It’s trade deadline season, which means rumors are floating around about who could be headed where. Could the Chicago Cubs pull the trigger on a rental?
Starting pitching has been very up and down throughout the Chicago Cubs season so far, which has warranted plenty of trade rumors with the non-waiver deadline upcoming. One of the recent rumors involves left-hander J.A. Happ of the Toronto Blue Jays.
The Cubs could certainly use another starting pitcher. While Jon Lester has been sensational for much of the first half, it is likely he could experience some regression. Meanwhile, Kyle Hendricks has been nowhere near his 2016 form, and Jose Quintana has yet to live up to his potential since the Cubs acquired him a year ago.
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Thus, it is evident that question marks surround the Cubs rotation. But do they need to acquire a new starting pitcher or solve their problems from within?
Is Happ the answer?
It seems clear that the Cubs would benefit from another starting pitcher down the stretch of the season. The rotation as currently constructed might not be enough to bring them as far as the World Series, especially if Darvish does not return to form.
J.A. Happ has had a good year, despite a few recent struggles. He is currently 10-6 with a 4.29 ERA in 109 innings this season. While July has been a tough month for him so far, he showed his potential in June, putting up a 3.16 ERA for the month with a .181 batting average against. His season has been good enough to earn him an All-Star nod, as well.
Thus, Happ is a good pitcher – not great. He’d likely slide into the middle of most team’s rotations. But he’s far from an ace.
The Cubs rotation is still better than many, and it seems to me that only an ace could really put Chicago over the edge. If they are going to trade away assets, why not get a guy who gives them a much better shot at the World Series? It does not seem like Happ is that guy.
Not worth the trade chips
The Cubs still have plenty of trade chips—many of which are on the current major league roster. The Blue Jays reportedly showed interest in David Bote, and certainly Ian Happ would be of interest as well, especially with his recent stretch of success leading up to the All-Star break.
However, Happ does not seem worth trading off the major league roster, which is likely what the Blue Jays would demand, since the Cubs are somewhat lacking in minor league talent. If the Cubs are going to trade from the big league club, it should be for an ace who will put them over the edge as a favorite to win the National League—Jacob deGrom comes to mind as an option.
Sure, J.A. Happ could help boost an up and down rotation. But overall, if the Cubs rotation lives up to its full potential, it is good to go as is. The only guy that would really be worth the trade chips would be an ace to power the Cubs past the competition.