For a team to be set up for success, it must have a strong farm system behind it. We saw what happened in 2016. Theo Epstein got the Chicago Cubs their first ring in 108 years. That’s certainly day in my life that I will never forget. Justifiably, it left us with little to no prospect depth moving forward. Post-World Series, we lost key prospects such as Gleyber Torres, Eloy Jimenez and Dylan Cease – all of whom have had success at the big league level who could be helping out immensely right now. Hindsight is 20/20 and let’s never forget; parades are cooler than prospects.
As we sit here in 2021, in order to re-tool and right the ship with a mass exodus looming at year’s end, we must strengthen the farm. It is a golden opportunity to do so. It’s not often that a team has three stars such as Kris Bryant, Javier Baez and Anthony Rizzo all reaching free agency simultaneously . The haul you could get for trading at least Baez or Bryant in packages coupled with other Cubs prospects or depth pieces in a trade is fascinating to think about.
It’s so easy as fans for us to say “No, not Baez, please.” “No, not KB!” “Not Rizzo!!” The fact is, if Tom Ricketts wants to open the checkbook to extend all three of these guys, there is two important things to keep in mind.
For one, realistically, this team is currently a long ways off from being on pace for another World Series. The core we have isn’t leading us anywhere at this point in time. A lot of that is due to starting pitching, whose struggles is now starting to cause wear and tear on a bullpen that has been the Cubs’ greatest strength for much of the year. It’s also the lack of consistency from the offense. That falls on guys like Rizzo, Baez and Bryant. I hate having to speak uncomplimentary of any Cub, ever, but it’s painful to admit: I would not be willing to pay anybody $200 million to bat .230-.240 and lead the league in strikeouts either. That’s just my opinion when I put my heart aside.
For two, if you don’t trade at least Baez and Bryant, or Bryant and Kimbrel in separate trade packages as mentioned above, you’re really ruining an absolutely amazing chance to strengthen your farm system and have team-friendly contracts for guys who will become your new core.
Trading at least two of your top guys now that are likely to walk at the end of the year anyway will open up many financial windows in the offseason as well. At that point; if Ricketts truly cares about the Cubs winning, with all the money that would come off the books this year, he simply will have no excuse to not pay for the top free agents available this winter. Lord knows, there’s plenty to choose from.
For reference, let’s quickly glance at the Tampa Bay Rays. The Rays are in the bottom two in terms of market value teams in baseball. Regardless, they find themselves consistently battling for first place in their division with a recent World Series appearance in 2020 and also boast the top farm system in baseball with five prospects in the top 100. How is this possible? Because they made the right moves for the betterment of the team moving forward at the right time and now It’s all coming to fruition. Exactly what the Chicago Cubs need to do in this critical time.
Let’s now analyze one key trade the Cubs should make and one trade they should avoid.