Chicago Cubs: Top trade assets unlikely to be moved
The next three are also big question marks in terms of how the Cubs see them going forward.
Baez is still one of the best defensive shortstops in the game, and he makes things happen on the base paths. He also ranked dead-last among qualified hitters with a paltry .238 OBP.
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Regardless, the Cubs seem unlikely to trade “El Mago” because of his status as a fan favorite and indications he wants to remain in Chicago. It would seem wise of Epstein to at least explore his value, given the sheer quality of depth at the shortstop position in recent years.
Happ had a big year, hitting 12 homers and posting a 131 OPS+. He would figure to have value as a controllable asset, but the Cubs probably will not move him considering inconsistent outfield production in the past.
Contreras will be the key guy to watch. The 28-year-old is unquestionably one of the best players at a premium position. He also showed major improvement in terms of his pitch-framing, ranking in the 85th percentile this year, per Baseball Savant.
It would seem Contreras probably has the highest trade value of any player on the roster. But the Cubs might not be as comfortable dealing “Willy” given Victor Caratini’s struggles (.661 OPS) at the dish this season. Plus, Miguel Amaya still figures to be a couple of years away.
This offseason will be challenging for Theo, even if he hopes to shake things up. Epstein will probably be looking to move assets, but he also negotiates in bad faith if he fails to get an adequate return for these players in the final year of his own contract.
“Blow it up” might be hard to achieve this winter.