The Chicago Cubs will almost certainly not be trading David Bote ahead of Monday’s deadline.
However, Bote’s value runs deeper. The 27-year-old has been a run-producer for the Cubs, driving in 17 in 24 games.
Moreover, Bote is arguably the best clutch hitter on the team. He has a 1.323 OPS with two outs and runners in scoring position and a .945 OPS in high-leverage situations.
The advanced numbers favor Bote as well, for the most part. He ranks 95th in average exit velocity and 92nd in hard-hit rate, per Baseball Savant. The only drawback is Bote only ranks in the 27th percentile for whiff rate, and his walk rate has also gone down.
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In any case, Bote has shown he can be a major contributor to a playoff team. At the same time, his seemingly high upside and positional versatility are mired by the rather ugly swing-and-miss rates.
So, in other words, maybe the Cubs should dangle Bote to see what his value is on the open market.
Right now, such an idea seems incredibly unlikely considering a wrist injury hampers Kris Bryant, and the Cubs desperately need to jumpstart the offense.
But the Cubs have limited assets to offer as they hope to bolster the bullpen in the later innings, making Bote an intriguing guy to watch.
Bote is in just the first year of a five-year extension he signed with the Cubs last season. The deal pays Bote $3 million in annual average value (though the 2020 salary is pro-rated), and also has club options for both 2025 and 2026. In other words, Bote is a very controllable asset.
The Cubs might be able to entice an opposing team with Bote given his advanced hitting stats and team-friendly contract, which is pretty essential, seeing as they have limited farm assets.
Sure, there is a chance someone like Miguel Amaya becomes involved as a trade piece. But the Cubs are not trading young pitchers like Adbert Alzolay or Brailyn Marquez, and they almost certainly will not be trading Brennen Davis, either.
Yet, it has become immensely clear they have a concrete need for another arm in the bullpen, even with the return of left-hander Jose Quintana on Tuesday night.
Quintana will need time to get back into the swing of things. Still, giving up three runs in three innings is not the best start. Moreover, Casey Sadler’s struggles continued on Tuesday, and decent outings from Kyle Ryan and Dan Winkler were somewhat obscured by the fact the Cubs were already down big.
This is all to say: Bote might be among the team’s most valuable trade chips in the pursuit of an impact reliever.
Might dealing Bote hurt the lineup in the short term? Perhaps, but the Cubs are not going anywhere if stars like Bryant, Javier Baez and Anthony Rizzo cannot perform, anyway.
At the very least, they might want to see what Bote’s value is around the league and whether he could help them acquire a late-game arm.