The trade deadline is fast approaching, and Chase Strumpf is seen as the ‘most tradable prospect’ in the Chicago Cubs system.
Prospecting is a tough baseball angle and even more challenging in striking gold when trying to acquire talent. Talent-laden teams with deep systems such as the San Diego Padres, Seattle Mariners, and Los Angeles Dodgers come to mind regarding an ability to move pieces without worry.
The Chicago Cubs have vastly improved their system in the past couple of years. They have graduated former 2018 first-round pick, Nico Hoerner, to the majors and have a bevy of talent waiting for their opportunity in the form of outfielder Brennen Davis, catcher Miguel Amaya, and starting pitcher Brailyn Marquez.
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Chase Strumpf, the Cubs’ second-round pick out of UCLA in 2019, currently ranks as the number five overall prospect. In a piece from MLB.com’s Jim Callis, Strumpf was listed as Chicago’s ‘most tradable’ prospect.
In terms of prospect value and depth, the club selected high school standout and Chicago-area native Ed Howard in this year’s MLB draft, in the first round. Howard, of course, is a shortstop. Superstar Javier Baez is manning the current state of the shortstop position, and, with the emergence of Hoerner, it seems Strumpf is now expendable.
It in itself may very well be true. The Cubs expect to keep Báez long-term, and with Hoerner, as the future everyday second baseman, it does not seem to make much sense for the Cubs to keep Strumpf, significantly if they can leverage value in a trade.
Strumpf saw action at three levels in his first year of professional baseball. He struggled to a .182 average in 32 plate appearances in rookie ball but still managed to post a 117 wRC+. Most of his time in 2019 was spent at Class-A South Bend, where there 22-year-old slashed .292/.405/.449, two home runs, 14 RBI, and posted a 146 wRC+.
Unfortunately, circumstances with a back injury derailed Strumpf’s first season. Although Strumpf did return, he slashed .189/.302/.283 and was not a part of South Bend’s run to the Midwest League Championship.
As with many prospects around this year’s deadline, the biggest issue with Strumpf is the appropriate value. He ranks as the number five prospect in the system. He has displayed an impressive demeanor at the plate in just one professional season, and any deal involving Strumpf will undoubtedly require significant league level talent.
Expectations across the league are that this may well be a quiet deadline. A truncated season doesn’t force the hand of clubs like that of a full season. Another challenge the Cubs face is figuring the terms of a long-term deal with Báez. The star shortstop is not a free agent until 2022 when he turns 29. Thankfully because of that control relative to his age, it would be surprising to see a team invest an asinine amount of money in his services.
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If the Cubs cannot square up a deal with Báez, however, and he does walk, there needs to be depth for the next man. In a corona virus free world, trading Strumpf would make a lot more sense. Sadly, this is not that world. Not yet. The Cubs need to ride the Strumpf wave and hope he can continue to develop into a big-league starter a couple of years down the line.