On the heels of a one-hit, complete game shutout in his last start, Cubs right-hander Marcus Stroman is looking more and more like a Cy Young contender each time he takes the mound.
After publicly stating his desire to sign an extension with Chicago rather than hit free agency at year's end, there have been no talks between Jed Hoyer's front office and the former All-Star - and with the Cubs in last place in a weak National League Central, there's a solid chance the North Siders could be sellers come July for a third straight summer.
A new piece from The Athletic (subscription required) details the starting pitching trade market this year, noting its weakness - and how it could lead to a team like the Cubs shopping someone like Stroman who may very well be the most valuable arm available.
In 12 starts, including an MLB-best 10 quality starts, Stroman boasts a 2.7 bWAR, 0,986 WHIP and 5.9 H/9. He's been remarkably consistent in his second year in Chicago, anchoring the Cubs rotation alongside the recently-injured Justin Steele.
Marcus Stroman could be the most valuable trade chip the Cubs have
Pitching a midseason sell-off to an already irritated fanbase amidst a season the team was viewed as a potential contender would be harrowing grounds for Hoyer. But the thought of netting a massive return for a guy who could walk in free agency at the end of the year anyway could prove too enticing to pass up.
As the piece in The Athletic notes, the Steele injury and how that plays out could impact how the front office approaches shopping Stroman. On one hand, a potential loss of Steele leaves a gaping hole in the rotation, which makes Stroman even more important. Looking at the other side of the coin, losing Steele could be the nail in the Cubs' coffin, making a Stroman trade an even likelier possibility.
An update on Steele - and how the team plays on its road trip - will likely determine the path the front office takes this summer. But don't rule out the possibility of Marcus Stroman getting dealt because it's very much in the cards at this point.