If you’re a Cubs fan thinking big after the Mike Clevinger trade, be ready for disappointment.
In recent years, Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer have made some pretty significant additions ahead of the trade deadline. In 2016, the Cubs sent a package of prospects – headlined by Gleyber Torres – to the Bronx in exchange for Aroldis Chapman. The next year, Chicago brought in Justin Wilson and Alex Avila from the Tigers and made the infamous Jose Quintana swap with the White Sox.
In 2018, big left-hander Cole Hamels was supposed to be the missing piece to the puzzle. Instead, the Cubs collapsed in September and wound up getting eliminated at home in the NL Wild Card Game. And last, but not least, Epstein added Nicholas Castellanos last summer. The outfielder thrived at the Friendly Confines, but it wasn’t enough to push the team back to the postseason.
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Knowing all this, it’s easy to expect the front office to pull another rabbit out of its hat ahead of Monday afternoon’s trade deadline. But I’m here to tell you – it’s not going to happen.
The Cubs are caught in limbo – between being a team that’s ready to contend now and one that’s become tied down by its past successes. Most of the team’s core will hit free agency in the next two years – and Epstein and Hoyer now must look beyond this group toward the next era for the organization.
Heading into Monday’s off-day, Chicago sits in first place in the National League Central. FanGraphs pegs their postseason chances at 96.8 percent – the third highest odds in the Senior Circuit. Still, this team has some glaring issues – namely an offense that lives or dies via the long-ball and a pitching staff that makes you feel like you’re at the roulette wheel on a nightly basis.
Would adding an ace make the Cubs better? Obviously. But it isn’t going to happen. We watched the surging San Diego Padres pull off several notable deals in the last 24 hours, headlined by their acquisition of Cleveland ace Mike Clevinger on Monday morning.
The right-hander will slot in atop the Friars’ rotation alongside Chris Paddack and give San Diego a real chance to make some noise come October. That’s how the power landscape has shifted in the game. Teams like the Padres, who followed the Cubs’ recipe for rebuilding under GM AJ Preller, are emerging – ready to ride their young talent to a title, just like Chicago did back in 2016.
The Cubs went out and traded for former Cardinals slugger Jose Martinez in a deal with Tampa Bay over the weekend. Historically strong against lefties, Martinez should help boost an offense that’s been increasingly inconsistent as the season’s progressed. He’s also likely to be one of the higher profile names the team adds before the deadline.
More big names might change hands – but it seems like a safe bet none of them will be coming to the North Side of Chicago.