Prospect-Huggers Beware, Cubs Will Move a Few of Your Favorites in Trades

It’s trade season, which means that every site from A to Z is going to be putting together various assailable trade proposals for various available players. And with the Red Sox getting out in front and providing a heaping helping of metaphorical fiber in the form of Thursday’s trade for Padre lefty Drew Pomeranz, expect to see a whole lot of sh…interesting trade proposals flying around. It’s also the time to remind you to look closely at the sources of any deals you see reported, as there will be lots of parody accounts looking to get your goat.

With that in mind, I wanted to take a look at some more realistic scenarios for the Cubs as the deadline rapidly approaches. In particular, that means examining some of the prospects most likely to be dealt in order to acquire the type(s) of piece(s) the Cubs really covet. I can’t restate strongly enough the concept that will be at the core of any dealings the Cubs consummate, which is that they’re not going to mortgage the next two, three, four years in order to improve over the next four months.

That might sound strange to those who’ve been waiting entire lifetimes for a shot like the one the Cubs appear to have right now, but baseball is anything but guaranteed. If a single player, or even a pair or trio of them, could guarantee a World Series title, I’d be willing to bet the farm that Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer would go to great lengths to acquire him/them. Thing is, that’s just not the case. There are far too many moving parts to handicap future competitiveness for the sake of a few more points of probability this year.

Ah, but that doesn’t mean they’re not going to be willing to deal from the redundant wealth they’ve spent the last several years developing throughout the system. The end result all comes down to value and whether a given player provides more to the organization through personal contribution or trade return. It’s a simple equation, really, and one the front office may have to work through with increasing frequency in the near future.

That might come as bad news to the prospect-huggers whose ranks have swelled over the past several season. Not only had years of futility shifted focus from the major league product, but the conveyer belt coming from the minors kept returning precious gems for Wrigley’s diamond. At some point, though, the jewel case gets filled up and there’s no way to stuff more in without actually devaluing the whole thing.

As such, I wanted to look at a few of the players who could be finding themselves heading elsewhere in the next two weeks.

Ian Happ

Like Kris Bryant and Kyle Schwarber before him, the Cubs drafted Happ as a polished college bat who could play multiple positions and was likely to advance quickly through the system. Now only 13 months or so removed from his draft date, Happ is tearing it up at AA Tennessee. Well, if you consider a .393 average in two weeks to be tearing it up.

He looks for all the world like the kind of guy who revels in stronger competition and who will be able to succeed at the next couple of stops along the way. He also looks like a 2B/OF, which the Cubs kinda already kinda have. Regardless of Happ’s potential, this is a bird-in-hand situation. And with a couple birds already in hand, Happ could net more value and get a better shot at the Bigs in a trade.

Gleyber Torres

This kid is a beast and he is viewed by many as the top prospect in the system, which probably makes you question his inclusion here. But there’s this kid named Addison Russell who just had his name announced as the NL’s starting shortstop (deserved or not) in the All-Star game.

It’d have to be a hell of a return to get the Cubs to part with Torres, but he’s not necessarily the kind of unicorn who’s immovable. There are so many uncertainties when it comes to player development that betting too heavily on an A-level player can get dicey.

Billy McKinney

The other half of the Addison Russell trade (who’s Dan Straily?), McKinney had his development slowed by a broken kneecap. Perhaps “slowed” is a bit much, as he looks to be doing just fine at AA. Still, he just doesn’t strike me as a difference-maker in the outfield. A solid piece, sure, but not a player who is going to elevate the team significantly.

I do believe McKinney could be a contributor to some very good teams in the future, he’s just far from indispensable.

Dan Vogelbach

This pretty much goes without saying, right? Dude’s been named in every trade proposal over the last few years due to him being a first baseman. Vogelbach can rake and could probably be suiting up as 1B/DH in the majors right now for another team.

Despite looking like an obvious surplus piece, the Cubs still aren’t going to sell low. If they can’t get the right return, Vogelbach could see time as a DH down the stretch.

Jeimer Candelario

An unexpected promotion recently, the Candyman began the season in AA but was moved a little more quickly after Christian Villanueva’s early injury. Third base isn’t necessarily a position of need for this team, making Candelario a potential trade piece.

Ian Rice

Catchers are notoriously difficult to develop, so moving one isn’t always an easy decision. If, however, Joe Maddon and the brass believe Willson Contreras can really be The Man next season and beyond, Rice might look nice to another team. He’s only in low-A South Bend now, though, so there’s plenty of time to see what he can become.

Victor Caratini

See above, mostly. Caratini came over from Braves in exchange for James Russell and Emilio Bonifacio, so the Cubs are basically playing with house money here. He’s also a switch-hitter, which provides some nice value. Not a centerpiece, but a very nice sweetener to a deal.

Eloy Jimenez

Dude’s 6-4, 205 at only 19 years old and he just rocked the Futures Game after torching low-A competition at South Bend in the first half. I don’t know if it’s fair to call his potential limitless, but Jimenez could be approaching unicorn status. There’s no way he’s moved for anything short of a monster return, which is to say he isn’t going to be moved.

The rest

There are myriad more names out there and it’s likely several of them will be involved of moves really go down. I wanted to focus on some of the rising stars and those players who could anchor or be be big ancillary pieces to potential transactions though. That’s also why you’re not seeing Jorge Soler, who I’m not really high on at all, mentioned. You’re not seeing Javy Baez or Kyle Scwarber because they’re not going anywhere, which I hope you already know.

Trade proposals

Nope, not here. Too much of a chance to whiff completely and look like an even bigger fool than I already do.

As for targets, you probably know them all. Andrew Miller, Aroldis Chapman, Sean Doolittle, Josh Reddick, Julio Teheran, maybe Jeremy Jeffress, and a bunch of other guys I’ve forgotten to mention since I’m writing this on my phone.

I’d like to leave you with one last thought here, which is that potential moves like these aren’t just best for the Cubs. It all falls in with the whole “if you love something, set it free” concept in a way. What I’m trying to say is that it’s really a disservice to some of these young men to keep them in a system that could delay or even outright deny their ability to advance. Not only could the Cubs fill some holes, but they’d be giving some farmhands a quicker, clearer path to achieving their dreams.

You know, I probably should have cut out everything about the individual players and just gone with that last paragraph. Oh well, live and learn.

Now bring on the tradez.

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