arizona Rookie League Cubs when they get started, will be regular parts of the Daily for the rest of the season.
The AZL Cubs fire up their season on June 20.
Let me start with a disclaimer: I am not saying these players should be traded, nor am I predicting the Cubs will bundle them up and auction them off for a 43 year old middle reliever and an outfielder who can’t hit. I am also not projecting that they Cubs will be dealing for Stanton, or Cano, or Price, or whatever star is featuring in the latest rumors.
This is just a list of the players that are the most likely to be traded should the right deal emerge.
Javier Baez, SS
It takes value to get value. Quality is not the same thing as quantity.
These basic principles are often overlooked when various trade suggestions are bandied about on the Internet, but when you put them together they very much point to Baez as being one of the prospects most likely to be traded.
All the things that would incline the Cubs to keep him are the same things that other teams will covet. In short, he has value. A lot of value. And teams that are interested in that value will not accept six or ten or fifty lesser prospects as a replacement.
But because Baez has so much value, he will not be dealt for anything less than an impact player in return. Any trade including Baez is bound to be one of the biggest trades of the year, and despite that I think he is one of the most likely to be dealt over the next thirteen months.
A fair bit of what I just wrote about Baez applies to Alcantara as well. Shortstop prospects are very valuable commodities, and Alcantara is also near his peak value. I suspect the Cubs will be more inclined to shift Alcantara permanently to second with the idea of making him Barney’s replacement one day. That does not mean all the other teams will agree with that assessment. If someone is interested in him as a shortstop, then the Cubs might find themselves in a situation in which Alcantara is more valuable to another team than he is to the Cubs.
Brett Jackson, OF
Jackson is both young enough and has enough utility as a defensive outfielder now that I think someone would be interested in taking a gamble on him. At worst he is a quality fifth outfielder, one who can play average or better defense in any of the three outfielder slots and will do very well as a pinch runner. His bat, while lacking consistent contact, should still play well off the bench in the right situations. In short, he’d be a nice, young bench player with upside for a contender with an eye on the future. For the Cubs, the alternative is to keep him on the gamble that he’ll learn to make more consistent contact. Between those two options, the trade route will almost certainly return the Cubs move value. I think we’ll hear Jackson’s name mentioned quite a bit this summer.
Zach Rosscup, LHP
Rosscup is a lefty reliever having a fantastic season in Double A. Players like that can be valuable to a lot of teams, and so I think he will be requested as a part of a package in many potential deals. I think the Cubs may be more reluctant to part with him (because lefty relievers that do well in Double A are nice to have), but in the right deal he could certainly be gone.
Kyler Burke, LHP
Burke has done well since being converted into a pitcher by the Cubs, but unfortunately converting a player into a pitcher takes time. That means the Cubs are rapidly approaching the date when they will have to place him on the 40 man roster or risk losing him in the Rule 5 draft. I’m not sure the Cubs can afford the roster slot for him; I think they’ll deal him rather than risk losing him for nothing. The value here is not terrifically high, but Burke is a pitcher with potential. He would be a nice sweetener in a larger deal.
Rubi Silva, OF
Silva has shown a lot of power this season in Double A, but he is not much of a contact hitter and his walk rate is anemic. In short, he does not fit the profile of player the Cubs are likely to value highly. There are other teams, though, who might see Silva differently and would be interested in adding Silva’s .270 batting average and .491 slugging percentage to their farm system.
Zeke DeVoss, 2B/OF
DeVoss is a patient hitter with plenty of speed on the base paths, but he is also trapped at two of the deepest positions in the organization. Speedy prospects seem to be fairly popular inclusions in trades over the past few seasons, and that suggests that this type of player is one teams are willing to take a gamble on in deals. DeVoss will not bring a high value on his own, but he is another who could be a quality inclusion in a larger deal.
Happy Father’s Day, everyone.
And especially to those of you lucky enough to have your dads nearby. I see my dad maybe four or five times a year now that I’ve moved to the East Coast, and that is about three hundred and sixty times too rarely for my taste. Enjoy that proximity while you have it; you never know when things can change.
If any of you are still looking for last minute Father’s Day presents, might I suggest tickets to your local minor league game? No matter what teams are on the field, minor league games tend to be a great time for all involved.