The Rundown: My Scorching Takes on Who Cubs Will and Won’t Trade, More News and Notes

I’m painting myself into a corner with the definitive titular statement, but if I used softer words like “might” or “could,” I wouldn’t have drawn so many of the delicious clicks that sustain me and so many of my money-hungry blogging brethren and…sistren(?). But since I do believe there are a few prospects and current Cubs who the organization views as more expendable than others, I can bait the hook without being disingenuous.

You know, looking back at that, it doesn’t really convey my point. I mean, of course there are guys who are held in greater esteem than others. Here I am, doing that thing my wife tends to do where she speaks aloud the continuation of a thought that had previously been in her mind, expecting non-verbal nuance and our telepathic bond to offer the context that her words did not. Which is to say that I expected you to get my point before I’d actually led you there.

I’m talking about those prospects and players who have real value and who are at least within the realm of consideration when it comes to trades. So Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo aren’t a part of the discussion at all. Nor is Jason Heyward, whose contract makes him impossible to move without eating a ton of money. That still leaves us with a very long list, so I’ll stick with some of the names who have the most cachet.

Again, this is all about the massive revenue we generate through dozens of clicks, so I need to be as salacious as possible and throw out something like saying that I heard a rumor about Ian Happ going to Baltimore for Ubaldo Jimenez. Which is something I saw on the interwebs. Kids, making up trade rumors is bad, mmkay? But for God’s sake, if you’re going to slog through that seedy cesspool, at least make it something someone might believe.

I mean, Jim Bowden saying something about the Cubs dangling Kyle Schwarber in return for Michael Fulmer bears at least the possibility of sneaking through a few less stringent BS meters. Thing is, prying loose a top-end starter with five more years of club control would take much more than just War Bear. And since we’re there already, let’s discuss Schwarber a little more before getting to the others

The Cubs aren’t trading him for anything short of a massive deal. Remember when they backed away from the Yankees when told Schwarber had to headline an Andrew Miller trade, after which they gave up Gleyber Torres-plus for a few months of Aroldis Chapman? And that’s when their slugger was still on the shelf following knee reconstruction. You can believe all you want that his numbers won’t be great or that he can play the field (which Joe Sheehan will be glad to encourage), but none of that matters.

It doesn’t matter what you think of Schwarber or what you think the Cubs should think of Schwarber. What matters is what the Cubs actually think about him, and they love the dude. He ain’t moving.

Though I believe they’re less intractable when it comes to Eloy Jimenez, his literal light-tower power and the fact that he has an advanced plate approach at such a young age make him an unlikely candidate to be moved.

“I don’t think they’re poised to give up Eloy Jimenez at this point,” Jeff Passan told Matt Spiegel and Laurence Holmes on 670 The Score Monday.

In his duties as a sideline reporter, FOX’s Ken Rosenthal mentioned during Saturday’s national broadcast that the Cubs could be looking to move one of their plethora of young position players, which naturally spurred speculation.

Addison Russell, embroiled in domestic violence allegations and saddled with sagging production that may or may not be due to a trick shoulder, isn’t going anywhere. The sad truth is that the latter issue looms larger than the DV stuff when it comes to his value, but the fact is that the Cubs would have to sell very low on him were they to choose to move him. Which they won’t.

Same for Jake Arrieta, whose erratic performance and expiring contract make him nigh untradeable. You might think it’s better to get anything at all for him rather than watch him walk for free at season’s end, but that doesn’t fit the Cubs’ thought process. They fully believe they can put it together in the second half, so the possibility of Arrieta doing the same and anchoring a stretch run is more valuable than the ancillary — and probably not sure things — assets he’d net at this point.

Ian Happ, on the other hand, might still be expendable in the right deal. He’s a jack of all trades and master of none, a player who needs to be in a lineup that has underperformed thus far but who could net a nice return while also clearing some of the positional glut Joe Maddon is dealing with.

Or they could move Albert Almora Jr., who may be a platoon centerfielder if he can’t improve against righties. With Heyward locked up and more than capable of manning center, especially if Jimenez stays in the picture, Almora could net more in return than he provides as a bench bat.

That really leaves only Javy Baez, who is essentially the other side of Happ’s coin. Both offer plenty of redundancy and potential, setting them up as heirs apparent to Ben Zobrist’s role. Baez has the superior glove and could a better hitter if he can ever truly escape that big-swing temptation. If forced to choose one over the other, I believe the Cubs would keep Javy.

While they’ve got plenty of depth in the minors, the Cubs don’t necessarily have a wealth of the kind of impact talent that makes you stand up and take notice. Unless you consider some of the pitchers making their way up through the lower levels of the organization. Jose Albertos (who just made his first Eugene start), Dylan Cease (whose youth projects well), Thomas Hatch (Cubs MiLB pitcher of the month for June), and Adbert Alzolay (recently promoted to AA) represent the upper echelon of the kind of pipeline of homegrown arms the Cubs have only dreamed about to this point.

But the very nature of the promise that sees them ranked as top prospects in the system also makes them volatile. And not just these particular pitchers, but any young hurlers. So as nice as it is to imagine a rotation stocked with controllable flame-throwers, the Cubs could see an opportunity to flip some of these guys before they flame out. Not that they will, but they could. And that, my friends, is what they call the rub.

I could very much see this team standing pat and I could very much see them making a pretty big deal or two. I could see them doing any number of smaller deals. It’s all up in the air at this point, but I figured I’d at least regurgitate my thoughts on some of the players who might end up being involved.

More news and notes

  • Even with only one player on the NL roster, the Cubs managed to Cub up the All-Star Game when Wade Davis allowed a go-ahead HR in the 10th
  • Several reports have Jose Quintana leaving town soon and Passan says the Brewers are his favorites to land the lefty
  • Rob Manfred again said the baseballs aren’t juiced, then proceeded to give reason to believe they are
    • The commissioner said they’re exploring the possibility of juiced bats, which, yeah
    • He also mentioned that the balls are within the amorphous specs that are not at all indicative of uniformity in the first place
  • Manfred also lamented the usage of the 10-day DL, which he said he had not foreseen
    • If he’s really this dense, he needs to be fired for gross incompetence
    • Of course teams were going to manipulate the rosters with a shortened window
    • I understand that he’s got to spin things a certain way, but it’s insulting everyone’s intelligence to play dumb and spew falsehoods and expect people to buy it
  • Japanese phenom Shohei Otani is scheduled to pitch today, which would be his first start of the season
  • Madison Bumgarner threw 6 innings at high-A and could return to the Giants after the break
  • Noah Syndergaard and Jeurys Familia are nearing returns as well
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