Good problems to have - 1. Who the Cubs should keep, and who to trade
This is primarily concerned with the Cubs' growing number of outfield prospects in their farm system. Crow-Armstrong, Alexander Canario, Owen Caissie, and Kevin Alcantara are four names that all add serious value to a trade package. However, moving one or even two before someone works out at the major league level won't happen.
The outfielders aren't the only log-jammed position, either. Not being talked about enough are the guys such as Luis Vazquez or James Triantos, who broke into MLB Pipelines' top 100 this winter. Both infielders have nowhere to go in the Cubs organization at the MLB level. Triantos is much younger and likely a couple of years away, but a solid season from Vazquez has him deserving a shot without a position to play. The hope is that Nico Hoerner, Dansby Swanson, Matt Shaw, and Michael Busch will crowd the Infield for years. If that's the case, it's hard not to envision Triantos or Vazquez as tradeable assets if they play well this season.
Ultimately, I don't foresee the team making a blockbuster trade this winter. I see Hoyer further evaluating what he has across all levels this season and envisioning what makes the most sense regarding the Cubs' timeline of expiring contracts, coupled with the ETA of specific prospects.
For example, If Kevin Alcantara and Owen Caissie do great this year, Caissie has the higher value because he's closer to MLB status. Still, since Caissie is more blocked the next few years than Alcantara with Ian Happ and Seiya Suzuki around, it makes sense for the team to hold on to the guy who has a path forward down the road, even if he's a couple of years further away. It's the same with Vazquez vs. Triantos if Hoerner hits free agency when his contract expires.
In the best-case scenario, Crow-Armstrong will hit his stride in 2024. Then, guys like Caissie and Canario can confidently be thrown in as part of a package at the trade deadline this year for another top-tier ace in the rotation. Still, don't expect Hoyer to pull the trigger on a trade just yet before being fully confident in his vision for the future and seeing it pan out at the highest level. It won't be until prospects start producing for the Cubs that we can really start entertaining blockbuster trades. These are all good problems to have. Slowly but surely, the Cubs are inching their way to a sustainable, long-term playoff run.