Cubs' Top Prospects to Target and Avoid at 2021 MLB Trade Deadline
The Chicago Cubs are poised to sell at the trade deadline for the first time in years, and with a number of core pieces headed for free agency at the end of the season, a full-blown fire sale is not out of the question.
While players like Anthony Rizzo, Javier Baez, Craig Kimbrel and others are all candidates to be dealt, the most likely big-name player to be suiting up elsewhere for the final two months appears to be All-Star Kris Bryant.
The New York Mets, Philadelphia Phillies and San Francisco Giants are among his logical potential landing spots, and his ability to play third base and all three outfield spots should help create a more robust market.
Focusing on those three teams, we've highlighted two prospects the team should target in trades and one they would be smart to avoid.
The Cubs system is particularly thin on pitching talent, so we've focused on pitching prospects for this exercise, though that will by no means be the only type of prospect the Cubs are interested in.
Target: RHP J.T. Ginn, New York Mets
The No. 52 overall pick in the 2020 draft, J.T. Ginn was given first-round money with a $2.9 million signing bonus after flashing frontline stuff at South Carolina.
The 22-year-old has the potential for three plus pitches, including a fastball that touches 97 mph, a hard-biting slider and an improving changeup. There is some effort in his delivery, but with a strong 6'2", 200-pound frame and good command, he still looks the part of a future starter.
With Matthew Allan sidelined following Tommy John surgery, there's a strong case to be made that Ginn is the best pitching prospect in the Mets' system right now.
If they are not inclined to part with catcher Francisco Alvarez, shortstop Ronny Mauricio or third baseman Brett Baty in a deal for Bryant, Ginn could be the centerpiece that brings his bat to New York.
Avoid: LHP Seth Corry, San Francisco Giants
Left-hander Seth Corry had a brilliant 2019 season.
A third-round pick in 2017 who struggled with his command in the lower levels of the minors in his pro debut, he appeared to take a significant step forward at Single-A Augusta when he posted a 1.76 ERA, 1.07 WHIP and an eye-popping 172 strikeouts in 122.2 innings.
He still walked batters at a less-than-ideal 4.3 walks per nine innings clip, but he limited opposing hitters to a .171 batting average and missed a ton of bats, making that rate a bit more tenable.
This season has been a different story.
The 22-year-old has struggled to a 5.93 ERA and 1.68 WHIP with a staggering 54 walks in 54.2 innings at High-A Eugene. He also has 85 strikeouts, so the swing-and-miss stuff remains, but the Cubs should be wary of his lack of control when eyeing a deep Giants farm system.
Target: RHP Cristian Hernandez, Philadelphia Phillies
Looking for an under-the-radar prospect for the Cubs to target?
Right-hander Cristian Hernandez is enjoying a breakout season at Single-A Clearwater, and he recently checked in as the No. 8 prospect in the Philadelphia system in B/R's updated farm system rankings following the 2021 draft.
The 20-year-old began the year with just 63 professional innings under his belt, all of which came in the Dominican Summer League.
In his stateside debut, he has a 3.48 ERA, 1.18 WHIP and a 66-to-20 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 51.2 innings, and his stuff backs up his on-field performance.
With projection remaining in his 6'3", 180-pound frame, he already has a solid fastball/slider combination, and the improvement of his changeup will ultimately determine if he sticks in the rotation. His arrow is pointing straight up right now, though, and he is an intriguing target if the Cubs are seeking a bigger package of players rather than one marquee prospect.
All stats courtesy of Baseball Reference.