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5 Chicago Cubs trades with team sellers at MLB deadline

Matt Johnson
Chicago Cubs, Kris Bryant trade
Jun 25, 2021; Los Angeles, California, USA; Chicago Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant (17) rounds the bases after hitting a solo home run in the first inning of the game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

The Chicago Cubs entered the season widely expected to miss the MLB playoffs with the Yu Darvish trade seemingly waving the white flag. A surprising started changed the perception of this team, but the Cubs are becoming sellers with the MLB trade deadline approaching.

Things started off great for Chicago. Entering June 14, Chicago boasted a 38-27 record and Kris Bryant looked like an NL MVP candidate. But the wheels have fallen off ever since, evidenced by the team’s 4-15 record since that date.

As the Milwaukee Brewers and other NL contenders climb the MLB standings, Chicago slides further down. With iconic players set to hit the open market, let’s explore a few Chicago Cubs trades to help reset this team’s future.

Kris Bryant traded to New York Mets

Kris Bryant isn’t returning to Chicago next season. He doesn’t forget the blatant service time manipulation this organization used against him and there is no chance he offers to sign at a discount rate. The Cubs can either keep him and get a comp pick next year or move him for prospects this month. Jed Hoyer needs to choose the latter.

  • New York Mets trade: OF Pete Crow-Armstrong (NYM’s No. 5 prospect), RHP Jose Butto (NYM’s No. 15 prospect), IF Travis Blankenhorn (NYM’s No. 22 prospect)

Chicago isn’t landing a top prospect like Francisco Alvarez or Ronny Mauricio back, even right-handed pitcher Matt Allan might be a stretch. If the New York Mets are unwilling to deal Brett Baty, who is crushing the ball this season, the Cubs could settle for two top-10 prospect outside of the ‘core six” in New York’s farm system.

Ginn flashed top-20 talent before the 2020 MLB Draft but fell after undergoing Tommy John surgery. He is back on the mound and offers the potential to be a mid-rotation starter. Vientos, who has fallen behind Baty in the system, offers outstanding power potential and could be an impact bat if his hit tool develops.

Chicago Cubs send Craig Kimbrel to Houston Astros

Chicago Cubs, Craig Kimbrel trade
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

The career resurgence of Craig Kimbrel works out quite nicely for the Cubs. Through 30.2 innings this season, Kimbrel (0.59 ERA, 46.9% strikeout rate) has been the best closer in MLB. On pace to reach his vesting option, which would allow him to become a free agent this winter, now is the time to move the electric reliever.

  • Houston Astros acquire: Craig Kimbrel
  • Chicago Cubs acquire: RHP Hunter Brown (HOU’s No. 3 prospect), OF Colin Barber (HOU’s No. 7 prospect) and RHP Bryan Abreu

Even as a rental, there won’t be a shortage of World Series contenders interested in a Craig Kimbrel trade. The San Francisco Giants and Atlanta Braves jump out in the National League, but he might be the perfect fit for the Houston Astros. Hunter Brown isn’t a top-100 prospect right now, but that should change in 2022 rankings. Plus, this deal also provides the Cubs’ farm system with depth and an intriguing, young bullpen arm in Abreu.

Boston Red Sox acquire Anthony Rizzo

Chicago Cubs, Anthony Rizzo trade
Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

The Cubs haven’t done themselves any favors in regards to negotiations with Anthony Rizzo on a contract extension. Chicago’s first offer was laughable and it reached the point where the All-Star first baseman tuned everything out. If ownership isn’t willing to spend to make this team competitive and a rebuild is happening, Rizzo will leave this winter.

A return to where it all began would be fitting. The Boston Red Sox drafted Rizzo with a sixth-round pick in the 2007 MLB Draft, developed him into a top prospect and later dealt him to the San Diego Padres. More than a decade later, he is an ideal target for the Red Sox.

Entering July 5, Boston’s first baseman had the lowest OBP (.252), wRC+ (66) and the highest strikeout rate (34.3%) in MLB. While Rizzo is no longer at his peak, a .344 OBO, 115 wRC+ and 32 RBIs would be a monumental upgrade for Boston’s lineup. If the Red Sox are willing to eat the remaining $8 million owed and can package prospects with Bobby Dalbec, there could be a fit here.

Chicago Cubs trade Zach Davies to Tampa Bay Rays

Chicago Cubs
Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

With the Cubs prepared to sell off players on expiring contracts, Zach Davies joins a relatively thin market of starting pitching. The 28-year-old certainly hasn’t played up to being part of the return in the Yu Darvish trade, but at this point, the Cubs will take what they can get for him/

Davies holds a 2.86 ERA over his past 13 starts but teams will recognize a 4.41 FIP and 42/31 K/BB ratio across 69.1 innings are a better indicator of his skills. He provides the Tampa Bay rays with a back-end starter who can cover the first five innings of a game before it is turned over to the bullpen.

As for the Cubs, it’s all about getting whatever return is possible. Schnell, a compensatory Round 1 pick in 2018, doesn’t offer a ton of upside, but he could eventually find his way into becoming a fourth outfielder on a good team.

New York Yankees acquire Joc Pederson

Chicago Cubs, Joc Pederson trade
Jun 20, 2021; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Chicago Cubs left fielder Joc Pederson (24) hits a RBI single in the fifth inning against the Miami Marlins at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: Quinn Harris-USA TODAY Sports

Joc Pederson has essentially been the player we saw in 2020 with the Los Angeles Dodgers. If he isn’t hitting a home run, chances are he is striking out (26.2%) or flying out. Chicago hoped he could be something more, butit’s time to move on for the best return possible.

Outfield is a mess right now for the New York Yankees, especially left field. This is also a team that would benefit from adding a left-handed hitter into its batting order, which makes Pederson an ideal fit. With the short porches at Yankee Stadium, New York might be one of the few teams with real interest in Pederson.

The Cubs wouldn’t land a top-20 prospect in the Yankees’ system, that doesn’t happen for a half-season rental with significant flaws. A deal could be worked around right-handed pitcher Beck Way, a former fourth-round pick who profiles as a future reliever.