Cubs' Final Guide, Ideal Targets for 2021 MLB Trade Deadline
The Chicago Cubs roster will have a distinctly different look in August and September.
Contenders for much of the first half, the Cubs endured a brutal 11-game losing streak in late June and early July that sent them plummeting from tied for the National League Central lead to nine games back in fourth place in the standings.
Now staring down a 50-53 record and with a 1.1 percent chance of reaching the postseason, they are clear sellers at the deadline, and several of their longtime core pieces are poised to find new homes before the deadline.
Ahead we've taken a closer look at what pieces they might sell off, while also highlighting a pair of prospects who could be potential return pieces for some of their trade chips.
Teams have until 4 p.m. ET on Friday to finalize any trades.
Buyers or Sellers?
The Cubs have made it no secret they intend to sell.
"We've believed in these guys since 2015. They've had a ton of success, and I would never count these guys out," general manager Jed Hoyer told reporters at the tail end of the 11-game losing streak. "But 11 days ago we were certainly fully on the 'buy' side of these transactions, and everyone was calling about that. And obviously people are now calling to see which players are available. So, it's a very different scenario [than what] we expected. Life comes at you fast."
Third baseman Kris Bryant, shortstop Javier Baez and first baseman Anthony Rizzo are all free agents this winter, making them prime candidates to be dealt, while closer Craig Kimbrel has a $16 million club option for 2022 and might be the most likely candidate of all to be traded in the midst of a terrific season.
Starter Zach Davies and reliever Ryan Tepera are also potential rental pickups that could help a contender.
It's going to be a busy deadline on the North Side.
Ideal Target: 3B Mark Vientos, New York Mets
The New York Mets have been a popular hypothetical landing spot for Kris Bryant since before the 2021 season began, and they have the prospect talent to get a deal done.
Third baseman Mark Vientos ranked among the "Next 50" prospects when Bleacher Report's most recent top 100 prospect list was revealed following the 2021 draft, and he could be the centerpiece in a deal to acquire the former NL MVP.
Vientos, 21, is hitting .266/.340/.573 with 13 doubles, 18 home runs and 49 RBI in 58 games at Double-A, and he would immediately join the upper tier of prospects in the Cubs system that represents the future of the franchise.
A package built around him and a low-level lottery ticket or two would be a nice haul for the Cubs as they start to turn their attention to the future.
Ideal Target: RHP Brayan Bello, Boston Red Sox
First baseman Anthony Rizzo and closer Craig Kimbrel are both potential targets for the Boston Red Sox as they look to solidify their roster in an effort to hold off the Tampa Bay Rays in the AL East race.
The team's two top prospects—first baseman Triston Casas and middle infielder Jeter Downs—will be untouchable for a rental player, but there are plenty of second-tier players in the system that the Cubs could target.
Right-hander Brayan Bello is enjoying a breakout season, posting a 3.32 ERA, 1.17 WHIP and 87 strikeouts in 59.2 innings between High-A and Double-A.
That was enough for him to climb to No. 10 on the team's top prospect list in Bleacher Report's most recent farm system rankings following the 2021 draft, and he would give the Cubs a developing arm on the rise who could be ready for the big leagues as early as next year.
All stats courtesy of Baseball Reference.