Cubs willing to trade Kyle Schwarber, Ian Happ over Willson Contreras?

According to a report, the Chicago Cubs seem more willing to deal Kyle Schwarber, Ian Happ and Albert Almora than catcher Willson Contreras.

We’ve heard Willson Contrerasname mentioned in rumors more than any other Cubs player to-date. To a degree, it makes sense. It’s hard to imagine another player outside of maybe Kris Bryant fetching a similar return, especially given the team’s reported desire to lock up Javier Baez long-term.

But according to a new report from Thomas Harding of MLB.com, teams are coming away from chats with Chicago believing there are other players the Cubs would prefer to deal in lieu of moving the two-time All-Star catcher.

The Cubs are expected to be active, but early indications are they have more interest in moving center fielder Albert Almora Jr., left fielder Kyle Schwarber and switch-hitting utility man Ian Happ than Contreras

Now, none of those guys alone are enough to net someone like Jon Gray – at least not currently given how Colorado views the hard-throwing right-hander. But it makes sense if you consider the Cubs have an understandably high asking price when it comes to their young backstop.

Regardless, Harding indicates the Rockies have no plans of trading Gray, so that’s a bit of a moot point. The bigger takeaway here is Chicago being more willing to move off of other pieces on the roster instead of Contreras.

Trading someone like Almora makes a ton of sense to me. He looks more and more like a perfect change-of-scenery candidate after a disappointing 2019 season where he took steps in the wrong direction both at the dish and in the outfield.

Happ is an intriguing guy. He’s a switch-hitter who plays multiple positions – and he comes with four years of team control. Late in the season, he showed why the Cubs selected him in the first round back in 2015, turning in a 1.457 OPS over the final two weeks.

He could very well be an integral part of the Cubs’ long-term plans. But if the team does indeed move him, he could be a critical piece in Epstein’s offseason war chest. The one guy whose value has never been higher? Schwarber.

The Chicago left fielder is coming off a career year, where he blasted 38 home runs and turned in a mammoth second half where, believe it or not, he was more valuable than Nicholas Castellanos. Somehow, though, that’s gone overlooked. This guy was absolutely locked in – and if he can carry that type of production throughout an entire season, he could be one of the best players in baseball.

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With the Winter Meetings approaching, Epstein clearly has a lot of moving pieces on the board. We’ll have to see which ones remain when the dust settles and a new season of Cubs baseball dawns in the spring.