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Which young Cubs star would you trade if you had to?

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A thought exercise.

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 18:  Kyle Schwarber #12 of the Chicago Cubs lines out in the first inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers during game four of the National League Championship Series at Wrigley Field on October 18, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The Cubs have been blessed with a tremendous pool of young talent coming from their farm system over the last four seasons.

They’ve already used some of that talent to acquire players who have helped the team. Jorge Soler was sent to the Royals for Wade Davis, Jeimer Candelario brought Alex Avila and Justin Wilson, and Eloy Jimenez and Dylan Cease were traded to the White Sox for Jose Quintana.

These deals, plus the promotion of players from the system to the starting lineup, have left the system bare for the time being.

Thus if the Cubs want to acquire major-league talent, they are probably going to have to send major-league talent in return.

The Cubs have five young players, all age 25 or under, who have played key roles on the team over the last few seasons. It might become necessary to trade one of them to acquire (for example) starting pitching help.

This exercise asks you to identify the one player among the five who you would be most willing to trade if a trade possibility came up that would truly help the team going forward (say, something similar to the Quintana deal).

We are talking, of course, about (alphabetically) Albert Almora Jr., Javier Baez, Ian Happ, Addison Russell and Kyle Schwarber.

Lineup-wise, the Cubs could probably trade one of the middle infielders without missing too much. If they traded Russell, Baez would likely become the fulltime shortstop and Happ the fulltime second baseman. If they traded Baez, Happ obviously takes over at second. And if they trade Happ, the double-play combo of Russell and Baez would continue.

Personally, I wouldn’t trade any of those three. The positional versatility of Happ and Baez gives Joe Maddon the lineup flexibility he likes. Also, keeping Baez allows Joe to give Kris Bryant some time off, as Baez is the only one of the three who can play a competent third base. The Cubs still do have Ben Zobrist, of course, who can play second base, but I’d think Zobrist’s playing time will be much reduced in 2018 and he’ll wind up playing a lot of left field.

Those of you who think Almora should get more playing time will probably get your wish in 2018. Almora was handled in 2017 much as Baez was in 2016: a “get your feet wet” kind of season where the player got more playing time as the season went on. From August 6 through the end of the season Almora hit .354/.367/.563 with four home runs in 96 at-bats. He still doesn’t walk much, but he’s begun to hit righthanders with more authority, something that was an issue with him previously.

That leaves Kyle Schwarber. I’ve said often that Schwarber is probably better suited for an American League team where he can serve as the fulltime designated hitter. Sure, he can play left field, but the Cubs really deserve better defense out there. The risk you run by trading Schwarber is that perhaps he becomes a 40-homer man on a fairly regular basis, and the team would miss that offense. On the other hand, if he brings a competent, controllable major-league starting pitcher in return, to me it’s clearly worth it.

So my answer to this question is: Kyle Schwarber. What’s yours?

Poll

Which young Cubs star would you trade if you had to?

This poll is closed

  • 3%
    Albert Almora Jr.
    (172 votes)
  • 3%
    Javier Baez
    (142 votes)
  • 10%
    Ian Happ
    (460 votes)
  • 12%
    Addison Russell
    (548 votes)
  • 53%
    Kyle Schwarber
    (2325 votes)
  • 16%
    None of the above -- keep them all!
    (724 votes)
4371 votes total Vote Now