Could the Cubs Send Nick Madrigal Back to the White Sox in Trade?

I’d seen this idea floated by a number of fans – on both sides – but I’d yet to see it offered up as something that could be considered “a rumor.” Even as it stands, this is written in a relatively thin way, but the fact that it’s coming up at all suggests Bob Nightengale has heard a little something.

Here’s the report from USA Today:

The White Sox, who picked second baseman Nick Madrigal in the first round of the 2018 draft and traded him to the Cubs in 2021 for veteran closer Craig Kimbrel, now have a chance to get him back.

The Cubs no longer have room for Madrigal in the starting lineup after signing shortstop Dansby Swanson and shifting Nico Hoerner to second base, and guess who desperately needs a second baseman?

Yep, the White Sox.

I read that, which was included as part of a long notes column, as mostly speculative. But often in these situations, the speculation has been elbowed toward a writer by someone involved with one or both of the teams. That doesn’t mean trade talks are happening; it might mean only that one of the teams wouldn’t hate it if the other picked up the phone.

There is some logic to a Madrigal trade, as the White Sox have the need, the familiarity, and many of the same decision-makers who brought Madrigal in originally are still there. (Then again, those are the same decision-makers who willingly traded him away to the Cubs.)

As we’ve discussed before, the Cubs don’t *have to* trade Nick Madrigal, but his role on the 2023 big league team is pretty opaque, or limited, right now. So if there was value to be had in trade, I’m sure the Cubs would listen.

How much value is there, though? To be sure, there must have been quite a bit when Madrigal, together with Codi Heuer, was traded to the Cubs mid-2021 for a season and a half of Craig Kimbrel, then the most effective reliever available at the Trade Deadline. But since then, all we’ve seen of Madrigal is a guy who dealt with additional injury issues as he tried to come back from the serious hamstring injury that ended his 2021 season, and who really struggled at the plate in 2022 (outside of a single month late in the year). I just don’t think you’re getting a significant return for Madrigal at the moment, even if the White Sox were desperate.

What could you get? An interesting but very young non-40-man-roster prospect, maybe. A useful 40-man-roster type who is getting close to being out of options, probably. A decent arbitration-level reliever, if you wanted another. Throw in some IFA bonus pool money?

I tend to follow anything about Madrigal pretty closely because a trade is extremely realistic (in terms of the Cubs being obviously willing to move him). This is important stuff to discuss, from where I sit.

But I always wind up coming back to the same place that I’m not so sure his value in trade right now is worth more than the Cubs just hanging onto him and seeing how things shake out in the first half. Maybe Madrigal, 25, winds up a quality depth piece who then becomes necessary due to injury (and breaks back out). Maybe Madrigal heads to Iowa, rakes, and then re-emerges at some point. There might be more value there for the Cubs, even in a greatly reduced role, than what he could get in the trade market as a guy whose profile always came with questions, and who now hasn’t really hit in the big leagues in a year and a half.

written by

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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