If the Chicago Cubs refuse to pony up for the top free agents every year, Jed Hoyer is going to have to find ways to build a sustainable contender - and it's unreasonable to think you can build a championship-quality roster just through internal prospect development.
Chicago has been virtually silent this winter, much to the dismay of a fanbase that went into the offseason anticipating major moves after the club poached manager Craig Counsell from the rival Brewers. But with the trade market expected to pick up steam after the holidays, we'll be paying especially close attention to names that are floated - and in this instance, we're looking at Miami left-hander Jesus Luzardo.
Luzardo, a former third-round pick, is drawing trade interest around the league as first-year Miami president of baseball ops Peter Bendix looks to put his mark on a Marlins team that won 84 games and made the postseason in 2023.
Last year, Luzardo made a career-high 32 starts and set a high-water mark with 178.2 innings pitched. It's not just that he ate innings, either - the southpaw was incredibly dependable, working to a 3.58 ERA and 3.55 FIP while punching out more than 10 per nine innings pitched. Paired with a strong showing in 2022, the 26-year-old has established himself well over the last two years: 50 starts with a 3.52 ERA and 1.154 WHIP.
Cubs, Marlins could match up well, address weaknesses in a trade
In need of adding some firepower to the offense, Miami and the Cubs could line up well in trade - especially if Hoyer decides to float Christopher Morel as a piece in the deal. Now, a straight one-for-one swap is unlikely, but with Luzardo as the main piece coming to Chicago and Morel going to Miami, both teams are addressing areas of need.
The big knock against trading Morel for someone like Tyler Glasnow (before the Dodgers quashed that dream) was the fact that Glasnow would hit free agency at the end of next season. But with three seasons of control left for Luzardo, trading Morel and his five years of control is at least a bit easier to swallow.
Hoyer has made it clear: he's not pillaging his revamped prospect system for rentals. But for a high-upside, controllable young piece like Luzardo, he'd likely be more intrigued at the possibilities.
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