Ahead of the 2016 season – and, to an extent, the 2015 season – we kept an especially close eye on the players who might be made available at the trade deadline for obvious reasons.
Last season, for example, the Cubs picked Mike Montgomery and Aroldis Chapman before the deadline, and both contributed to the Cubs’ World Series win in very meaningful ways.
The truth is, in today’s trade-heavy MLB environment, contending teams are almost expected to improve significantly at the trade deadline, lest they subject themselves to the regret and what-if scenarios that unexpected injury or ineffectiveness tend to cause. (Imagine how the Cubs year looks if they didn’t make any bullpen additions. They probably still make the playoffs with ease, but do they go all the way through the playoffs? I have my doubts.)
So then, given the Cubs’ expected competitiveness in 2017, it stands to reason that they’ll likely be very active at the trade deadline again this July. To that end, you’ll be interested to learn that Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal is predicting that this year’s installment might be one of the very best in a long time.
In fact, he came up with five reasons why the MLB Trade deadline will be “insane“:
- Trades that have been rumored all offseason but have not happened (yet)
- The new qualifying offer/draft pick compensation rules reduce the incentive to wait
- Many teams that could fall out of contention and sell
- Many teams loaded up with veterans on one-year deals; and
- Certain motivated buyers
I don’t want to dive too deeply into any one of the five reasons, because you should really just check the article out for yourself, but it’s a convincing position and an encouraging signal for the Chicago Cubs.
With that said, we should always be a little cautious predicting how teams will behave in a new CBA environment, because there just always seem to be unanticipated consequences and motivations. But even taking that into consideration, this should be an active deadline.
On the surface, more available players means that the Cubs’ needs – whatever they are when June/July roll around – are more likely to be met. In addition – and more importantly – with more available alternatives, the Cubs should be able to retain some much-needed leverage. After all, they did trade their top prospect (and newly crowned top-five prospect in MLB), Gleyber Torres, for half a season of Aroldis Chapman. If there were significantly more alternatives at that same level of performance, maybe the Cubs could have gone a different route or made due by offering slightly less.*
So whether teams are finishing trades whose foundations were set this winter, trying to take advantage of a new CBA, dealing with unexpected performance drops, or flipping interesting one-year-types, the Cubs’ needs (and there will be needs) will probably have answers in the market.
*[Brett: The broad point here is spot on, though it’s only fair to point out that the back-end reliever crop at the trade deadline in 2016 was actually unusually robust, with Chapman, Andrew Miller, Mark Melancon, and Jeremy Jeffress all being dealt, with several others rumored to be available. I’m not saying the Cubs could have wrung out a better deal at the time, but I just knew that some smart mouth would point it out, so I’ll be that smart mouth.]