Cubs: What comes next for the pen after the Andrew Chafin trade?

(Photo by Adam Hunger/Getty Images)
(Photo by Adam Hunger/Getty Images) /

The trade deadline is rapidly approaching and the Chicago Cubs have already entered sell mode. First, the team sent outfielder Joc Pederson to the Atlanta Braves earlier this month. Then, Chicago traded bullpen arm Andrew Chafin to the Oakland A’s  late Monday night.

That move helps the Athletics shore up their bullpen in the thick of a heated race for the AL West crown. It also leaves a big hole on the Cubs roster, with the departure of one of the go-to guys in David Ross’ bullpen mix.

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Chafin, 31, was acquired from the Arizona Diamondbacks at last year’s trade deadline, despite being on the injured list at the time. In last year’s COVID-19 abbreviated season, Chafin made a total of four appearances before hitting the free agent market once more. Though it was a small sample size, Chicago was impressed with Chafin, and the two agreed to a one-year contract for 2021. Looking back, this deal obviously worked out well for the North Siders, as Chafin was having an outstanding season before this trade.

In 2021, Chafin posted a 2.06 ERA in 43 appearances, and he has been one of the league’s best left-handed set-up men. One of his best and most memorable outings was when he threw the eighth inning in the Cubs’ June 24 combined no-hitter against the Los Angeles Dodgers. With all things considered, Chaffin’s trade value was incredibly high coming into this week, and it is not surprising that he was dealt. At the end of the day, the Cubs will save money on his salary and hopefully will get a lot out of the two prospects the team received in return from Oakland.

Chicago Cubs: What comes next for the pen after the Andrew Chafin trade?

Like I said, this move leaves questions about the current state of the Cubs bullpen and raises even more about who will get dealt before Friday’s deadline. It seems as if Jed Hoyer and the front office are not going in all-out rebuild mode. Meaning, the team will probably not deal the entirety of their core. However, probably one of Kris Bryant, Javier Baez, Anthony Rizzo, Craig Kimbrel and maybe even others have a chance of being traded.

Considering the haul Chicago received for Chafin, trading closer Craig Kimbrel could bring in an even more significant return of prospects or even major leaguers. On the other hand, the team could exercise the option in Kimbrel’s contract and bring him back next year.

With Chafin gone, the Cubs could continue to move more bullpen pieces, but they should also be careful about these moves as well. Kimbrel has been having a great season, and it would be a shame to see him continue his success elsewhere – especially if you feel you’re settling on the return in a trade.

Besides Kimbrel, other relievers that could be traded include Ryan Tepera and Dan Winkler. The other primary set-up man, Tepera, is another name that has been mentioned in trade rumors. He has had a great season so far, posting a 2.91 ERA in 43 appearances.

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Winkler, 31, has been another integral piece of this bullpen posting a 2.57 ERA across 40 games. The bottom line is there are just a few days left until Friday’s trade deadline, and the Cubs aren’t done yet. Who will stay and who will go will be determined soon enough.