Even as the Cubs are assuredly considering trades for guys like Kris Bryant and Willson Contreras this offseason (maybe even “manically” doing so), it’s very difficult to imagine both of those two guys being traded in the same offseason, much less going in the same trade.
So, although I understand the instinct – when you’re tasked with coming up with a “blockbuster” involving the Cubs – to put them together in a deal, it’s not gonna happen. And even if you wanted to just have some fun and do it anyway, I think the otherwise bright David Schoenfield at ESPN badly missed the mark with this proposal:
Immediately, you’ll note that the Cubs are trading Kris Bryant *to the Reds.* You know, the team that is aggressively pushing toward the top of the NL Central for the next couple of years, while the Cubs are trying to thread the needle of staying competitive for those two years … in the NL Central. That, uh, is not going to happen.
Setting that issue aside, there’s the nature of the return for the Cubs, who are apparently now in a total rebuild?
In exchange for Bryant and Contreras, the Cubs pick up four quality pieces, sure, but they are …
- A 21-year-old lefty with 18.1 career minor league innings in rookie ball and A-ball (Lodolo).
- A 22-year-old righty who just had an extremely meh season at AA when he was repeating the level (Santillan).
- A 22-year-old third baseman who had just 16 games above AA before he was called up this year and didn’t hit (Toro).
- A 22-year-old righty who projects to be a stud, but who has thrown just 88.0 innings TOTAL at AA and AAA over the past three years COMBINED (Whitley).
It boggles the mind to think that the Cubs would have even the most remote interest in that kind of pure sell-off trade for future guys (only two of whom are truly top types). Yes, Whitley and Lodolo could be future stars, and yes they have huge value in trade, but would that really be the focus of a deal the Cubs would make right now for guys like Bryant and Contreras? I mean, at that point, might as well sell off absolutely anyone you don’t expect to be on the team in two years because this move crushes the Cubs’ competitive chances in 2020 and 2021 anyway. WHO’S READY FOR A REBUILD?!
… which, again, would be an absurd approach for a team with a competitive core and an aging rotation. The Cubs absolutely should aim to get some longer-term pieces to smooth the post-2021 transition. I’m all about it. Make some trades that ding you a little bit, but supplement in free agency. But this proposal is just pure sell-off, and that makes no sense for the Cubs, who can absolutely win in 2020 and 2021.
If the Cubs seriously entertain offers for Bryant and Contreras – separately – you can tentatively expect them to focus on packages that include pieces they can definitely use right away at the big league level (impact pitching is the obvious spot), even if they also include some younger/unestablished prospects.