Chicago Cubs: Five potential trades with the American League West
Chicago Cubs: Could Haniger be the 2020 Castellanos?
The Cubs landed Nicholas Castellanos at the deadline in 2019 and he was everything they expected… and then some. However, with a money crunch and questions concerning Big Stick Nick’s outfield defense, is it possible the Cubs could get the same kind of guy to smack some doubles around Wrigley Field for a good deal cheaper?
Well, as a matter of fact, it might be. Mitch Haniger, a late bloomer who had a breakout 2018 campaign at age 27, just might be an option should the Cubs want to go that route despite persistent (if illogical, based on money) rumors of interest in Castellanos. Haniger is no stranger to trade speculation, and there have even been reports and trade propositions floating around out there on the interwebs about the Cubs possibly going after Haniger. Is it possible the Cubs could go from “Big Stick Nick” to “Mashed Pitch Mitch” in an offseason?
Haniger had a physically painful season in 2019 after his monster 4.5 fWAR 2018 campaign, rupturing his testicle on a foul ball in June and then missing the rest of the season with a bad back. If he is now completely healthy, the Cubs could be interested in pivoting their focus on a right-handed-hitting rightfielder from Castellanos to a much cheaper (and better fielding) Haniger. Despite being older than Castellanos, Haniger isn’t even close to hitting the open market and is still under team control for three more seasons. Those seasons also happen to line up with what should be prime years, potentially ensuring the Cubs get the best years out of Haniger before he hits free agency.
The fact that Haniger is under team control for three more years should mean he’d cost a ton in a potential trade, however his age and injuries in 2019 could whittle that price down for the Cubs. A rebuilding and out-of-contention club wouldn’t usually want to give away a guy with so many years of team control, but the Mariners have basically no shot to do anything in the AL West the next couple years given the fact the rest of the division is so much better. The need to send back close to MLB-ready prospects probably isn’t even there with the M’s either, as they have time on their side in terms of development.
Outfielders Cole Roederer and Brennen Davis are only 20 years old and shortstop Aramis Ademan is only 21. Package one of those top prospect fielders with one of Kohl Franklin (20), Yovanny Cruz (20), or Richard Gallardo (18) off the mound and you have a good start for Haniger. Throw in another young lottery ticket of M’s GM Jerry DiPoto’s choosing and Haniger could be manning right field at Wrigley for three years.