Note: This was posted after the Cubs game and most of the other games were over on Friday, July 28, 2023.
Going into todays game the Cubs had a post All Star break record of 9-3. They will be “soft” buyers this year.
What is a “soft” buyer you ask? Based on a few different explanations I’ve heard from reporters on the radio and podcasts a “soft” buyer is a team that wants to fill holes to show fans they are actually trying to win without going all-in.
With that, let’s discuss what the holes the Cubs have are and why there is a low likelihood of there top two trade pieces Cody Bellinger and Marcus Stroman are probably going to stay put as the deadline passes in a few days.
Pitching and defense wins games. The Cubs need to find a way to make room in the rotation for Hayden Wesneski who was called back up today. However, he has not faired well at the major league level since coming to Chicago at the trade deadline last year with the Yankees which sent Scott Effross to New York. He will likely be used in games with Drew Smyly and other long relievers who are being used as “openers” while the Cubs continue to stretch him out to take a full time starters role in 2024 probably as the second or third starter in the rotation behind Justin Steel who was drafted by the Cubs in 2014. On to the holes in the pitching staff… there are two wholes at the back of the bullpen.
Depending who you talk to the biggest of those holes is at closer even though Adbert Alzolay has 13 saves in 14 opportunities. At the end of the day, he was supposed to make it on the roster as a starter out of spring training has been mostly used as the closer. At the end of May Jed Hoyer took blame for the bullpen problems and most of Alzolay’s save opportunities have come after Jed publicly made those comments so I would say the two big holes are a seventh inning man and a setup man. However, they might have a seventh inning man in Michael Fulmer who has shown glimmers of hope when pitching in stressful situation during the sixth and seventh inning of games. That leaves one hole… the setup man. That will likely be a hole that Jed waits for this winter to fill through free agency.
Now to the holes on defense. Those are at first base and third base. There is no way they trade Cody Bellinger who has been batting of .400 over the last month when they spent $300 million this past off season on Taillon and Swanson as well as Cody who all want to be here. In fact, I see the Cubs signing Cody to an extension after he picks up his player option this winter. You are probably asking yourself why I am so confident Cody will not be traded. It’s simple, the Cubs have a log jam in the outfield and the top outfield prospect Pete Crow-Armstrong is expected to be promoted to Triple A Iowa soon, possibly even before the deadline according to many reports. That give the Cubs options at first if they are able to trade for Jeimer Candelario who’s name has been mentioned as a trade piece the Cubs could go after to fill the need at third base. If they are able to snag him from the Nationals who will likely choose to be sellers over standing pat.
Also, it is important to note that the Cubs would get a draft pick if Cody does not pick up his option and proceeds to not return in 2024. So, while they were listening to offers for him the last few weeks since the downward spiral started in May I do not think they were seriously listening since he has very publicly said he wants to be here and stood by that whenever asked about the comment during his press conference this past winter.
In summary, the Cubs will likely fill two holes by Tuesday’s deadline and make an honest run at the playoffs because the Central division is up for grabs and they still have over a twelve percent chance at winning the division according to many statistics.
With that… some unexpected trades will happen because seller’s won’t wait for the eleventh hour.
If you cannot play with them, root for them!