Chicago Cubs standing pat may be the best option this offseason
By Tim Stebbins
Trading a young player this offseason is a risky game for the Chicago Cubs to play. The team must consider all options before dealing away a potential star.
Offseason speculation about which moves the Chicago Cubs should or should not make is a hot topic these days. Day-in and day-out, speculation grows over what moves the Cubs will make this winter.
From possible free agent acquisitions to players the team could trade, the Cubs continue to pop-up in rumors. At this point, it seems that trading a young star is a foregone conclusion for the team.
Offense responsible for recent success
Despite this, one must consider the possibility of the Cubs not trading away one of their young position players. Instead, they could push for another championship with a group that many seem in a hurry to break apart already.
The Cubs won a championship just over a year ago due in large part to their offense. Of course, Cubs starting pitchers also led the MLB with a combined 3.15 ERA. However, their offense was third in the MLB with 808 runs as well.
The 2016 Cubs won 103 games because of these two strengths; the 2017 Cubs won 92 games because their offense carried them at times. In 2017, Cubs starting pitchers combined for a 3.95 ERA, seventh-best in baseball.
While this is more than respectable, the starting pitching’s decline is cause for concern. Of course, the expectation is that the Cubs will not re-sign two of their pitchers (Jake Arrieta and John Lackey) for 2018.
Trade not only option to acquire starting pitching
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Between the starting pitching decline in 2017 and Arrieta and Lackey presumably leaving, the need for starting pitching is glaring. Of course, this is why speculation continues to grow over which young position player the team will trade.
At the same time, the Cubs’ offense has been an integral part of their success the past few seasons. Trading away one player like Javier Báez, Ian Happ or Kyle Schwarber would hurt, but it would not necessarily destroy the Cubs.
Be that as it may, there are other ways to acquire starting pitching without sacrificing a young position player. Free agency, of course, is the most obvious method in this case, with Alex Cobb being an option for the team.
Current rotation not too shabby
It still is very likely that the team would consider trading a position player for young starting pitching.. However, a trade will become less of a glaring need if the Cubs sign someone like Cobb.
Between Jon Lester, Kyle Hendricks and José Quintana, the Cubs have a tremendous trio already under team-control for 2018. Really, the Cubs have spoiled their fans by having five tremendous starting pitchers in recent seasons. More often than not, that will not be the case.
At some point, the Cubs will most likely make a trade for a starting pitcher that is under team control for several seasons. This route makes a lot of sense, but the Cubs must keep in mind which player goes if they do make a deal.
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All in all, the Cubs have been fortunate to build a roster full of talented position players. If a deal comes to fruition, they must make sure they are making the right decision, both for the betterment of the team in the present but also in the future.