3 potential Cubs trade targets if the Houston Astros wind up sellers

In last place in the AL West heading into the weekend, the Astros' run of dominance may be nearing an end and could prompt the front office to sell at the trade deadline.
Houston Astros v Washington Nationals
Houston Astros v Washington Nationals / Scott Taetsch/GettyImages
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Houston Astros GM Dana Brown says he 'can't envision' a scenario where his team is sellers at the trade deadline this summer. But even with a win on Thursday, the Astros are 11 games under .500 and in last place in the American League West, positioning themselves with a steep uphill climb over the next two months.

Should this franchise's recent run of dominance finally reach its end this summer, Brown will find no shortage of interest in his roster from teams looking to add for a postseason push down the stretch. The Chicago Cubs hope to be among those teams in a position to buy come July and, if the Astros can't figure things out, a few guys stand out as potential trade targets.

Justin Verlander would bring a postseason pedigree to the rotation

The Cubs have a lot to like when it comes to their young arms. Justin Steele just returned from a month-plus stint on the IL and looked sharp, Javier Assad has quietly been the best starting pitcher in baseball over the last calendar year and Hayden Wesneski and Jordan Wicks have both shown what they have to offer, as well.

That doesn't even factor in Jameson Taillon, who returned from the IL and has run off four consecutive shutdown starts to open his 2024 campaign or top pitching prospect Cade Horton who, after earning a promotion to Triple-A recently, is knocking on the door to Wrigley.

But the only man with any substantive postseason experience among the team's potential rotation pieces is Kyle Hendricks, who is set to make another rehab start at Iowa this weekend and has looked like a shell of his former self in 2024. Going out and adding Verlander, a three-time Cy Young Award winner with more than 225 career postseason innings under his belt could be a solution there.

Those who caution against such a move, though, would point to his age (he turned 41 in February), diminishing stuff and a $35 million vesting option for 2025 should he throw 140 innings this year. That being said, the idea of Verlander in October one last time may prove too tempting for the Cubs to pass on.