With all the talk of the Cubs digging deep as they explore potential trades to upgrade the roster, we must remember how rare major offseason trades have been for the team in recent years. The last time Chicago made a substantial offseason trade was way back in 2016, sending power-hitting outfielder (and current free agent) Jorge Soler to the Kansas City Royals in return for closer Wade Davis.
Soler had one great year in 2019 with the Royals, hitting 48 homers and driving in 117 runs. The production could have helped the Cubs in 2019, but Davis' 2.30 ERA and 32 saves helped propel the Cubs back to the postseason. Most notably, Davis struck out Bryce Harper in the final at-bat of the crazy 2017 NLDS to send the Cubs to their third straight NLCS appearance.
That trade went down seven years ago. Trades just aren't as common as they once were - especially in terms of major blockbusters. Clubs guard their top prospects more closely than ever before, but Chicago's farm system is deeper than it's been in nearly a decade. Hopefully, Jed Hoyer can pull another one over on all of us like he did when he snagged longtime Brewers manager Craig Counsell early in the offseason and make a big-time splash.
Who are the most interesting players the Cubs could target via trade?
A number of high-profile starting pitchers are available on the trade market. Shane Bieber, Dylan Cease and Corbin Burnes are available for the right price. Burnes seems unlikely, given the recent poaching of Counsell, along with the NL Central rivalry between the Cubs and Brewers. Cease is an intriguing option, especially given the lack of available starting pitching next winter.
Bieber makes the most sense, as he only has one year left on his contract and won't tear the Cubs farm to shreds. After an injury-prone, Tyler Glasnow was traded for a return headlined by Ryan Pepiot; it will be interesting to see what the Cleveland Guardians will want in return for Bieber, given his expected arbitration figure is half that of Glasnow's 2024 salary.
Speaking of Cleveland, we've seen loose rumors connecting the Cubs to first baseman Josh Naylor and closer Emmanuel Clase, but there hasn't been anything concrete there. The second half of the winter, though, will hopefully bring the end to this seven-year trade drought as Hoyer reshapes the roster for a 2024 run.