So the Cubs are currently doing background work on a handful of Pitchers to add to their rotation, presumably including Shelby Miller and Julio Teheran. They’ve also been linked to the “Aces” at the top of the market (David Price and Zack Greinke), as well as free-agents on the next tier (Jeff Samardzija and John Lackey) in an effort to build enough pitching depth to get them by the teams in their division and the pitching-rich Mets for the next several years while they have their young offensive stars under control cheaply and trying to finally end the most well-known stretch of futility in professional sports. Theo and Jed don’t strike ANYONE as a front office tandem that will act out of any feeling of desperation now that they’ve overseen Chicago’s return to relevance, but do want to be the ones to finally give Cubs fans at least ONE Championship.
The Braves apparently line up as even more logical trade partners this winter than the Mets did last offseason. Not only are they rebuilding, they appear to be willing to move very valuable parts of their major league roster in an effort to completely overhaul their minor league system with their eyes fully focused on 2017 and beyond following the trades they’ve made under the new regime. While they’re trying to say all the right things – “we want to win in 2016 just as much as the fans do”, “we’re embarrassed about what happened in 2015”, what have you, it’s clear that they’re focused on achieving their initial stated goal of getting the organization back into a position where it can contend for an extended period of time. They’ve made several tough decisions that have angered the fanbase by trading Jason Heyward, Justin Upton, Evan Gattis, Craig Kimbrel, and Andrelton Simmons, and dealt with overwhelming criticism concerning rumors that potentially more marketable pieces Shelby Miller, Julio Teheran, and even Freddie Freeman COULD be had for the right return.
The Cubs represent not only the team that is in a position that could conceivably be the spot where a couple of those pieces fit the best, but they also happen to have the pieces the Braves could use to “finish off” their rebuilding process. The kind of trade proposed below is both the “pie-in-the-sky” deal that always makes fans so excited during the Hot Stove months, but also one that may not be so far-fetched that it’s not possible. So, if for nothing other than your entertainment, here we go…
Why It Works For The Cubs –
They fill TWO rotation slots with inexpensive, high-ceiling SPs who are under control through at least 2018 to match up with anyone with deep rotations (the Mets in particular) and the veteran pen presence who is more than capable of stepping in as their Closer if need be – WITHOUT hurting their offense and leaving them the opportunity to avoid the huge financial commitment it’s going to cost to land another top-of-the-rotation starter PLUS giving them a high-upside reliever if Folty is converted (or the money to spend on shoring up their bullpen even further). The Cubs could move Kris Bryant to RF, and give playing time to Javier Baez (who’s the better defender) at 3B while re-signing 2015 sparkplug Dexter Fowler to man CF. Spending money on that next tier of free-agents will allow the Cubs to fill “holes” without moving their most important pieces and without the HUGE financial commitment to an “Ace”.
2016 Cubs Lineup:
CF- Dexter Fowler, LF- Kyle Schwarber, RF- Kris Bryant, 1B- Anthony Rizzo, 3B- Javier Baez, C- Miguel Montero, 2B- Starlin Castro, SS- Addison Russell
Jake Arrieta, John Lester, Shelby Miller, Julio Teheran, Jeff Samardzija/John Lackey/Mike Leake/Ian Kennedy/Scott Kazmir
Hector Rondon, Jason Grilli, Travis Wood, Pedro Strop, Justin Grimm, free-agent signing/Mike Foltynewicz
Why It Works For The Braves:
They add several controllable, high upside, almost MLB-ready bats to fill “holes” in their system, PLUS Underwood – all of whom would slot into the Braves Top 10 to Top 15 prospects as they continue to eye 2017 – and the opportunity to continue trying to move current MLB pieces (Nick Markakis and Erick Aybar) for even more prospects. They could also continue their rumored pursuit of Darren O’Day and other bullpen or mid-rotation pieces (or even go after a higher-end starter like Stephen Strasburg or Matt Moore) with that focus towards competing in 2017 and beyond.
Potential Braves 2017 Lineup:
CF- Mallex Smith, 2B- Ozhaino Albies, 1B- Freddie Freeman, RF- Jorge Soler, LF- Hector Olivera, 3B- Jeimer Candelario, C- Willson Contreras, SS- Gleyber Torres
Strasburg/Moore, Duane Underwood, Sean Newcomb, Matt Wisler, Lucas Sims/Tyrell Jenkins/Manny Banuelos/Williams Perez/Ryan Weber
Darren O’Day, Arodys Vizcaino, Shae Simmons, Paco Rodriguez, Chris Withrow, Banuelos, Zachary Bird/Jason Hursh/Mauricio Cabrera
Yeah, it’s that time of year and Santa’s warming up his sleigh!!!