After suffering a sweep at the hands of the Angels, the Chicago Cubs are now a full 10 games under .500 - and the next couple weeks will determine the team's position at the trade deadline as either sellers or buyers.
Marcus Stroman represents, by far, the Cubs' most valuable potential trade chip. The veteran right-hander is all but guaranteed to opt out at the end of the year and is in the midst of a career year on the North Side, establishing himself as a legitimate Cy Young candidate with a league-best 1.000 WHIP and 11 quality starts.
But behind Stroman and Justin Steele, left-hander Drew Smyly has been incredibly consistent for Chicago. After a clunker in his season debut, the veteran has a 2.95 ERA in 11 starts. The only team that's gotten to him is the division-rival Reds, who have roughed him up for 11 of the 26 earned runs he's allowed this year.
Cubs can't afford not to trade Drew Smyly if freefall continues
Re-signed to a one-year, $8 million deal with a mutual option for 2024 last offseason, Smyly has proven to be a valuable commodity in a Cubs rotation that's been feast (Stroman/Steele) or famine (Wesneski/Taillon) through the first two-plus months of the year.
There will undoubtedly be contenders looking to bolster their rotation ahead of the trade deadline in early August - and a good many of them might balk at what an ace like Stroman or someone like Dylan Cease might demand in terms of prospects. Enter the Cubs and Smyly, who carries zero long-term risk or financial commitment.
Should the Cubs unload both Stroman and Smyly, we could be in for a very trying second half with a rotation left in shambles. But Jed Hoyer and Carter Hawkins can ill-afford to not move someone like Smyly if the team falls further out of contention, especially if it nets them a long-term asset in the process.