Chicago Cubs: A wishful fan’s call for a trade that won’t happen
If you can get past the idea of trading within the division, the Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals may be able to help each other out this offseason.
The offseason hasn’t even officially started, with Game 2 of the Fall Classic slated for Wednesday night between the Mets and Royals, but here on the North Side of Chicago, we’re already looking at all possible answers to shore up this Cubs’ roster.
No, really. We’ll consider pretty much anything – it’ll take out-of-the-box thinking to push Chicago over that final hurdle, not to mention return to the postseason in 2016 after a 97-win regular season and a trip to the National League Championship Series.
Just how serious are we about this? Serious enough to consider a trade with the Cardinals – the team’s biggest rival and a fellow member of the National League Central.
The target? Right-handed starting pitcher Lance Lynn, who, for reasons unknown (well, maybe it’s the 4.00-plus ERA in the season’s final month) caught a lot of flak from St. Louis fans, who, as we know, as the self-labeled best fans in baseball.
Never mind the fact that without Lynn, the Cardinals’ starting rotation would have been a complete disaster after losing Adam Wainwright early-on and dealing with the losses of both Jaime Garcia and Carlos Martinez at different point in the season, not to mention the burning-out of Michael Wacha.
On the whole, Lynn pitched to a 3.03 earned run average across 31 outings this year for St. Louis. He was the benefactor of a strong defense behind him, evidenced by his 3.44 FIP. He wasn’t quite the workhorse he’d been in recent years, totaling just over 175 innings – down from 201 and 203 innings, respectively, over the past two seasons.
Across-the-board, Lynn’s numbers are near-identical to his 2014 campaign, so the bitterness of Cardinals’ fans seems misplaced to me. He allowed roughly a half-hit more per nine this season, but also saw his strikeouts-per-nine climb to an 8.6 mark.
But here comes the issue with such a proposal: there’s no way John Mozeliak and the Cardinals’ front office bites on a deal like this – for multiple reasons.
First, this team needs pitching. St. Louis is expected to go after a front-line starting pitcher this season to help add impact talent in the rotation, and that’s with Lynn expected to return to the team next year.
Wainwright should be healthy and ready to go for 2016, but as he heads into his mid-to-late 30s in the coming years, you never know exactly what you’ll get in terms of effectiveness moving forward.
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Wacha and Martinez should be set for the start of next season, as well, having the offseason to recover and rest up from long years, and, alongside Waino, this gives the Cardinals a very solid core – at least in the short-term. Throw in Garcia and Lynn and it’s easy to see why St. Louis starters led the league in several categories this year.
But, as the old adage goes, you can never have enough pitching.
Second, Chicago isn’t likely to meet an asking price that’s sure to be sky-high in an intra-divisional trade. We’re talking something between Jorge Soler and Kyle Schwarber – and you can’t blame St. Louis for asking for talent like that.
Lynn is controlled for the next two seasons at just $7.5 million per year, is just 28 years old and has been a workhorse for the Cardinals in recent years. Subtracting him from the mix could prove to be a costly mistake – but for the Cubs, he’d completely change the dynamic of this starting rotation.
I’m not stupid. I know that Chicago has a better chance of signing David Price to a mega-deal than they do trading for Lance Lynn. But he fits the bill for what the team should be looking for: a legitimate number three arm to slot in behind Jake Arrieta and Jon Lester next season.