Cubs Rumors: Will Chicago look to trade for Gold Glover Nick Ahmed?
By Jake Misener
If the Chicago Cubs are going to find success in 2022 with the starting pitching staff Jed Hoyer has assembled, it’ll take a bounceback campaign from the team defensively.
Nico Hoerner is returning from injury and was a National League Gold Glove finalist at second base in 2020. But with the addition of Nick Madrigal, who is also returning from an injury-shortened season a year ago, it stands to reason Hoerner will be the one moving off of second, potentially shifting over to shortstop or even getting rep in center field. Really, it depends how the roster fills out once the lockout ends.
Prior to the still-ongoing standoff between the league and the players, Chicago was drawing attention as a lead contender for Carlos Correa. But since then, the former AL Rookie of the Year dumped his agency, joined the Boras Corporation and a report emerged saying he was looking for at least $330 million in his next contract. Given the Cubs’ reported hesitance to go beyond seven years, that sum looks awfully unlikely to come from the Ricketts family.
So, assuming Correa winds up elsewhere, Hoyer could look at a different approach when rounding out his 26-man roster. According to NJ.com and MLBTR, a potential trade target could come from the Arizona Diamondbacks in the form of infielder Nick Ahmed.
Ahmed, who turns 32 in March, is coming off a brutal showing with the lowly Diamondbacks in which he batted a dismal .221/.280/.339 across 473 plate appearances. For those of you wondering, that works out to a 67 OPS+ and 64wRC+. Even so, he still finished as a 0.7 WAR player – strictly from his defense alone.
That’s exactly why the Cubs could be interested in the veteran. There’s a lot of questions when it comes to Hoerner and Madrigal given they’re both coming off serious injuries – and this is about as reliable defensively as a backup or platoon partner comes.
Here’s what MLBTR noted when evaluating Ahmed as a potential trade chip, while also mentioning the Yankees, Phillies and Astros as other hypothetical suitors:
"The Cubs might take a flyer on Ahmed to bolster the young and injury-prone up-the-middle duo of Nico Hoerner and Nick Madrigal. Both young infielders are natural second baseman, and both are coming off injury-ravaged seasons. Ahmed would find playing time as Hoerner gets moved around the diamond, and he could serve as insurance should one of the pair end up back in the trainer’s room."
Fans having their hearts set on Correa will no doubt be irate over if the Cubs do wind up pulling the trigger on an Ahmed trade – but it’s an imperfect world. He’s a high quality defender and would be an immediate answer for one of the team’s biggest shortcomings from a year ago.
That being said, I can’t say taking on the remaining two years and $18.25 million of Ahmed’s contract would make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside, but given where the Diamondbacks are (they lost 110 games last season), seeing him on the block wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest -regardless of whether or not Chicago has interest.