Wednesday morning, Sahadev Sharma and Patrick Mooney of The Athletic posted this article going through all the main performers of the 2020 Cubs and assessing the possibilities of whether they would be traded, or not, and what value could be acquired in return.
The entire article is worth reading, but here are a couple of my thoughts, both on what was in the article and my own feelings about who’ll probably go.
Sharma and Mooney posted an intriguing trade idea that I hadn’t though of: Getting some value from Craig Kimbrel. Kimbrel showed, after a poor start, that he’s probably back to his previously dominant self:
Over his final 14 appearances, Kimbrel posted a 1.42 ERA (he allowed a run in only one of those appearances), struck out 53.1 percent of the batters he faced and allowed a .342 OPS, more than compensating for a high 14.3 percent walk rate. He didn’t walk a batter or allow a run in the entire month of September. And in his final outing of the regular season, he threw four pitches over 99 mph, the first time he’s done so since 2018.
If the Cubs do explore moving Kimbrel, a contender in need of a high-leverage reliever should be willing to pay a solid price to bring in a rejuvenated pitcher to work at the back of their bullpen. The limited no-trade clause that Kimbrel had in the second year of his contract is being phased out this offseason.
It might be worth finding a team that’s willing to take the last year of Kimbrel’s contract ($16 million, plus a $1 million buyout for 2022) and perhaps re-signing Jeremy Jeffress to close in 2021. That might be worth doing if, as many think, the core of this team is going to be broken up by free agency after 2021. Jeffress did solid work closing when Kimbrel was pitching poorly, and could probably be effective in the role for another year. He’ll cost more than the $850,000 the Cubs would have paid him for a full 2020 season, but he won’t cost $16 million, either.
The article goes on to address the possibility of trading Kris Bryant, but notes the difficulty of finding a team willing to give up talent and pay KB $20 million in 2021 coming off a bad year.
Sharma and Mooney also say that Yu Darvish and Kyle Hendricks aren’t likely going anywhere, nor is Anthony Rizzo. Willson Contreras would probably bring a lot in return, but then that leaves the Cubs with Victor Caratini as their starting catcher. Caratini is a good ballplayer, but as a starter he’s a downgrade over Contreras.
My choice is Kyle Schwarber, though Schwarber’s trade value, like Bryant’s, is down after he had the worst year of his career. Do teams look through that and write it off to the pandemic-shortened season? It’s been mentioned in a few places that the Yankees, a righthanded-hitter-heavy team, might be interested in the lefthanded-hitting Schwarber. That short right-field porch at Yankee Stadium could be real attractive for him.
If the Cubs did offer Schwarber to the Yankees, one guy I’d like in return is lefthanded starter Jordan Montgomery. Montgomery didn’t have a real good year in 2020, but he’s 27 and has three more years of team control, arbitration-eligible for the first time in 2021. He’s got good walk and strikeout rates and his 2020 ERA of 5.11 was skewed by two really bad starts vs. the Rays and Phillies. Yes, I know you’re going to tell me you can’t cherry-pick like that, but maybe Montgomery has better results against NL Central teams than vs. the AL East.
The Cubs would probably want a young reliever along with Montgomery in a Schwarber deal, or a couple of prospects.
That’s my thought, anyway. What’s yours?
If you had to trade ONE current Cub this offseason, who would it be?
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