One of the amusing sidelights in following baseball is trade chatter. Recently, I've been testing the water to see what the Cubs might need to trade to upgrade the left-handed side of the bullpen. Many fans have ideas on what Will Smith (or others) might require to obtain. If we take copious enough notes, we might have better guesses on the topic next year, with a different list of names. This is a look at which Cubs 2019 draft selection might be the first one traded next year.
This series will hopefully be whimsical and educational. The entire draft class will be a potential article, and nobody will be featured more than once. Giving neophyte prospects more column inches than usual is the general goal. What sorts of traits are being sought in players who might be dealt first?
In this instance, I carve out the back half of the draft. The Cubs have traded "top half of the process" draft picks recently, with relative willingness, sending Ricky Tyler Thomas and Rollie Lacy to the Rangers last season in the Jesse Chavez and Cole Hamels trades. Teams will rarely trade for a 32nd-round choice until he proves himself worthy. The Cubs have been all about drafting relievers this cycle. Relievers aren't traditionally an early ask, so I'll look elsewhere, initially. With quite a few profiling as relievers, the pool shrinks.
The Cubs have gotten rather efficient at churning infielders through the pipeline. The upper minors haven't reached "glut status" yet, but college shortstops are reasonable asks the first year after a draft. With all that under consideration, my guess for first trade piece in this draft settles on an early third day choice.
A few days before the draft, a little birdie dropped a potential Cubs draft selection in my Twitter IM box. Shortly after the third day of the draft started, I had a response, along the lines of "See?"
I have a friend from many years ago named Jeff. He was more of my older brother's friend, but Jeff and I are Facebook friends, and he's an aficionado of music and Chicago sports. He's settled down In Oklahoma, and regularly makes it to his local Junior College baseball games. When I saw 11th-round choice Mack Chambers' school (Seminole State College in Oklahoma), I shot Jeff a question. "Are you familiar with them?" He assured me he was, and that they were good every year.
Some prospective prep baseball players want to go to the highest profile school they can, forgetting they might not get to play much. Chambers went to one of the six major JC schools in Oklahoma, and got to play. Getting to play, scouts got to see him, and the Cubs prioritized him with their first third-day choice. A coach’s son, he hit .400 with eight homers, stole 14 bases, and fits in with the Cubs up-the-middle narrative. Once signed, he figures to get loads of chances in Mesa. If he represents as a long-term piece in a pipeline, with middle infield skills, Chambers for a piece in 2020 seems entirely believable. He seems as reasonable as any to be the first player from the class traded.
For response, you can feel welcome to list the prospective (bullpen improving) trade you'd most like to see. My favorite ones would be more about limiting loss than maximizing return. More than that, though, I want to encourage realistic hopes for recent Cubs draft selections. By next season, some will be Minor League Wrap regulars. They will become part of the tapestry that is Cubs baseball. I welcome them all, and look forward to learning their back-stories.