There are a number of reasons why Chicago Cubs third baseman Patrick Wisdom is not typically included among the possible trade candidates for the team before the August 2 Trade Deadline. He’s a later breakout guy, he doesn’t have the long track record of consistent success that a buyer might want, the bat is very boom or bust, his defense has taken a big step back by the metrics this year, and he’s under team control for another four and a half seasons. He doesn’t immediately fit the mold of a player a seller is looking to move at the deadline, or that a buyer is eager to acquire.
But MLB Trade Rumors put together a piece challenging some of that thinking, and suggesting that now might be the time for the Cubs to try to move Wisdom.
There are a number of contenders that could stand to make an upgrade at third base and/or at DH, and Wisdom (.220/.316/.441/111 wRC+ this year, 115 wRC+ last year) could be that upgrade. It’s not like the only Trade Deadline upgrades come by way of rentals or guys getting really close to free agency.
But why would the Cubs trade Wisdom right now?
For MLBTR, the decision to trade Wisdom comes down to the period of time when the Cubs next expect to be competitive (for MLBTR, it’s 2024+), as compared to Wisdom’s age (his best remaining years, if he follows a traditional aging curve, are sooner rather than later). That’s sensible, though I might argue the Cubs are actually going to try, very hard, to compete in 2023. Not only are the turnstiles slowing rapidly, but season ticket renewals are facing pressure and the ratings on Marquee cannot possibly be strong. Moreover, thanks to the new CBA, the Cubs won’t be able to qualify for the draft lottery after 2023 anyway. Tanking next year will be of very limited benefit.
All of which is not to say I don’t see some reason to consider moving Wisdom now if a good offer came along.
Had I to make the argument for trading Wisdom now, it would probably look something more like this …
Because Wisdom, although 30, is still a year and a half away from arbitration, that means his theoretically most productive years are also going to be his least expensive. That means he would be more valuable to a much wider range of potential suitors – market size not being an issue – and that particular component of his value is inarguably as high as it will ever be. In other words, I don’t really see Wisdom’s age as the primary factor here pushing for a trade – I think it’s his salary in relation to his age.
As for the competitiveness factor, I’m not sure I see Wisdom’s presence or absence being a hinge point.
For example, even if the Cubs are aiming to compete in 2023, that’s very likely going to mean adding a big bat from the shortstop free agent pool. With Nico Hoerner in tow already, it’s possible that the “big shortstop bat” would actually become a “big other infield position bat.” Maybe that means second base, or maybe it means third base, especially if Christopher Morel winds up playing more infield next year (and/or if Nick Madrigal ever returns to form).
In other words, there’s a version of competing in 2023 where Wisdom gets squeezed out anyway. So if you could get meaningful value for him now, it might be worth taking it, since it may not negatively impact 2023 anyway.
Don’t get me wrong. The Cubs could still find utility in Wisdom at his salary and with his power – part-time at third, first, and in the outfield? – but I don’t think the Cubs’ competitive timeline would be a reason to, or to not, trade Patrick Wisdom right now.
I think this is all worth a conversation with clubs if they want to have it. While I don’t know that Wisdom has impact-prospect-level trade value out there, I would think he has at least some to the right suitor. And if trading Wisdom right now maximizes his value and does not materially damage the Cubs’ chances of competing in 2023 one way or the other, I don’t really see a reason not to explore it.
Odds are, Wisdom is not traded. That’s fine, too, given that potential utility he could have for the Cubs in 2023 no matter how they remake the roster. But maybe he should be on those mental lists we have about which players the Cubs could trade.