Potential Trade Targets for Chicago Cubs at MLB Winter Meetings

Jacob Kornhauser@@KornSportsCorrespondent IIIDecember 5, 2014

Potential Trade Targets for Chicago Cubs at MLB Winter Meetings

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    While the Chicago Cubs are still trying to make key signings on the free-agent market, when the front office makes its way to the MLB winter meetings Monday, it will also be looking to make some trades. The Cubs have already been linked to several deals this offseason and could be interested in several more.

    With an infield surplus, the team figures to find at least one of its talented young infielders expendable. If one of them is moved, expect the Cubs to net an ace in return. However, until the Cubs know whether Jon Lester has decided to sign with them, they likely won't aggressively pursue a trade for an ace. 

    Once they know Lester's decision, and possibly even before, here are five players they could target next week at the winter meetings.

C/OF Evan Gattis

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    This trade is a little outside the box, but Evan Gattis is definitely available. According to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports (h/t Craig Calcaterra of NBC Sports), the Houston Astros were close to acquiring him, but the Atlanta Braves wanted them to also take on B.J. Upton's contract in any potential deal. Clearly, the rebuilding Astros were hesitant to do that.

    If the Cubs could somehow get rid of ineffective pitcher Edwin Jackson in a deal of this type, they could pounce on it. They would likely have to send over two very good (but probably not elite) prospects as well as Jackson. As of now, the teams haven't had discussions, so there's no way to know what exact pieces Atlanta could be looking for in a trade.

    Gattis' power and versatility have to appeal to the Cubs, who may want to replace Welington Castillo at the catcher position. Impressively, the catcher/outfielder has hit 43 home runs in just 723 major league at-bats. If given regular playing time, that could project into a 25-home run season, especially at Wrigley Field.

RHP Jordan Zimmermann

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    Earlier this offseason, Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times reported that the Cubs were aggressively pursuing a trade with the Washington Nationals to acquire Jordan Zimmermann. But those reports were shot down quickly by all involved. However, that doesn't mean that talks like this will never formulate. 

    The Cubs have a surplus of middle infield talent, and Washington will likely be looking to add a middle infielder given that Ian Desmond will be a free agent after the season. In any potential deal, the Cubs would likely have to be ensured they could sign Zimmermann to an extension, since he will also be a free agent next offseason.

    Zimmermann could be an excellent ace option for the Cubs, as he's seemingly getting better with age, posting a career-low 2.66 ERA last season as a 28-year-old. Logically, he could have four to five more years of his prime. If the Cubs aren't able to land Lester, this is a route they could pursue.

LHP Cole Hamels

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    This is a trade the Cubs actually have discussed in the past. When the Cubs claimed Cole Hamels off of waivers last year, they tried to work out a deal with the Philadelphia Phillies but couldn't get one done. Many attribute that to Philly's unrealistically high asking price

    Desperate to move some payroll, the Phillies could lower their asking price for the lefty ace. He still has four years of team control, which makes him a valuable commodity, but the Cubs will still likely have to pay a hefty price. However, if the team feels it needs to add an ace this season and it loses out on Lester, Chicago could pull the trigger on a deal.

    Hamels is yet another candidate to become the Cubs' ace, because he is also getting better as he ages. Like Zimmerman, he posted a career-low ERA of 2.46 with the struggling Phillies last season. Pair him with emerging star Jake Arrieta and all of a sudden, the Cubs have a very strong one-two punch.

C Miguel Montero

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    As evidenced by their aggressive pursuit of Russell Martin earlier in the offseason, the Cubs aren't convinced Welington Castillo is the catcher of the future. While they have Kyle Schwarber in the minor leagues, he likely won't be ready for major league action for a couple years. 

    While they wait for him to be ready, the Cubs may want a better hitting catcher than Castillo. Miguel Montero of the Arizona Diamondbacks is reportedly available, per Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports (h/t Drew Silva of NBC Sports), and the Cubs could pursue him if they're willing to take on the remaining three years and $40 million left on his deal.

    With the team set to be more competitive in 2015 and possibly be contenders in 2016, having a slugger of Montero's caliber at the catcher position is a must. The veteran backstop had a decent .329 on-base percentage while hitting 13 homers and driving in 72 runs in 2014. That's very valuable run production from a catcher.

LHP David Price

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    This could be really interesting, and it would be a desperation move for the Cubs. The Detroit Tigers are "drawing interest" on David Price this offseason according to Ken Rosenthal (h/t MLB Trade Rumors), and he could be available since he has only one year left on his current contract. If the Cubs trade for him, they're going to want to extend him immediately.

    The Cubs making this deal would be to keep other teams from grabbing him up and signing him to an extension. Since he would be the best pitcher on the free-agent market next offseason, the Cubs would be interested in bringing him to Chicago next year. However, if he's locked up long term before then, they will miss out on their chance.

    Likely the only way they make this deal is if they miss out on Lester and sense that Price will be moved elsewhere. The asking price will be high, but Price is one of the best pitchers in all of major league baseball and would likely make the Cubs competitive in 2015.