5 Top Prospects That the Chicago Cubs Can Trade
Despite not fielding a winning team since 2009, Chicago Cubs fans are excited about their team's future. Most of this excitement comes not from the play at the major league level but rather from the wealth of talent throughout the Cubs minor league system, topped off with two of the top 10 prospects in all of baseball.
The team has deep talent at each position, especially in the infield, giving the Cubs some leeway as to which prospects could be traded to boost the franchise even more.
The Cubs have quite a few middle infielders who could play either second base or shortstop, most notably Starlin Castro, Javier Baez, Arismendy Alcantara or Addison Russell. While Castro is already signed to a long-term deal and Alcantara has played a solid amount of outfield at the major league level, the team has some versatility to work with.
The Cubs also have decisions to may at third base. Though Kris Bryant is looking to be the third baseman of the future, they still have some other options to work with should anything happen to Bryant.
Here are five of the team's top prospects that the Cubs could trade.
All statistics courtesy of MLB.com.
Addison Russell, SS
Addison Russell was a key acquisition in the Cubs' trade that sent pitchers Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel to the Oakland Athletics shortly before the 2014 trade deadline. He has played with the Mesa Solar Sox of the Arizona Fall League in October. Though he got off to a slow start in the AFL, Russell cranked his first home run on October 21.
On October 23, the Cubs announced that Russell would be shut down for the rest of the season. While he is considered "perfectly healthy," the Cubs said that he needs to be rested after a long, full season. Russell ended his year on a high note, hitting a home run in his final at-bat.
Russell has played second base in the AFL, but it's unclear where he will be in the future. Javier Baez is projected to start at second base on Opening Day 2015 with Starlin Castro starting at shortstop. Should something happen to either of them, Russell would be the next man up. However, he could also be a solid trade piece.
Dan Vogelbach, 1B
Dan Vogelbach is another big-name prospect playing the Arizona Fall League. Ranked as the No. 4 overall first base prospect, Vogelbach is in a tough situation in Chicago. The Cubs have Anthony Rizzo signed through the 2021 season, making it very unlikely that Vogelbach would be occupying first base at Wrigley Field.
MLB.com's scouting report of Vogelbach mentions that "scouts doubt he will ever be even an average defender." He also needs to watch his weight, as he is currently listed at 250 lbs.
Vogelbach could be a great trade piece to an American League team to use him as a designated hitter. His bat is what truly makes him appealing, and he cranked 16 home runs at High-A Daytona.
Like Russell, Vogelbach started off slow in the AFL but has started to hit the ball better.
Jeimer Candelario, 3B
Jeimer Candelario is yet another talented third baseman making his way through the Cubs minor league ranks. Though he is yet to reach Double-A, Candelario has shown a lot of potential in his short minor league career.
However, he has also struggled at times. After hitting just .193 at High-A Daytona, Candelario was transferred to Single-A Kane County, where he improved a bit to .250.
Candelario is another player in a tough position as a result of the Cubs' solid infield potential. The team has No. 3 overall prospect Kris Bryant, who was named the Minor League Player of the Year. Bryant will likely reach the major leagues in 2015 and could even make the Cubs Opening Day roster.
Though the Cubs may not get much for Candelario now as a result of his struggles, he may have some value if he shows some improvement in spring training or early 2015.
Mike Olt, 3B
Mike Olt is another third base prospect who struggled at times. Despite hitting .303 at Triple-A, Olt is hitting only .159 in the major leagues in 105 career games. He has battled vision issues throughout his career, which may or may not be a factor that has contributed to his struggles at the game's highest level.
Like Candelario, Olt may not have much value at the moment as a result of his struggles, so the Cubs would probably be better off giving him some time to improve so as to truly get the most value out of him.
It was recently reported that the Cubs would try Olt out in the outfield, showing that the team hasn't entirely given up on him. Though it may improve his defense, which struggled at times, it may not help his unimpressive offense.
However, it may at least be in his benefit on defense. In 52 games at third base in 2013, Olt committed seven errors and posted an unimpressive .929 fielding percentage.
Christian Villanueva, 3B
Yes, here we have yet another third baseman who has struggled and been demoted.
Villanueva struggled at Triple-A Iowa, hitting just .211. He was sent back to Double-A Tennessee, where he improved his average to .248 in 62 games.
The same said for Olt and Candelario could apply to Villanueva, who would need to improve his game before teams look to add him in a possible trade.
Unfortunately, Villanueva has struggled in his three spring trainings, hitting just .177 in 32 games.
It's highly unlikely that the Cubs rid themselves of all three prospects, as they would need a backup plan should Kris Bryant switch positions or not turn out how the Cubs hope. However, all three players are a possible trade chip given their confidence in Kris Bryant at third base.