Chicago Cubs: Does a trade with the Cleveland Indians make sense?


The hot stove season boils along and with that, so do the rumors surrounding the Chicago Cubs and potential trade partners. The latest today has the Cleveland Indians aggressively shopping their starting pitching depth for an outfielder to take Michael Brantley’s spot in left field as he is expected to miss the first two months of 2016 while he recovers from shoulder surgery.

The rumor mill has connected the Dodgers and Yasiel Puig, the Yankees and Brett Gardner and the Blue Jays with parts unknown as potential matches for the Indians. With those names in mind, does a swap with the Chicago Cubs make sense?

The Cubs have been a steady source of rumors this offseason after a huge step forward was taken by the organization in 2015 and the World Series plan was accelerated. The emergence of the young stars leads to wild(card)ly successful 2015 and high hopes for the 2016 version of the team.

That coupled with GM Theo Epstein stating that they will be addressing their starting pitching weakness this offseason have linked the Cubs to essentially every major free agent starting pitcher, namely David Price, and a plethora of trade options.

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With news the Indians are looking to move one of their young arms for an outfielder, the Cubs may shape up as a great trade option for Cleveland.

Last season saw the emergence of two young stars that ended the season as the Cubs starting corner outfielders, Kyle Schwarber, and Jorge Soler. While their bats are power-filled, their defensive prowess may be too much of a liability for the Cubs to weather over the course of an entire season.

The rumors exist that the Cubs will be shopping their young bats including Schwarber, Soler, and infielders Starlin Castro and Javier Baez in an attempt to shore up weaknesses at other positions.

With the Cubs focus on starting pitching, the Indians looking to move a young arm makes a ton of sense for the Cubs to look into and Jorge Soler may be a great trade chip for the Cubs to play in order to acquire a young arm.

Each of the arms mentioned in trade rumors out of Cleveland is strikingly similar in different ways. Danny Salazar (25 years old), Trevor Bauer (24) and Carlos Carrasco (28) are the young arms being made available. Last season, Carrasco and Salazar each reached 14 wins with Bauer not far behind at 11.

They were only separated by nine innings pitched with Carrasco striking out the most batters, racking up 216 K’s last season. The other two weren’t far behind with Salazar sitting down 195 hitters and Bauer registering 170 whiffs. The ERA numbers were also close between Salazar (3.45) and Carrasco (3.63) with Bauer a run higher at 4.55.

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Given the history, age and numbers, the thought is Salazar would be the most attractive name but an argument could be made for any of the three being acquired.

Particularly attractive about Salazar is the fact he is under team control and wouldn’t be a free agent until 2021, giving the Cubs a long-term solution to the rotation problem.

Likewise, Trevor Bauer, the former third overall pick in 2011 has shown flashes of his ace potential and would be under team control for the same amount of time, not seeing free agency until 2021.

Either Bauer or Salazar would provide back of the rotation help for the Cubs with the front of the rotation potential and long-term security over a young player. Meanwhile, the Indians would receive the same in 23-year-old Cuban outfielder Jorge Soler who signed a nine-year, $30M contract that sees him become a free agent in that same 2021 year.

The two teams would be trading across leagues, meaning the likelihood of either player coming back to haunt them would be greatly reduced while each team would receive the piece they need not only for now but a potential cornerstone piece for their respective futures. The only question is, will either GM be willing to pull the trigger involving young, potential superstar talent?

Only time will tell.