Their farm system is deep, but lacks pitching. They have bats for days (Kris Bryant, Javier Baez, Jorge Soler) and have used their high draft picks on position players. I assume they will draft a starting pitcher with the #4 overall pick in the 2014 MLB Amateur Draft, since they desperately need a future ace.
The Cubs currently have a handful of players that contenders would love to have down the stretch.
There is one player specifically that has been the focus of nearly ever Cubs trade rumor, Jeff Samardzija.
Which Cubs players are currently on the trading block? We will list the most likely trade candidates and any players the Cubs have their eye on in return.
Jeff Samardzija – Samardzija currently has an ERA under 2.00 through his first nine starts…and doesn’t have a single win to show for it. I’m sure he’s extremely frustrated and I don’t blame him for being hesitant to sign a contract extension. He isn’t eligible for free agency until after next season, but if Chicago trades him now, they will get more in return. I’m sure they would love if he stayed with the team, but after last season’s second-half collapse, they can’t be comfortable ponying up the money Samardzija wants. The Cubs’ asking price is extremely high right now and I assume it will stay high through the trade deadline. The Blue Jays are rumored to be interested and the Cubs are interested in a few of their pitching prospects. The Cubs’ scouts have watched Toronto prospect Marcus Stroman a few times and are no doubt interested. I assume they will ask for Stroman and their #1 prospects Aaron Sanchez. I doubt Toronto would trade their top two overall prospects, but I’m sure the Cubs are even asking for more. I think he gets moved before the trade deadline, but they were in this position with Matt Garza and waited until the final year to pull the trigger. They got a great package in return and netted them Mike Olt and their best starting pitcher prospect, C.J. Edwards. I assume they will get even more for ‘The Shark.’
Nate Schierholtz – The Cubs may have waited too long to maximize a Schierholtz trade. He overachieved last season with 21 homers and looked like he shed the platoon tag that plagued him throughout his career. He hasn’t started out well this season. In 127 at-bats, he has yet to hit a homer and is hitting under .200. Most of his at-bats has come against righties and he hasn’t even hit them well. They have plenty of outfielders to hold the position until Albert Almora and Jorge Soler are ready. Mike Olt played some outfield in the minors and Junior Lake would benefit from playing everyday in left. The Cubs could have moved Schierholtz to the Rangers at the deadline last year, but after trading with Texas many times, their farm system is pretty drained and the asking price was high. If he can flip the switch, Chicago could still get a mid-level prospect at this point.
James Russell – Russell could be another example of the Cubs waiting too long to make a trade. His stock was really high last year, but has looked average so far this season. The Cubs could still get something decent in return for Russell, since contenders always look for lefty relievers at the trade deadline.
Jose Veras – Could a player start off any worse than Veras? He started the year out as the team’s closer, but lost that role really quick. He blew a few saves in epic fashion and still has an ERA over 12.00 and a WHIP of 2.32. Why would a team trade for Veras? Well, after coming off the disabled list, he’s looked a lot better. If he can just be above average from this point on, I’m sure the Cubs could find a trade partner.
Jason Hammel – Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer have a knack for signing pitchers that slipped through the cracks to a one-year deals and turn into trade bait. They did it last year with Scott Feldman and it looks like they did it again with Hammel. He currently has an ERA around 3.00 and nearly time he’s on the mound, he notches a quality start. The Cubs traded Feldman to Baltimore for Jake Arrieta and Pedro Strop. If they could get the same level deal for Hammel (a young pitcher and a throw-in player), it would be a solid trade.
Emilio Bonifacio – I doubt Bonifacio will be traded, because he’s the kind of player Epstein tends to have on his teams. The Cubs don’t have much speed on the roster and he fills that need. It also helps he’s hitting over .300. He went into Spring Training as a non-roster invitee and he’s cheap. He could be in the Cubs long-term plans, but if a team offers them a trade they can’t refuse, he’s gone.
Darwin Barney – The Cubs have multiple middle infield prospects (Javier Baez & Arismendy Alcantara) and Barney has become expendable. He’s one of the best defensive second baseman in baseball, but his offensive numbers have regressed. Baez and Alcantara are both almost MLB-ready and Barney wouldn’t have anywhere to play. If a contender has an injury at second base, a team could call the Cubs. Detroit was interested in him awhile back, but I think they have lost interest.
Bobby Roberts (otherwise known as Sweetbob) is the creator of ‘America’s White Boy’ and contributor at Project Shanks. His writing has been featured on ESPN’s ‘SportsNation’, Sports Illustrated’s Hot Clicks, Guyspeed, and various other sites. You can follow him on Twitter at @Sweetbob.