With the attention of the sport currently focused on All-Star Week festivities in Denver, it almost lulls you into a false sense of security when it comes to what the next few weeks will hold for the Chicago Cubs.
In a matter of weeks, this roster could be downright unrecognizable to fans – with potential trades of Kris Bryant, Javier Baez, Craig Kimbrel, Anthony Rizzo and just about every other player on the roster very much in the realm of possibility.
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Bryant, though, seems like he could be the most sought-after position player in all of baseball ahead of the deadline. He’s bounced back from a rough month of June and leads the Cubs with an .874 OPS – all while playing five positions regularly. A former MVP with this level of versatility will undoubtedly fetch a commanding return and you can bet that Jed Hoyer is already fielding calls on his star.
So who’s the best match? That’s completely dependent on what would come back in a deal, but while we’ve focused largely on the NL East (Atlanta, New York) or even the crosstown-rival White Sox, Hoyer might be best served circling back to the Padres – the same team he dealt last year’s NL Cy Young runner-up, Yu Darvish, to last winter.
San Diego closed out the first half 13 games over .500 but in third place in a hotly-contested NL West, six games back of the first-place San Francisco Giants. Gabe Kapler’s club has shocked the baseball world this season with their play and, along with the reigning World Series champion Dodgers, pose a major hurdle in the Padres’ quest to return to the postseason in 2021.
Chicago Cubs: A Kris Bryant trade could fix multiple holes for the Padres
Injuries have started to pile up for San Diego, too – especially on the pitching side of things. While Bryant can’t remedy that issue for Friars skipper Jayce Tingler, he could provide some pop in lieu of the inconsistency the team has received from guys like Wil Myers, Jurickson Profar and Ha-Seong Kim.
The fact that he can move between the infield and outfield makes him an ideal fit for almost any team and the Padres are no exception. But where I see these two teams aligning is two-fold. Bryant can be the missing piece for San Diego’s offense and the Cubs could package someone like Zach Davies in the deal to help add some needed insurance.
You could even see AJ Preller shoring up the bullpen given the shakiness on the pitching side, taking a 2015 Kansas City Royals-like route to October, adding an Andrew Chafin or Ryan Tepera to a bullpen anchored by Mark Melancon. One thing’s for sure, though: in such a deal, you won’t see the Padres escaping with all their top 10 prospects intact like they did in the Darvish trade.