Chicago Cubs: The time has come to deal from the wealth of prospects
It’s time for the Cubs to reach into the stockpile and make some moves
The Chicago Cubs have spent the past five seasons assembling one of the best farm systems the game has seen. As the team begins to win on a regular basis, it will be tougher to maintain that status (Something that we will gladly accept). Some have seen this coming for a long time. Others have argued against it and wanted to see the Cubs keep every prospect. Everywhere. Teams see what the Cubs have done, they know their development of talent and assessment of it is strong–and this is how the Cubs can continue to build on the 2015 season without just tossing millions of dollars into free agency. It’s time to start trading from the wealth of talent in order to take the next step.
Over the last few years, we’ve seen these names in the minors and been frothing at the mouth as we spoke of what they would do. Even fantasized about what would happen if they somehow all arrived at the same time. Well, they sort of have. And while Addison Russell, Jorge Soler, Kris Bryant and Kyle Schwarber arrived on the scene, this could potentially leave a few left out in the cold. But it’s not a “left to toil in the minors” cold, but a “we’re shipping you elsewhere for pitching talent” kind of cold.
The infield was expected to be a crowded place with prospects, and it filled up as fast as we imagined. A few years ago it was expected that Javier Baez would have claimed his place. He could be one of the ones on the outside. We won’t debate the “who’s going to go” between Baez or Starlin Castro. That line in the sand is drawn by the fans, not the organization. A case can be made for either, and I’ve stated my position more than once (Pro-Castro if you haven’t read before).
The Cubs have some outfield talent waiting in the wings, guys like Billy McKinney and Albert Almora. And a possible hole created by Dexter Fowler if he isn’t resigned. So one of these guys could be the “new” guy next year, right? Not so fast. The Cubs have already had some changes to the plan with Schwarber seeing time in the outfield, as well as Bryant in a few fill-in situations. But now there’s discussion of one or both playing the outfield next season. That is all on how you see Schwarber panning out behind the plate. Personally, I see him being most valuable as a mediocre defensive catcher with bat–and maybe it’ll improve with time. I also think the discussion about his outfield defense was overblown from his NLCS mishaps. He was better than that all season.
The Cubs might not have as many players on the cusp of the majors, but they may not be far behind. I’ve talked about it till being blue in the face–this was not only possible, but a part of the plan that was likely to happen. The team has assembled a wealth of positional talent while picking up reclamation projects, secondary market guys–while drafting pitchers out of high school in the later rounds of the draft. They stocked the cupboard with these types of guys, and now it’s time to start dealing from the wealth.
I don’t want to see anyone go either. I’m with all of you that feel that way. But I’d rather see the team trade a few guys that might not have a place to play in order to build the roster (translated: pitching) than simply go out and spend $200 million on David Price–or whoever else whose name has been dropped. The team can still go out and get a “top-tier” guy, but maybe focus on a Jordan Zimmerman instead. Or maybe there is another Jake Arrieta out there. Or even Jason Hammel, but first half Hammel only.
Next: Cubs have their work cut out for them
The team is in a position of strength as far as position players. And clearly they have a need for pitching. While I want to believe the Cubs will be winning for a long time to come, sometimes these windows to win are only open for a few years. The Cubs need to cash in on this opportunity. It’s not sacrificing the future, but simply playing for the present. A lot of us have had enough of wait till next year.