The Chicago Cubs may be the most contacted team this trade season, given their clear standing as a seller and their collection of actually-quite-useful trade candidates.
But if they’re being contacted, the Cubs aren’t yet telling teams exactly what they’ll need to get a deal done:
Other teams continue to say the Cubs haven’t yet set firm asking prices for their big names yet, but the expectation is they will before the July 30 deadline. Kris Bryant/Mets a possible fit, Craig Kimbrel could help lots of teams, Rizzo fits BOS perfectly–1B, LH, great defense.
— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) July 22, 2021
Set aside the specifics for a moment, and be reminded: even where the Cubs might want to set firm asking prices and move more quickly, they cannot control the rest of the market. So if you’re determined to make a deal for X Player today, you better be comfortable knowing you might not get the best price. Not only might there be potential buyers who aren’t ready to make an offer yet because they don’t know if they’ll ultimately be buying or selling, but there are definite buyers who might not be ready to make their best offer yet, because they don’t know who else might come onto the market! When there is a deadline looming in a marketplace of 30 teams and hundreds of players, you don’t always get to move on your own schedule.
What this means, as a practical matter, is that it’s unlikely the Cubs are in advanced stages of trade talks on, for example, Kris Bryant (so extrapolate from there what it means that the Cubs are being cautious about his hamstring). It further means that the Cubs are in listening and waiting mode, ready to jump on a deal only where it’s obvious to them that it very likely won’t get better in a week. A dangerous game to play, even if understandable. It is a clear seller’s market at the moment, though who knows if it still looks that way come July 29-30.
That said, for some of their pieces, the Cubs could soon start setting timelines, especially if they don’t want to be stuck in a situation trying to coordinate five different trades all on the same day or two. From a market perspective, that’s hard enough, but when you throw in the human logistics of it – there’s only one Jed Hoyer, for example (and he doesn’t even have a GM right now) – it becomes all the more challenging.
As for the specifics Olney mentions, you’re so accustomed to the Bryant and Kimbrel stuff that you barely noticed. It was the line about Anthony Rizzo and the Red Sox that really stood out, no? That’s an awfully specific mention. I remain of the mind that the Cubs aren’t going to trade Rizzo (or Javy Báez) unless they get a very meaningful return, which I think is unlikely, and unless Rizzo indicates that he’d like a chance to compete with another team down the stretch. I think there’s still plenty of desire there, overall, to re-up with Rizzo after the season (an extension is unlikely at this point), so trading Rizzo for a pittance really serves no purpose.