Cubs need to focus on prospects, not big leaguers, in any trades

Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports)
Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports) /

With the trade deadline just one day away, the Chicago Cubs have to be smart in their process. If they decide to sell off their top trade chips, they cannot afford to settle for current MLB pieces that do not provide much of a ceiling, especially if they plan on competing in the near future.

The most valuable asset in any trade package as a seller is a top-flight prospect or a combination of prospects that can either contribute in the future or be part of a package for another trade later on. Unless the Cubs are making an unexpected play for Juan Soto at the deadline, they should have their sights set on developmental pieces.

Of course, there is the option of taking on an MLB salary in order to acquire a top prospect but that is not the point of this piece. Taking on Eric Hosmer in order to land a top prospect from San Diego would be a solid move since Hosmer would not be the main focal point of the return.

The Chicago Cubs have to prioritize prospects in trades

When it comes to MLB players that have been linked to the Cubs lately, there is nothing to be excited about. Trading David Robertson for a package that is led by Dominic Smith from the Mets would be an absolute disaster.

Smith offers little to no upside and his bat has become a liability this season. Sure, the Cubs could use some help at first base but this guy is not the answer. Smith currently boasts a slash line of .194/.276/.284 with a whopping .560 OPS.

After an incredible 2020 season, things have taken a disastrous turn for Smith. The Cubs should do everything in their power to avoid taking him as the prize of a trade for Robertson, Contreras or Happ. If he gets into the mix as part of a trade for Mychal Givens or Patrick Wisdom, then so be it.

The Tampa Bay Rays have been a team to watch in regards to Contreras as the deadline draws closer. They have some fascinating prospects that might not be realistic given the rental aspect of the three-time All-Star catcher but who are worth pursuing over their big league talent.

If the Cubs cannot fetch Xavier Edwards, Greg Jones or Sandy Gaston, they should look elsewhere for a trade partner for Contreras. The other option would be to package Contreras and Wisdom into a deal with the Rays in order to bring back one of those minor league prospects, which would be a nice little deal for the Cubs.

The New York Yankees have a history of dealing with the Cubs and they should once again be in the mix for a number of Cubs. Happ and Contreras would provide extra bats to the lineup while Robertson could be an option in the bullpen after the recent injury to Michael King.

New York is loaded with pipeline potential that the Cubs should be salivating over once again. After nabbing a handful of prospects for Anthony Rizzo last summer, the Cubs are looking to do the same this time around.

The most prized target for the Cubs, in my opinion, is left-hander Ken Waldichuk, a dominating starter in Triple-A that can be the key piece in fixing Chicago’s rotation.

That would be the dream but it is also probably unrealistic unless the Yankees get desperate all of the sudden, which looks highly unlikely. Other prospects to watch include Alexander Vargas, Luis Medina and Oswaldo Cabrera.

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There will be suitors for the Cubs’ top available trade targets. The pathway to returning to the postseason would be to take a chance on a package of prospects in hopes of flipping them for MLB talent in 2023 at the deadline or in the offseason of 2024.