The Chicago Cubs have been reeling as of late. The once-stellar defense has disappeared, base runners are falling asleep a lot, and the bullpen can’t hold a lead. In other words, this is not a good team right now.
Sitting at 45-43, it’s looking like the Chicago Cubs may be closer to sellers than buyers. Is there anything to sell?
The core members are the place to start. Javier Baez, Kris Bryant, Willson Contreras, and Anthony Rizzo are not going anywhere. Kyle Schwarber is a 30 home run hitter with a good eye at the plate and is under control for another two years; he can be had in the right deal. Jon Lester, Yu Darvish, and Cole Hamels are seasoned vets, and the team needs them right now. Once Hamels gets back from injury, that is.
Cishek is the obvious name that comes to mind. Steve Cishek has pitched in about 350 games in two seasons with the Cubs. Don’t look that up. (The actual number is 117.) He has pitched to an ERA under three, has experience at the back end of a bullpen, with 132 career saves, but the most important thing is that he keeps the ball in the ballpark.
Cishek has only given up eight home runs in 106 2/3 innings as a Cub and has 117 strikeouts in those innings, so he misses bats. Cishek signed a two-year deal with the Cubs two winters ago, and he is a free agent at the end of the season.
Pedro Strop, like Cishek, is also a free agent at the end of the season but has not been as effective as year’s past. This is Strop’s sixth full season as a Cub and has a 2.72 ERA in 384 games as a Cub. He also misses bats, with 397 strikeouts in 351 innings.
This year, Strop hasn’t been consistent enough. A 4.12 ERA is his highest in Chicago by far. He is still missing bats, with 21 strikeouts in 19 2/3 innings. He has spent some time on the disabled list and is also 34, but teams can never have too many relievers.
Strop is allowing his highest amount of hard contact during his entire time in the Major Leagues, at 34 percent, save for a 35.1 percent sample from 15 appearances in 2010. That could be age, and that could still be his injury recovery. His track record should be something that appeals to other teams, rather than just the down year this year.
Who knows what it would take for the Cubs to sell. They were in a worse spot at the 2017 All-Star break and traded for Jose Quintana before running away in the second half. If the division stays close, the Cubs will buy.
The status quo is not working, however, so it would not be surprising if they made some changes, on either side. Theo Epstein mentioned in an interview that “anything is on the table” and that the Chicago Cubs “have not played well enough to rule anything out” on the radio before Wednesday’s game, something to keep an eye on.