5 Potential Deals Epstein and Hoyer Should Propose at Deadline
While the Cubs are still rebuilding, they need to garner some more top prospects. It appears they are a couple of pitchers away from having a truly complete farm system, and that's why president Theo Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer still need to make plenty of moves at the trade deadline this season. Once again, the Cubs figure to be sellers; a team that will send off its current talent for more potential future talent.
Based on past trade rumblings and situations that have developed this season, there are quite a few trades the Cubs could try to work out with teams from across the league. In the long run, these moves could help make or break the Cubs' current rebuilding effort.
RHP Jeff Samardzija to the Blue Jays
Blue Jays Get: RHP Jeff Samardzija
Cubs Get: RHP Aaron Sanchez
RHP Marcus Stroman
The Cubs have already reportedly made this trade offer in the past with the Blue Jays rejecting it, but the way Samardzija is pitching this season it could convince Toronto to reconsider the deal. Even though he's 0-3, the Cubs' ace holds on to a stellar 1.45 ERA this season and has been one of the most dominant pitchers in the game through six weeks of the season.
According to Toronto GM Alex Anthopoulos, the teams have not discussed a deal recently, but most teams don't engage in trade talks this early in the season anyway.
"It's so rare that teams engage in trade conversations so early. You might start in June... but generally speaking I doubt anyone's really engaged in trade talks."
Sanchez will turn 22 in July, but has already been turning heads in minor league baseball. He has started this season in Double-A and owns a 1-2 record with a 3.05 ERA. He began his minor league career by striking out hitters with the best of them, but his strikeout numbers have steadily declined. Regardless, he pitches to contact and has shown he may be ready to pitch in the major leagues within a year or two.
Stroman is the better of the two prospects as he's actually been called up by the Blue Jays already this season. The 23-year old has been pitching out of the bullpen and has appeared in three games, logging a 2.70 ERA to go along with his 1-0 record. Eventually, he will be moved to the rotation; the fact he's major league ready makes him a huge potential asset for the Cubs.
2B Darwin Barney to the Tigers
Tigers Get: 2B Darwin Barney
Cubs Get: RHP Jeff Thompson
This offseason, especially when Jose Iglesias was lost for the season, the Tigers were linked to Darwin Barney. The team was reportedly interested in trading for the middle infielder before deciding not to pull the trigger on a deal. He hasn't done much this season to prove he will turn his game around at the plate as he's batting just .127, but is still valuable for his stellar defense.
Thompson isn't the Tigers' most highly touted pitching prospect, but he's projectable as a future major league starter with his 6'6" frame and potential to develop three very solid pitches. With a couple years of seasoning in the Cubs' minor league system, Thompson could end up being a steal if this trade went down.
UTIL Emilio Bonifacio to the Royals
Royals Get: UTIL Emilio Bonifacio
Cubs Get: LHP Sean Manaea
It's strange to think the Royals could trade for the player they released just a few months ago, but at this point, it would seem to make sense. Any contending team, which the Royals hope to be down the stretch, needs outfield depth, and Bonifacio could provide that. He could actually provide infield depth as well, as he's capable of playing second base, third base and shortstop.
In Kansas City he could be used as a platoon guy in either the infield, outfield or both and as a pinch runner in late-game situations. Even though he's cooled down lately, the fact Bonifacio is batting .295 with 11 steals already must generate some interest. Given their familiarity with him, the Royals could be the first team to put a call in to Epstein and Hoyer.
Manaea fits the mold of the type of players the Cubs have liked maximizing value on since Epstein and Hoyer came over. He is coming off of hip surgery and saw a dip in his velocity as a result, but still projects to be a solid major league starter one day. Depending on how his recovery goes, he could be even better than initially expected.
RHP Jason Hammel to the Red Sox
Red Sox Get: RHP Jason Hammel
Cubs Get: LHP Drake Britton
RHP Simon Mercedes
Disappointing so far this year, it's likely the defending champion Boston Red Sox will need some help down the stretch this season. With a team ERA of 3.68, ranking 14th in MLB, Boston could use some pitching help in order to make a move in the standings.
Hammel has pitched extremely well for the Cubs this season and has generated even more trade value than the team likely initially thought it would get out of him. He's 4-1 with a 2.45 ERA and leads the Cubs in wins. A very telling stat this season is Hammel's WHIP is just 0.86, which is unheard of. Clearly, the righty is pitching some of the best ball of his career, and that bodes well for the Cubs in a trade.
Britton is a left-handed prospect with a lot of upside in Boston. He is major league ready as a bullpen arm right now and could prove to be a solid starter if given another year or so in the minors. He isn't anything flashy as he's in Boston's second tier of pitching prospects, but he would be a solid addition to the Cubs' relatively dry pitching talent well.
Mercedes is a power arm, which is what the Cubs are looking for. He's further away from the big leagues than Britton, but he also has much more upside. He can get up to 94 on the gun consistently, and that's good news for the Cubs. As long as Hammel keeps performing the way he has been, getting two pitchers of Britton and Mercedes' caliber isn't out of the question.
Outfielder Nate Schierholtz to the Nationals
Nationals Get: Outfielder Nate Schierholtz
Cubs Get: LHP Felipe Rivero
Schierholtz hasn't done the Cubs any favors this season in terms of upping his trade value as he's only batting .191 and is still without a home run. If he can get back on track, this deal is very possible, but if not, there's no way the Nationals pull the trigger on this deal. Obviously, the Cubs are hoping for the first scenario.
The Nationals could use some outfield depth, especially given the fact Bryce Harper has missed time due to separate DL stints in the past two seasons. Schierholtz could provide the depth they need in the outfield.
Rivero is a lefty who is thought to be a potential No. 3 or 4 starter in the big leagues. The Cubs would gladly take that as they already have Travis Wood and Jake Arrieta as two likely future pieces of the rotation. Adding Rivero to the mix would mean the club would only need to find two more starters (including an ace) to have a complete starting rotation in the future.