A Couple More Potential Cubs Trade Targets Emerge (You Know … If They Are Still Buyers)

I added the parenthetical in the headline to appease the non-believers, but in reality, I’m not so conflicted. If I had to put money on it, I would still bet the Cubs are buyers at the July 30, 2024 MLB Trade Deadline. Unless this becomes a TOTAL disaster from here, I don’t think Jed Hoyer has the nerve to sell in the first year of what’s supposed to be the definitely-post-rebuild era.

No, for now, I’m going to continue to operate as though the Cubs will be buyers, and that leaves two primary positions to address, at a minimum: catcher and closer.

And what do you know, two new names have already popped up, one of whom is familiar.

Potential Cubs Trade Targets: Kenley Jansen

According to USA Today, the Boston Red Sox “plan to trade All-Star veteran closer Kenley Jansen by the trade deadline. He’s earning $16M this year and the Red Sox have no interest in bringing him back.”

Jansen, you might recall, was a player I hoped the Cubs would target over the offseason, when the Red Sox first indicated a desire to slash some payroll and move on from Jansen, in particular, if the right deal came about. Obviously, they didn’t, and Jansen has gone on to save 9 out of 10 games so far this season, with a 3.08 ERA over 17.2 IP. The walk rate is way up there (13.3%), and that’s a concern, but the 30.7% strikeout rate and .188 AVG against are pretty strong.

There’s a little too much hard contact going on, but still, his .293 BABIP is actually above his career mark (.267) and the 2.40 FIP underscores a little more of the positivity.

Put simply, he’s not his best self, but he’s still been pretty good.

Also the Cubs have who, exactly, that’s obviously better than Jansen? Maybe Ben Brown, when he’s in the bullpen? Maybe Mark Leiter Jr., when he has his splitter available? You could play that game with a few others, but the point is Jansen would be a clear upgrade for the bullpen as a whole. So he’s an interesting guy to keep an eye on.

And don’t forget, the new baseball chief in Boston, Craig Breslow, just left the Cubs front office this past offseason. So there’s some familiarity there that could help facilitate a deal.

Kenley Jansen among the potential Cubs trade targets.
© Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

Potential Cubs Trade Targets: Elias Diaz

Over the weekend, I took a look at the Blue Jays rental catcher, Danny Jansen, as a potential fit for the Chicago Cubs, and he remains my primary target at the position.

But a lot of the arguments that make sense for Jansen apply more broadly to any rental catcher (except the fact that the Cubs are three games worse off in the standings then they were when I wrote this) …

The Chicago Cubs (27-24) are a competitive team this season, but could clearly use help offensively. The hard part is, when you look around the diamond, there’s not a lot of obvious places for upgrades, especially if Pete Crow-Armstrong gets promoted again, indirectly crowding the outfield, as well as first base and DH (by way of Cody Bellinger and Mike Tauchman/Ian Happ).

In fact, catcher is pretty much the only relatively easy position at which to add, so long as the player doesn’t block Amaya long-term…The Cubs also happen to have (arguably) the top farm system in baseball, with some positional crowding at the upper levels of the minors. So that’s means, motive, and opportunity.”

Teams are reportedly “keeping a close eye on Colorado Rockies catcher Elias Diaz, who is having his career-best season … (and is) a free agent after the season.”

So … Diaz? Well, Diaz is not the immediate-impact upgrade Jansen would be. He has a much weaker track record offensively, he’s four years older, his defensive metrics vary wildly from WELL above average to WELL below average, and even this “best offensive season” is just a 107 wRC+, because most of the production on this otherwise impressive slash line is happening in Colorado: .304/.349/.437.

But if he’s replacing all of Yan Gomes and some of Miguel Amaya’s starts, given what they’ve done so far this year, it’s tough to say he wouldn’t be an upgrade. He would be. It’s not the most exciting move, but it would be a lower-cost acquisition.

***

So to recap, here’s the group of potential Cubs trade targets to keep an eye on …

  • Kenley Jansen, RP (Red Sox)
  • Luis Garcia, RP (Angels)
  • Elias Diaz, C
  • Danny Jansen, C (Blue Jays)
  • written by

    Michael Cerami began covering the Chicago Cubs for Bleacher Nation as a part-time contributor in 2015. One year later, he joined Bleacher Nation full-time, covering the Chicago Cubs and Major League Baseball. Today, Michael runs Bleacher Nation, contributing as a writer (Cubs, MLB) and an editor for all sections of the site, including the Chicago Bears, Bulls, and Blackhawks, as well as MLB, NBA, NHL, and NFL. In 2019, Michael was the co-host of NBC Sports Chicago's Cubs Post-Game Show Outside the Ivy. You can find him on Twitter/X @Michael_Cerami

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