This morning I was wondering about whether the trade market this year is remarkably thin – certainly, it seems that way based on the lack of rumors – and that made this piece at MLB.com all the more interesting to peruse. It’s a list of 13 change-of-scenery candidates that Anthony Castrovince put together, and you always wonder about who might fit with the Cubs.
Old friends Nick Castellanos and Gleyber Torres are among the listed names, but I don’t see Castellanos actually being moved, and I don’t see the Cubs shelling out a lot in prospect currency to bring in yet another second baseman in Torres.
Instead, a guy who jumps out at me is Red Sox center fielder Jarren Duran, who has a lefty bat and great speed. Duran, 26, is coming off back-to-back disappointing attempts at sticking in the big leagues. If the Cubs can’t go some other route in center field, he might be an interesting post-hype guy to give a shot. It was just a year ago that Duran was seen as a top 100 prospect. The only possible hangup is that he rated pretty poorly in center field this past year, which might be a blip, or it could be that the position just isn’t for him. Obviously he becomes a lot less interesting to the Cubs in this moment in time if he can’t really play center field.
Oft-mentioned fellow post-hype center fielder Victor Robles is included in the list, too, though he’s got a righty bat and has been abysmal for three straight seasons at the plate (.216/.291/.306/66 wRC+). If the Nationals were straight up giving him away, OK, yeah, maybe you see if something clicks in a new organization. But would he even justify the runway to give him a CHANCE to turn it around?
And then there’s the ULTIMATE post-hype outfielder in Jo Adell, who is still only 23, but just can’t seem to get over the hump with the Angels, despite his prodigious talent and prior prospect rankings. I’m not sure he can really handle center field, though, so the fit is tricky with the Cubs. But yeah, it’d be fun to be the first non-Angels organization to get a chance at getting him back on track.
Lots more names discussed in Castrovince’s piece. Like I said, it’s just kind of fun to read and think about.
In conclusion, I should note another old friend getting a mention after just one season with the Tigers:
The Tigers made Báez their darling of the offseason last year with a six-year, $140 million deal, and he – like the team itself – turned out to be a massive disappointment. All of the concerns about Báez’s free-swinging ways played out to the extreme when he slashed .238/.278/.393 with one of the league’s worst walk rates (4.4%). The Tigers are far more likely to just root for a bounce back in 2023, but Báez is worth including here just in case some creativity on the part of new general manager Scott Harris comes into play and Báez is shipped elsewhere. We did see a stretch at the end of 2021 in which he was dealt to the Mets and was briefly at his best, so maybe another move would motivate him.
It would be kind of incredible if the Cubs, after letting Báez walk to a deal much better than they would’ve paid, could get him back on a lesser deal. The Tigers would assuredly have to eat a big chunk of that contract to move Báez, and hey, who is to say he wouldn’t be better back with the Cubs? Also, after settling in – those huge-contract-change-of-team situations can be a challenge because of the pressure – Báez was at least decent from June on (.264/.302/.448/112 wRC+).
I’m mostly just having fun there, and why not? It is El Mago’s birthday, after all: