At first, I was thrown off by the headline of this ESPN piece on tradable Cubs youngsters: “Should the Cubs put Javier Baez (or another young star) on the trade block?”
If you were also thrown off by the implication that the Cubs should be looking to trade any of their young players, let along Javy Baez, specifically, I don’t blame you. But the piece is worth your time for what’s actually in there, which is more about questions of trade value, rather than an active pursuit of trading away a guy like Baez.
In the article, Jesse Rogers speaks with a number of anonymous executives about the perceived trade value of various Cubs players, and most seemed to think that Baez had the most value overall among a group that included Baez, Kyle Schwarber, and Ian Happ (hence the title of the article). Schwarber appears to be considered close in value, and might even have more value to some AL teams.
With a less-established track record and more defensive questions than with Baez, it’s understandable that Happ’s perceived trade value, right now, would not be as high.
It’s an interesting read to get the outside perspectives on value, though it’s important to note that this all might be entirely academic. With Ben Zobrist increasingly returning to a super utility role, that second base job will soon be totally available for the taking. And with both Baez and Happ able to play multiple positions, it’s not as if the Cubs will definitely not be able to accommodate them over the coming years if they demonstrate continued big league ability.
As for Schwarber, given his unique situation and the Cubs’ believe in the upside in the bat, it’s almost impossible for me to imagine them seriously considering a trade at this point, even if a big arm were at the other end of it. If you’re a believer in the bat, then you are of the position that he could be an elite overall left fielder in the coming years. That’s tough to part with.
From my perspective, I’d probably peg the trade values the same way the executives seemed to, with Eloy Jimenez – were we to include him – anywhere from 1 to 4, depending on a particular trade partner’s confidence in the bat.
Rumors about trading for controlling pitching will continue to swirl around the Cubs (Chris Archer, Jeff Samardzija most recently), and the reality is that the front office will continue to stalk that market. So long as that continues, considerations about what young players and prospects can be moved will persist. If the Cubs take a big swing at a top arm, you can be sure that the loss will be painful, and some of it may come from the big league roster.
That’s the position the Cubs are in right now, with so much valuable positional talent, so many farm system questions on the pitching side, and a rotation with just two sure-fire starting pitchers under control after this season.