Chicago Cubs: How great would it be to pair these two in the middle?
With another disappointing and inconsistent offensive year for the club as a whole, perhaps the front office would consider some bigger changes this offseason. One option to consider would be making a run at perennial MVP candidate (and already successful leadoff hitter) Francisco Lindor and teaming him with Javier Baez for the best middle infield combination in baseball. While Lindor is just 25 and Cleveland holds control over him for two more seasons, rumor has it that the sides haven’t been close in past extension talks.
Of course, the real question in regards to acquiring Lindor would be the cost. What’s the going rate for an MVP-caliber shortstop who is just 25? Probably pretty steep. If we could unload some prospects and some non-core MLB talent (think Ian Happ), would it be enough? Would the package of Hoerner, Happ, and one of Brailyn Marquez or Miguel Amaya get the job done? Would the Indians be interested in maligned Addison Russell to effectively replace his defense at short?
Would the Cubs include either Victor Caratini or Willson Contreras in a deal and go with the other as their starting catcher? Given the way he’s played this year, could Caratini be a big chip in a deal like this? Or, given the way he’s played, could he give the Cubs faith in trading away All-Star catcher Contreras and letting him assume the mantle of starting backstop?
I don’t know how strained the relationship is with Cleveland and Lindor, nor do I know how much they value chips the Cubs possess, but there are several MLB players and several prospects who would seem to be a starting point considering it could possibly give the Indians a few cost-controlled MLB players next season and another in a year or two.
There’s also the thought that a swapping of superstars might be a win-win for both teams if neither think they can (or want to) resign their respective stud. Lindor for Bryant may make Cubs’ fans queasy because they’d be losing a proven MVP and half of beloved tandem “Bryzzo,” but consider the fact that there is a free agent to-be we’ve already brought up (Rendon) who could fill that spot and make the Cubs’ infield other-worldly. Trade for Lindor, sign Rendon and bring back Nick Castellanos and the lineup would be a juggernaut. Unfortunately, the prospects for that pipe dream in terms of fiscal resources and trade likelihood are probably zilch.
The abyss of futility that is the Chicago Cubs’ leadoff spot has to come to an end before the 2020 season. Regardless of other moves being made, the leadoff hole needs to be addressed for a team that has a stacked middle of the lineup with five guys who have 30 home run potential. Whether it’s a trade, free agent signing, or diamond in the rough from within, it’s a need that must be met if the Cubs want to be contenders in 2020.