Zach McKinstry Has Been a “Popular Name” When Other Teams Call the Cubs

With the Cubs arguably overcrowded in complementary types in the infield, the bulk of discussion on how to unwind that has come in the form of Nick Madrigal trade speculation. Secondarily, I will keep mentioning that the availability of minor league options for guys like Madrigal, Miles Mastrobuoni, and Christopher Morel means that they – and others – don’t all HAVE TO make the Opening Day roster.

A third approach, though, would involve trading someone other than Madrigal, and it could be the one guy in the mix who doesn’t have any minor league options remaining: Zach McKinstry.

According to Sahadev Sharma, McKinstry has been a “popular name when other teams call the Cubs regarding trade possibilities.”

At first blush, you might think it odd for McKinstry to be a popular trade target, but consider his core value: he can pretty much do anything, and he can do it for a pre-arbitration salary.

Not only does he play all over the field reasonably well, he bats lefty, has some power, and is a good baserunner. It took him a while to get his footing with the Cubs after the trade, but by the end of the year, he had the look of what he is: a league-average bat (at least against righties), who does all those things that make him a very useful bench guy.

We know that the Cubs are predisposed to liking McKinstry, given that they targeted him from the Dodgers at the Trade Deadline for Chris Martin. It was clear they believed he could settle in as a nice big league bench option if he just got the playing time, because they knew he was out of minor league options when they acquired him.

The lack of options, by the way, is the main thing working against McKinstry, and why the Cubs might consider dealing him for a modest return (you couldn’t expect to get a significant prospect or impact big leaguer).

To be sure, just because teams are asking about McKinstry doesn’t mean the Cubs are going to be trading him. But I do think there is a more than decent chance someone from the positional group is dealt by the end of Spring Training, and the fact that McKinstry cannot be optioned to the minors means that if there’s even a chance that he’s going to be the odd many out come the end of March, the Cubs might be happy to entertain trade offers.

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Brett Taylor is the Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and on LinkedIn here. Brett is also the founder of Bleacher Nation, which opened up shop in 2008 as an independent blog about the Chicago Cubs. Later growing to incorporate coverage of other Chicago sports, Bleacher Nation is now one of the largest regional sports blogs on the web.

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