Everyone – and I mean everyone – is focused on the Cubs and every conceivable free agent signing Jed Hoyer and Carter Hawkins might try to pull off this winter. But Chicago isn’t going to address every roster need via signing and we shouldn’t lose sight of the trade market.
This is particularly true when it comes to starting pitching. Sure, there are guys like Jacob deGrom and Justin Verlander at the top of the free agent market, but the Cubs aren’t shopping for rentals to top the rotation. This is where the trade market comes into play. So which guys could be on Hoyer’s radar? Let’s take a look.
Cubs: 3 big starting pitching trade targets – #3: Pablo Lopez
In recent years, the Miami Marlins have been rather lackluster, with the exception of the shortened 2020 season, when they swept the Cubs right out of the postseason in the first round. The Marlins also regularly sit in the bottom portion of the league in terms of payroll and that trend continued in 2022.
Given five of the Marlins’ top 10 prospects are pitchers and a pretty solid mix of arms at the big league level, the team could look to move right-hander Pablo Lopez, who was rumored to be on the block this at the deadline this summer. A team like the Cubs could put together a deal without seriously depleting their own farm system, offering up position player talent for the Miami starter in a win-win scenario.
This season, Lopez pitched a career-high 180 innings, finishing with a 3.75 ERA, which doesn’t seem too appealing until you take a deeper dive. Lopez actually registered a 2.86 ERA in his first 104 frames this season before dropping off with a 4.97 ERA in the second half. If it weren’t for Sandy Alcantara ahead of him, he probably would have earned All-Star honors as the team’s representative in Los Angeles.
Though the second decline is discouraging, Lopez owns a 3.52 ERA over the last three seasons. Obviously, the Cubs shouldn’t push all their chips in on a guy like this if they’re looking for a bona fide ace, but early this year, Lopez showed what he’s capable of when he’s at his best.
If he can find any consistency at all and build on his early 2022 showing moving forward, he could very well be a solid back up option for the Cubs to target if they miss on the guys at the top of their list. He’s not a sure-fire bet for ace material, but at just 26 years old, his big breakout season could still be coming and his potential is still through the roof. He would be the cheapest of the three options on this list.