Cubs: Who will stay, who will go when it comes to the core?

(Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
(Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images) /

Will this be the offseason the Cubs finally pull the trigger on an impact trade?

Already this offseason, we’ve seen all kinds of speculation surrounding the Cubs and trade possibilities. With just one year of team control left over guys like Kyle Schwarber, Javier Baez, Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo – this core group has been mentioned in the bulk of trade rumors. Of course, Ian Happ and Willson Contreras have gotten in on the mix, as well.

Heck, even Yu Darvish is in the conversation, and he’s a finalist for the National League Cy Young Award. With owners losing money due to the COVID-19 pandemic and zero fans in the stands throughout this year? The financial picture is not good.

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We’ve seen rumors and proposals regarding Darvish on the New York Mets side of the equation, most notably Joel Sherman. An 8-3 record, 2.01 ERA and 93 strikeouts in 76 innings pitched? It’s not going to happen. That’s all I have to say about that.

Schwarber has long been pretty high up on the trade speculation list. This year, he hit just .188 – but with an 88 OPS+ he wasn’t quite as bad as you might think. Still with a .204 ISO, he needs to get his tail going. Otherwise, it’ll be the end of the line.

And as for Bryant, he hit for a 121 OPS+ or higher for five years. This year, that plummeted to a 73. He had a slash of .206/.293/.351 with an OPS of .644. Could a trade be happening? Maybe, but I doubt it.

He had a BABIP of .331 or higher in his first five years. Now it’s down to .264. While the Cubs would undoubtedly like to cut payroll, you’d definitely be selling low on a lot of these guys, especially Bryant. I think they’ll let him work his way through the first half of 2021 and see where he stands before actively shopping him.

Rizzo? What can I say? He’s money here in Chicago. With the Cubs, he’s had a slash line of .274/.374/.492 with an OPS of .866, with an OPS+ of 131 for nine years. He’s a Cub, hands down. And even if he leaves here somehow? He’s one of those guys who will always be thought of as a Cub for life.

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I didn’t mention Baez because I think he winds up signing an extension. Call it wishful thinking, but I think he would. And Happ isn’t a free agent until 2024, so I think they’ll hold on to him. But Schwarber and Bryant? Change is needed and, despite their struggles, both have a lot of upside that could drum up interest this winter.