This morning, Michael mentioned a wide-ranging Ken Rosenthal article, teeing up the “ten most intriguing questions” of the upcoming July 30 Trade Deadline. A good read all around, setting up a number of storylines that might not impact the Cubs at all, but are nevertheless interesting.
But Rosenthal did mention the Cubs, specifically, with an interesting question:
What is the over-under on the number of Cubs traded?
I’m setting it at five — outfielder Joc Pederson already is gone, and no one should be surprised if closer Craig Kimbrel, infielder-outfielder Kris Bryant, right-hander Zach Davies and left-handed reliever Andrew Chafin also depart. All but Kimbrel are on expiring contracts; Kimbrel’s deal includes a $16 million club option for 2022.
In the absence of context, a suggestion that a team would pull off FIVE July trades, much less the SIX required to hit the ‘over’, would be downright zany. At the height of the rebuild, the Cubs made three selling trades in July 2012, five in July in 2013 (and that’s counting the two they made all the way back on July 2), and three in July in 2014. To be sure, those years came with an August waiver trade period so you didn’t HAVE to move everyone in July*, but still. You can see how five sell trades in late July is an enormous number of trades.
Ah, but Rosenthal didn’t say number of trades! He said number of Cubs traded! And that’s where you do see parallels to the rebuild years. In 2012, it was four big league players traded away in those three trades. In 2013, it was six players in those five trades. In 2014, it was five players in those three trades. So, then, you can actually see how an over-under of five players traded is pretty on par with years past.
So my question, then, is whether five players sounds right as the over-under, and could the Cubs even get to five TRADES in the month? Kinda hard to speculate on the final one, because we don’t know whether players will be packaged. So I guess that question is more just about having some fun.
On the player side of things, Pederson is already one. I would be very surprised if Kimbrel, Davies, and Chafin were NOT traded, and I’ll add that another reliever – could be a controlled guy, or a short-term guy – is basically a lock to be traded (both because of the need out there, and because the Cubs are going to want to clear the decks a bit in the bullpen). So I’m basically at five already, and that’s before you get to the Bryant/Rizzo/Báez trio, of whom Bryant does seem very plausible to be traded. Then you have complementary types that contenders should want to add as depth – Jake Marisnick is a perfect example, though Rafael Ortega has been sneaky good against righties (.271/.328/.441, 110 wRC+) while playing all over the outfield.
You could also have the surprising guys that you just don’t see getting moved, and then poof, they do. You can see the full Buyer’s Guide to the Cubs to run through all the names.
So if it’s me, and you’re asking over-under five Cubs players traded this month, including Pederson? Yeah, I’m taking the over. And I kinda can’t believe it, except when I go over the names and the market, I then do believe it. It might even come in the form of five or more individual trades. That would certainly be wild to follow.
*Note: there is no longer a waiver trade period in August. That means, all those extra pieces you hope to pick up to round out your roster – bench depth, injury coverage, etc. – must be picked up now. There is no waiting for another day.