Chicago Cubs fans, it’s time to have a little talk. One of your favorite players won’t be wearing Chicago pinstripes for much longer. Who? I don’t know, but it will be someone, and it will be soon.
Dexter Fowler, Tommy La Stella, and Jorge Soler heading to the DL cleared the path for Albert Almora Jr. and Willson Contreras to receive that coveted call up to the show. And for our viewing pleasure, they’ve both performed quite well up to this point.
I’ve always felt that top prospects being called up gives off an opening-day type of vibe. Both refreshing and exciting. You get to see the front office’s hard work come to fruition before your eyes. And with these young studs on the roster, the Cubs now have a team loaded with talent.
But they can’t all stay. Sorry, I know you didn’t want to hear that.
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The reality is someone has to go. The outfield. in particular, is crowded. Jason Heyward, Dexter Fowler, Kyle Schwarber, Jorge Soler, Albert Almora Jr., and even Willson Contreras have all patrolled the outfield this year. All of them are valuable for different reasons, but all of them can’t stay.
Despite the Cubs having the best record in baseball, they do have some big holes in their game. Holes that could become painfully more noticeable in October. But you guys were already aware of that. So let’s get down to business; one of these guys will likely be traded.
Let’s begin by crossing the obvious names off the list.
Dexter Fowler is currently on a one-year deal with Chicago. His career year at the plate had provided a big boost to the Cubs’ offense until he landed on the DL. Fowler and his .398 on-base percentage should be returning to the lineup sometime in the near future. His lead-off presence will prove to be vital come playoff time. He’s not going anywhere.
Obviously, Jason Heyward isn’t going anywhere either. Though I wish his batting average would go up. But that’s a different story for a different time. Onward!
Here’s where things get a little cloudy. Multiple reports have suggested that the Cubs have no desire to trade Kyle Schwarber, but I wouldn’t be 100% certain. Everyone has their price. If the Cubs were offered an outrageous return for Schwarber, they’d have to give it some consideration.
At one point it was reported that the Yankees wanted him in return for one of their premier bullpen arms. I don’t think Epstein and company would give him up for a reliever, but I’ve been wrong before.
They seem to be pretty adamant about keeping him, so you should still feel alright about buying your son or daughter that blue Schwarber jersey.
I haven’t seen or heard anything in regards to Willson Contreras trade rumors, so I’m going to assume there are none. He’s one that I would consider untouchable. He’s been phenomenal at the plate and pretty sharp catching as well. He can even play a decent left field and first base. The Cubs may see him as their catcher of the future. Probably (hopefully) not going anywhere.
Albert Almora Jr. also fits the ‘future’ mold. Fowler’s time in Chicago will probably come to an end after this season, and the Cubs may see Almora Jr. as the next in line to fill the everyday center fielder job. Maybe not quite as untouchable as Contreras, but still a safe bet that he ends up being a mainstay.
That leaves Jorge Soler. Since being called up in 2014, Soler has been sort of a project in the making. A player with untapped potential, if you will. He’s shown flashes of that potential, but he hasn’t quite blossomed into the player many think he can be.
His defense in the outfield leaves a little bit to be desired, and that may not be totally fixable. He could definitely make some improvements, but as far as instincts go, you either have them or you don’t.
However, his value lies primarily in his bat. Did you watch him in the playoffs? The dude was a monster. Maybe that level of performance was a one-off, maybe it wasn’t. People thought Daniel Murphy was a flash in the pan in last year’s playoffs, but the Washington Nationals’ investment in him seems to be paying off pretty well.
Soler has struggled early this year, but he was starting to turn a corner before he landed on the DL. A rebuilding team may very well find his talent to their liking. If so, they could offer the Cubs a deal to help them push for the big one in 2016.
Bottom line: Jorge Soler looks like the odd man out in Chicago right now. I really like the guy, so it pains me to say that. It could happen this year before the deadline, or maybe it happens during the offseason.
I’m not saying you should start cutting up your Soler jersey and sewing the pieces into the holes in your jeans, but it might be time to brace yourselves for this move. Because just like Winter, it’s coming.