While the national narrative still views the Chicago Cubs as sellers as the Major League Baseball Trade Deadline approaches on August 1, locally, the tune has shifted as it is now believed that, at the very least, the Cubs will keep their current roster in place as they look to make a post-season.
Status quo for the Cubs should not be the answer at the deadline.
With their play over the past week and dating back to the second week of June, the Cubs have provided the front office with a reason to buy at the deadline. If the Cubs do buy, we are starting to hear of the potential targets they have in mind.
Colorado Rockies' first baseman CJ Cron feels like an ideal target for a Cubs team that will also have a need for a late-inning reliever in the bullpen.
One need that shouldn't be overlooked for the Cubs at the deadline is the need that they have in the starting rotation for the long term. It would seem that the Cubs are not interested in re-signing Marcus Stroman and that could ultimately be the reason why he is moved at the deadline.
If the Cubs move Stroman but hope to remain in contention, the team is going to need to address the rotation. That was the premise of Mark Feinsand's latest for MLB dot com when he addressed what each team needs to do at the deadline.
"Cubs: Controllable starting pitching- Mark Feinsand via MLB dot com
If the Cubs opt to sell, they should be able to get a good return for Marcus Stroman and/or Cody Bellinger. The rotation figures to be a focus given Stroman’s likely trade or opt out, and the uncertainty surrounding Kyle Hendricks, who has a $16 million club option for 2024. Drew Smyly is also only signed through 2024 with a $10 million mutual option that is unlikely to be exercised."
The three certainties for the Cubs' rotation in 2024 appear to be Justin Steele, Kyle Hendricks, and Jameson Taillon. The hope is that one of Ben Brown, Hayden Wesneski, Cade Horton, or Jordan Wicks could also be a factor but Wesneski's struggles this season have highlighted the risk of counting on a rookie starting pitcher to find success right away.
That would be the reason why a Stroman should not be ruled out. A potential Stroman need would not be a repeat of the Yu Darvish trade after the 2020 season. If the Cubs are able to acquire cost-controlled starting pitching in a deal for Stroman, that is likely a trade that the team will make.