3 players the Cubs can't trade under any circumstances: #2 - Justin Steele
The next player the Cubs should not trade is Justin Steele. Steele really came into his own in 2022. His record is not an indication of how well he pitched. Although he was 4-7, the lefty had a 3.18 ERA and he averaged just over a strikeout per inning. One thing the Cubs would love Steele to improve is his batting average against. However, he is only 27, and his ceiling is very high. Our very own Michael Brakebill describes how Steele can continue his 2022 second half success here.
With Kyle Hendricks (hopefully) making his way back in the rotation in 2023 after being hurt and ineffective in 2022, Marcus Stroman leading the pack and Drew Smyly signing a deal to stay in Chicago, Steele slots in at the number 3-4 slot with the upside of a number two. The left-hander started every appearance he had last year, so it is hard to believe that he will take on a bullpen role as he did in his rookie year. Stroman, Hendricks and Smyly are not going to be in Chicago after 2024 (unless there are extensions), so Steele is going to have to be the heart of the rotation in the not-so-distant future.
When it comes to a trade, the Cubs have plenty of other pitchers that could be of value. As it is with the outfield, Chicago's pitching prospects are some of the best. Wesneski, Javier Assad, Caleb Killian, Jordan Wicks and Keegan Thompson could all be valuable chips for Jed Hoyer. Thompson is not so much a prospect anymore, but he has the starting pitching trade value clubs may be looking for. Steele will be entering his age-27 season and he has plenty of team control left. This should just be the start of his tenure at the Confines.