In less than two says, the trade deadline ends. That just seems very abrupt in what has been the quietest trade deadline ever. The Cubs did make a splash acquiring Aroldis Chapman, but that has been the only big name to switch teams. On the other hand, a lot can happen between now and Monday.
As for the Cubs, I’m expecting them to make a deal and I’m also not expecting them to make a deal. While some have called for the addition of Josh Reddick, I think the Cubs go in the other direction and acquire a starting pitcher. Ideally, the Cubs could acquire a starting pitcher for beyond this year. So, in other words, they go and get someone who is a AA or AAA pitcher and basically exchange prospects.
One name that is been bandied about is Jose de Leon from the Dodgers. Blake Snell of Tampa Bay is a second option. The Braves have several arms the Cubs could acquire in exchange for position players, a weakness in their system after Swanson and Albies. In fact, I think the Cubs could get two arms from Atlanta in exchange for some talent that is close to the major-league level.
The main reason I suggest this type of trade is that the Cubs will begin to lose their starting rotation over the next 14 months.
Hammel – Option for 2017
Arrieta – free agent after 2017
Lackey – free agent after 2017
Hendricks – controlled through 2020
Lester – controlled through 2020 with options
Sooner or later, the Cubs will have to get more pitching, and likely sooner. With a dried up free agent market this winter, trading for young, controllable pitching might be the best option for the team in the short and long term. It could happen this weekend, or it could happen this winter
Right now, Brian Matusz is one option for next year. The Cubs are rebuilding the young lefty this year. Another, Duane Underwood struggled with injuries at AA and will likely begin the year in Tennessee again in 2017, hopefully as a starter. There are some pitchers who could start at the back end of the rotation late in the year next year. They include Ryan Williams and the newly acquired Jordan Pries. However, most of the Cubs’ best pitching prospects are still years away in some form of A and rookie ball and range anywhere from 17 to 21 years old.
Granted, the acquisition of a young, controllable arm is not urgent, and it could draw assets away from acquiring a player to help win a World Series this year. Then again, the Cubs have shown the ability to go find pitching cheaply and rehabilitate the pitcher into a usable asset.
However, the Cubs have also shown a penchant of paying for starters and they cannot keep handing out large contracts to every arm. It will be interesting over the next year to see how the Cubs handle the end of Jake Arrieta’s deal, and his agent, Scott Boras. Likely, Boras will advocate Jake that he should test free agency.
Whatever the case, in one year and two months, the Cubs will only have two starting pitchers under contract at the major league level. They can get a pitcher now, or they can get one later. They still are going to need more than one.