Every team would love to deal for a young superstar like Justin Upton or, especially, Giancarlo Stanton. However, these players might not be available to the Cubs. If they are looking to add a star player from outside their own system the next few years, who could that be?
I ran a search on Fangraphs for hitters who had WAR of 5 or more anytime in the last three seasons. There are 57 such players. Several of them are not relevant to the discussion, in my opinion, because of their age and/or having a big contract. Those would be:
Adrian Gonzalez, Albert Pujols, Aramis Ramirez, Brandon Phillips, Carl Crawford, Chase Utley, David Wright, Jayson Werth, Joey Votto, Joe Mauer, Jose Bautista, Jose Reyes, Josh Hamilton, Kelly Johnson, Matt Holliday, Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder, Shane Victorino, Stephen Drew, Torii Hunter, Jhonny Peralta, Daric Barton, Aaron Hill, Andres Torres, Angel Pagan, Aubrey Huff.
Others who I would consider the face of their franchise, and therefore unavailable, are:
Available right now is Michael Bourn, as a free agent. That leaves the following players from the list:
Alex Gordon, Austin Jackson, Ben Zobrist, Brett Gardner, Brian McCann, Carlos Gonzalez, Chase Headley, Curtis Granderson, Dustin Pedroia, Howie Kendrick, Ian Desmond, Ian Kinsler, Jacoby Ellsbury, Jason Heyward, Jay Bruce, Justin Upton, Martin Prado, Rickie Weeks, Robinson Cano, and Shin-Soo Choo.
You could certainly find reasons to move a few people around between these quick and dirty lists. However, my next step was to see which of the players from the last large group would be free agents soon. Those that currently are listed as having contracts (possibly) ending this season are:
Cano, Choo, McCann, Granderson, Prado, and Ellsbury
My first question to BCB is: do you see the Cubs trying to sign any of these guys?
Any could be signed to extensions, and probably most will be. Ben Zobrist has an option year, so the Rays would almost certainly exercise that and trade him even if they weren't going to keep him, unless he gets hurt.
That narrows down trade possibilities to:
IF: Zobrist, Headley, Pedroia, Kendrick, Desmond, Kinsler, Weeks
OF: Gordon, Jackson, Gardner, Gonzalez, Heyward, Bruce, Upton
My second question to BCB is: do you see any of these players' current teams being willing to part with them between now and the start of the 2014 season? If so, what type of player (veteran vs. young, starting pitcher vs. leadoff man, etc.) would they be wanting in return? Would the Cubs be interested?
Thanks for your thoughts.