Fair warning—if you are a player on the Chicago Cubs who is not named Anthony Rizzo, you may very well get traded this season. Just ask Jeff Samardzija, Darwin Barney and Jason Hammel.
The Cubs clearly aren’t going to compete for a postseason berth down the stretch in 2014, and the playoffs in 2015 probably aren’t going to happen either. However, Chicago is loaded with young and talented prospects, including Kris Bryant, Addison Russell and Javier Baez, and counts Rizzo and Starlin Castro as potential franchise cornerstones.
Cubs fans may always say “wait ’til next year,” but for once it may just be true in the near future.
That is why Theo Epstein and Co. are dealing away veteran talent in 2014. The more prospects they can bring to Wrigleyville, the better the future looks. With that in mind, here is a look at the latest from the Windy City.
Bob Nightengale of USA Today filled fans in on the latest regarding Chicago’s potential pursuit of Tampa Bay Rays ace David Price:
If it seems like this sort of flies in the face of everything we discussed in the intro, that’s because it does. Yes, Price is one of the best pitchers in all of baseball, but the Cubs aren’t quite ready to compete yet. Buster Olney of ESPN shared the same sentiments:
Trading for Price now would make no sense for CHC. CHC not going to win '14, '15, and could sign FA like Lester w/out giving up prospects.— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) July 28, 2014
I think only way CHC trade for Price is if cost for him drops so precipitously in winter that they get a bargain, plus window to neg. a deal— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) July 28, 2014
Whom should the Cubs pursue?
The fact that Price is under contract for 2015 certainly makes this a possible avenue for the Cubs if they feel that they are going to compete sooner rather than later. Having a left-handed ace to anchor the rotation is an absolute luxury, but as Olney points out, the prospects are the key here.
Chicago is hoarding prospects with the hope that more fulfill their potential than don’t. Landing someone of Price’s caliber would not come cheap and may even cost the Cubs one member of their prized trio of Bryant, Russell and Baez.
Going all in on someone like Jon Lester seems like the smarter move at this point.
David Kaplan of CSN Chicago filled fans in on the latest regarding pitcher Jake Arrieta with a noteworthy quote:
This from a great source who is an NL scout. “We called Theo and asked about Jake Arietta and we were told they will NOT move him. Period."— David Kaplan (@thekapman) July 28, 2014
Arrieta has been a pleasant surprise for the North Siders this season and is sporting a sparkling 2.18 ERA to go along with a 5-2 record and impressive 1.01 WHIP. What’s more, his batting average against is just above the Mendoza Line at .201, and he is only 28 years old.
That means he still has another few years of his prime remaining, which could coincide nicely with a potential run at a division crown in 2016. Arrieta may not be a front-of-the-rotation ace, but he could be a solid No. 3 pitcher on a playoff team.
Perhaps one day that postseason team will finally be the Chicago Cubs again.
While the Yankees have looked into names like Josh Willingham, other clubs say they appear most focused this week on finding a right-handed hitting platoon partner in right field for Ichiro Suzuki, and one with no long-term salary commitments. So names like Chris Denorfia (Padres) and Justin Ruggiano (Cubs) are more likely than, say, Marlon Byrd or Alex Rios.
From a Chicago perspective, the name that jumps out is Justin Ruggiano. If Epstein could flip the 32-year-old journeyman for a prospect or two from the Yankees, it would be perfect for the Cubs.
Ruggiano doesn’t figure to be a part of any contending Chicago team within the next few years, but even a middle-of-the-road prospect could help the Cubs down the line. Ruggiano has impressed at times this season with a .296 batting average, but he isn’t in the Cubs’ long-term plans.
With all these prospects in place, winning may finally be part of those plans.
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