Chicago Cubs: Team’s biggest need isn’t a slugger, it’s a shutdown lefty

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Chicago Cubs
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Chicago Cubs: Could a trade be the answer?

This summer, the San Diego Padres dealt left-hander Brad Hand to the Cleveland Indians, a club looking to end their championship drought – the longest in professional sports. Despite Hand’s contributions down the stretch (28 appearances, 2.28 ERA, .192 opponent average), the Tribe fell short again in 2018.

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But, despite losing important bullpen pieces like Cody Allen and the aforementioned Andrew Miller, Cleveland has Hand under team control through 2020 and holds a team option for 2021. He makes just over $7.5 million in 2019 and $10 million in 2020. That option comes at a price of $10 million – with a $1 million buyout.

Calling his deal team-friendly is a drastic understatement.

But for a team like Cleveland, whose window seems to be closing more and more with each passing year, he may hold higher value as a trade chip than a long-term asset. His contract, combined with his 2.62 ERA over the last three campaigns, make him incredibly valuable.

Could the Cubs turn a deal centered around Ian Happ or Kyle Schwarber into a bonafide shutdown lefty this offseason? If that’s the goal, there may not be a better target than Brad Hand.