Being that it is only the first week of May, and the real heat of trade season – even the rumors – won’t really kick up until after the draft next month, “trade rumor” discussions will remain something of an abstraction right now. But we know that the Cubs are going to be competitive by midseason, and increasingly it looks like they’ll be in a closer NL Central race than anticipated, so trades are going to matter.
Where will the Cubs actually look to make upgrades? Well, assuredly you could already point to the starting rotation’s performance as a weak spot, but it’s far too early to say the Cubs clearly need to swap in Trade Target X for Current Rotation Member Y. Furthermore, so much can happen between now and late July that needs may change dramatically. Thankfully, whatever those needs, the Cubs will have trade chips available to make a significant opportunity presents itself.
In any case, a question worth asking now before we even get into all of that is just how aggressive are the Cubs going to be now that they’ve won it all? Surely, you could understand if the organization felt a little extra incentive to push in trades last year, knowing that it was their best chance to FINALLY do the thing. Leave nothing on the field, and all that. So they identified Aroldis Chapman as a particular target who could help them not only the reach the postseason, but lock down the late innings once there, and they paid a steep price to acquire him.
Having won it, though, maybe they wouldn’t quite make the same kind of tip-top-prospect-for-rental trade this summer?
Come come, now. From a front office that has preached “every season is sacred” from day one, you don’t really expect that they’ll pull punches, do you? After all, winning the organization’s first title in 108 years is profoundly special, but it’s not as if winning back-to-back championships is not also uniquely delightful.
“I don’t think the urgency changes,” general manager Jed Hoyer told CSN of this year versus last year. “The goal is to win every year …. You can’t get in a cycle where you’re always doing something for rentals. But at the same time, every season is sacred and you only have (so many chances). There are going to be years where things don’t come together, you have injuries, another team runs away with it. That’s going to happen. So when you know you’re in a good position, (go for it).”
In other words, whatever the outside circumstances, if you have a team that you genuinely believe can be in playoff contention come October, you make reasonable moves necessary to support that team. That will be the case for the Cubs again this summer.
Hoyer went on to concede to CSN that the 2016 team dictated aggressiveness in the trade market, but it wasn’t so much the 108 years thing as the fact that the team was so very good, with one obvious area that needed addressing (back end of the bullpen).
Whether this year’s team is clearly in the same spot – again, perhaps with respect to the rotation – by midseason, we will have to wait to see. Hopefully the Cubs, by their play, cement their playoff positioning by then, and don’t even have any obvious needs. But if they do, the front office will be ready to act.