Chicago Cubs: Starling Marte
The first question we needed to ask about Starling Marte has already been answered, as the Pittsburgh Pirates will pick up his $11.5 million option for 2020. So, he won’t be a free agent, but that doesn’t mean the Pirates won’t try to move him. The next question we need to ask is whether the Pirates will fully commit to a rebuild this offseason, as they’ve been hesitant to the past couple of years. If indeed they do, look for them to move Marte.
Unlike the other candidates that we’ll see on this list, Marte has been a full-time center fielder over the past couple of seasons, so he could slot into center and put Heyward back to his natural position of right field. Marte won a Gold Glove Award in 2015 and 2016, while his range factor per nine innings has been consistently above league average.
On offense, Marte is a career .287 hitter who set career highs in home runs (23) and RBIs (82) in 2019. He also would bring speed on a team that is lacking it; Marte has stolen over 20 bases every year since 2013. As he’s entering his age 31 season, Marte’s speed and defense may diminish a little, but he’s developed more power over the past couple of seasons.
Would the Pirates trade Marte to a division rival? And would the Cubs have enough young talent to pull off a trade for Marte? That remains to be seen, though on the surface it appears that Marte could be a fit for the Cubs. In addition to his $11.5 million salary in 2020, Marte comes with a $12.5 million team option for 2021. If he plays like he did in 2019, that would be a good deal.