An Early Look at the Top 5 Cubs Trade Deadline Chips

Jacob Kornhauser@@KornSportsCorrespondent IIIApril 18, 2015

An Early Look at the Top 5 Cubs Trade Deadline Chips

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    David Zalubowski/Associated Press

    The MLB season is only a couple weeks in, but it's never too early to look at teams' trade assets. Every team has some; the Cubs have several.

    Unlike in past seasons, the Cubs may be buyers rather than sellers at this year's deadline. That could mean they're trading minor league or major league assets. It could also mean they're standing pat.

    Whether they decide to trade any of these players or not, these are the Cubs' top five trade chips two weeks into the season.

5. 1B Dan Vogelbach

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    Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press

    The chances of Dan Vogelbach ever playing in a Cubs uniform are very slim. That's because he plays first base and isn't defensively versatile. Of course, the Cubs have Anthony Rizzo at the position, and Vogelbach projects better as a DH anyway.

    If an American League team is looking for an extra prospect to sweeten a particular deal, there's a good chance it'll ask about Vogelbach. The Cubs may have their eye on some starting pitching this trade deadline, and Vogelbach could be the tipping point in those potential negotiations.

4. C Welington Castillo

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    Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press

    Surprisingly, the Cubs actually stuck to their word and went with three catchers going into this season. While it has seemingly worked so far, they could be getting more value at other positions by trading someone away. 

    The odd man out appears to be Castillo, because the team just traded for Miguel Montero and signed David Ross to be Jon Lester's personal catcher. He may have been kept on the team in hopes he could improve his trade value during the season.

    Because catching is in short supply, don't be surprised if the Cubs move Castillo whenever they feel he's at his highest value.

3. LHP Travis Wood

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    Nam Y. Huh/Associated Press

    After acquiring a lot of starting pitching over the offseason and after Travis Wood's poor 2014 performance, it would have made sense for the Cubs to trade him. However, they elected not to. 

    He's rewarding them so far this season; he's 1-1 with a 2.31 ERA. The Cubs could be forced to make a choice come this trade deadline. If he's playing well, do they trade him at his highest value, or do they hold onto him?

    In the past, they would have traded him in that situation with no hesitation. However, they could be competitive this year and may want to hold onto a hot starting pitcher.

    Further complicating the matter is the fact that the team may be able to add more elite starting pitching this offseason. In that case, getting rid of Wood at the deadline would make more sense. Clearly, if Wood is pitching well come July, the Cubs will face a tough decision.

    It's those types of decisions that Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer get paid millions of dollars to make.

2. 2B/SS Javier Baez

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    Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press

    Javier Baez struggled mightily last season; that's no secret. He tried to improve his swing and his approach at the plate over the offseason, but the results just weren't there this spring. Now, he's sitting in Triple-A trying to figure things out.

    Right now, it would make no sense to trade Baez, because he's at his lowest possible value. However, if he re-establishes his value, he could be an interesting trade chip. With Addison Russell and Starlin Castro possibly up the middle in the future, there may be nowhere for Baez to go.

    Especially if the Cubs think they can land another elite starting pitcher, Baez could be involved in a deal.

1. SS Starlin Castro

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    David Zalubowski/Associated Press

    If the Cubs think they want to hold onto Baez or go with some other infield combination, they could decide to trade three-time All-Star shortstop Starlin Castro. People are split on whether or not the team should do this, but many in the industry believe the team will make this move.

    One would think the team would like to hold onto a player who made three All-Star teams by the time he turned 25, but the possibility that he gets traded is seeming increasingly real. If the Cubs really do want to pull off a blockbuster trade, it may contain Castro at the center—whether it be this year or in the future.