The second half of the season gets started on Friday night at Wrigley Field, with the Cubs welcoming the Boston Red Sox in for a weekend series. The task at-hand for this team? Come out of the All-Star Break strong and firmly cement itself as buyers leading up to the Aug. 1 trade deadline.
Chicago has a lot going for them: they boast the best run differential in the division which, in and of itself is a benefit given how weak the NL Central is this year. With the Pirates' hot start now a distant memory and the Cardinals ticketed for a sell-off with an eye on returning to contention in 2024, it's a three-team race between the Cubs, Brewers and Reds.
Buying could help the North Siders leap frog Milwaukee and Cincinnati. Here are six potential trade targets, ranked from most likely to least likely - the type of long shot that would shake the baseball world to its foundations.
6 Cubs trade targets, ranked most likely to least likely: #6 - Dominic Smith
No, this isn't just a re-print of the same piece from a year ago (although Dominic Smith was mentioned as a Cubs trade target last summer, as well). Jed Hoyer has to address the corner infield spots, especially first base, at the deadline if this team is going to win the division.
Smith represents a left-handed bat with some pop that won't require Jed Hoyer to come off any high-value talent. A former first-rounder, he's only really shown what he can do on a regular basis one time, back in 2020, with he put up a .993 OPS in the shortened campaign.
Adding Smith wouldn't block top prospect Matt Mervis, who will surely get another crack at the big league job this summer, long-term, while adding a left-handed, low-cost bat to the mix. Is it sexy? No. Is it a move that's going to move the needle substantially? Again, probably not. That means it's something that could very well happen before Aug. 1.