Chicago Cubs: Another big trade could be on the horizon for the Cubs

Feb 22, 2016; Mesa, AZ, USA; Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon (70) talks to president of baseball operations Theo Epstein during spring training camp at Sloan Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 22, 2016; Mesa, AZ, USA; Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon (70) talks to president of baseball operations Theo Epstein during spring training camp at Sloan Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports /

The Chicago Cubs enter Cactus League play with a handful of outfielders who will be fighting for an Opening Day roster spot. Not to mention the prospects who will be giving the league a preview of what’s to come in the future. The only question is, will it be with the North Siders?

With February drawing to a close, the Chicago Cubs will be hitting the field this upcoming Thursday when they take on the Milwaukee Brewers to begin Cactus League play.

This team that reached the National League Championship Series just five months ago made several moves over the offseason. Following the additions of John Lackey, Jason Heyward, and Ben Zobrist, Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer somehow managed to get Dexter Fowler to return for $7.8 million less than his qualifying offer.

That was after a report regarding a multi-year deal between Fowler and the Baltimore Orioles was released to the public. Which just so happened to be false according to Dexter Fowler’s camp over at Excel Sports Management via the Baltimore Sun.

Either way, the soon-to-be 30-year-old switch-hitter is finally back home where he belongs and will have plenty of back-up throughout the 2016 campaign.

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Aside from prospect Fowler, the Cubs currently have Matt Szczur, Matt Murton, Jason Heyward, Kyle Schwarber, Jorge Soler, prospect Albert Almora and recently signed Shane Victorino (including a few others) on the spring roster.

Surely, National League Rookie of the Year winner Kris Bryant may continue to see some playing time in the outfield. But that’s entirely up to Joe Maddon who opted to use him at multiple positions last year.

Now, with Opening Day just a month away, there’s a good chance that the Cubs may end up making a big trade to improve their current five-man rotation later on down the road.

Right now the top three spots in their rotation consist of Jake Arrieta, Jon Lester, and Lackey. For right now, both Kyle Hendricks and Jason Hammel are at the bottom of the order but need to prove that they belong with the other three.

Hammel injured himself in a game against the St. Louis Cardinals early last season and came back with consistency issues. Hendricks, on the other hand, went back and forth with these same issues the entire season, eventually hitting a 20-something scoreless inning streak in July.

If these two just so happen to hit the same brick wall, the Cubs could very well go out and find themselves a suitable No. 3 or 4 starter from the Tampa Bay Rays or another team looking to add to their roster.

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The Cubs were in talks with the Rays over the winter regarding 28-year-old right-hander, Alex Cobb who underwent Tommy John Surgery last May following another fine campaign.

In 2014, he ended the year with a 149/47 K/BB ratio, 1.14 WHIP, and a 2.87 ERA through 166 1/3 innings of work. If a deal was made between both teams and he was able to return to that form, the move would definitely be worth it.

The only problem is, Tampa Bay’s outfield is just as crowded as Chicago’s. So that could point to first base prospect Dan Vogelbach becoming a key piece in the deal. I don’t necessarily see another National League team looking to pick him up, which is why I personally think he’d be better off as a potential designated hitter in the American League.

Next: Offseason moves is what baseball is about

Instead of the Cubs having to part ways with either Javier Baez or Jorge Soler (for right now), they could put together a package that features both Vogelbach and Szczur. Szczur was called up multiple times last season and even had himself a walk-off hit against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Remember, the Atlanta Braves and San Diego Padres pulled off a few blockbuster trades before Opening Day in 2015. So don’t be surprised if the Cubs make another huge move of their own over the next month or so.