We’re almost there. The Cubs will play, at most, just five more games with their roster as currently constructed. An outfield bat and a high leverage bullpen arm are coming. Second base help and another lefty reliever could be as well.
As excited as Cubs fans have been to see the team add to their talented core, they’ve also been nervous about the Cubs giving up too much for a two-month rental. The closer we get to July 31st, the less likely we are to see the Cubs overpay. They’ll have to give up something, though, so here’s a list of names we could see moved.
The 19-year-old outfielder, who was one of the Cubs three second-round picks in 2018, is a top-six or seven prospect in the Cubs system. Trading him would likely be an overpayment for any of the players the Cubs are reportedly targeting.
However, with multiple holes needing to be filled, and the Cubs likely dealing with self-imposed budget restrictions, they might need to offload some salary in a trade. The only way to get rid of unwanted salary *and* add a quality player in return is to overpay in prospects.
We already went over the Cubs top-five prospects and why they aren’t going anywhere, so if the Cubs feel their hands are tied and they need to overpay to plug a whole, Roederer is the most likely to go.
2. Alex Lange
When Lange was drafted in the first round of the 2017 draft, it was the earliest the Cubs had selected a pitcher in the Epstein regime. While his draft status excited many, he hasn’t done a whole lot to change the perception that the Cubs are behind many other teams around the league in developing pitching.
He’s become one of many on the list of Cubs draft picks that were selected with a floor over ceiling mentality. His pre-draft reputation as a low-ceiling prospect has proved true thus far in the lower minors. He has struck out less than eight batters per nine innings over his career, with just 16 Ks in 28 Double-A innings over his five starts at that level. How are those numbers going to look against major league hitters? How is he going to limit damage?
Trade rentals routinely go for less than we think, and trading a pitcher like Lange based off draft pedigree could be enough to get the Cubs what they need. If they cling on to Lange too long, they run the risk of completely wasting the value of a first-round pick, that’s not good business.
3. Aramis Ademan
The range of opinions on Ademan, a 20-year-old High-A shortstop, vary more than maybe any other of the Cubs most tradable prospects. He was the third-ranked Cub prospect in FanGraphs’ preseason rankings, 17th in Baseball America’s midseason prospect rankings, and has hovered around the back end of the Cubs top-10 rankings for two seasons now at MLB Pipeline.
Ademan garnered a lot of attention in 2018 when he opened the season in High-A at just 19 years of age. The problem is the impressive gloveman has been at that level for close to two full seasons and has yet to really hit. He’s still plenty young enough to develop into a quality big leaguer, but at some point, teams are going to want to see some production with the bat.
Given Ademan’s current prospect standing, somewhat stalled development, and undesirable major league ETA, I’d bet on him being traded by the end of the week.
4. Zack Short
If Ademan is the most likely prospect to go, Short is a close second. While the Triple-A shortstop has a legitimate chance of helping out the Cubs in 2020, he’s probably quite appealing to sellers.
Short might’ve seen big league action this season if he didn’t break his wrist in the opening week of the season. He’s torn the cover off the ball since his return, which is something he’s done his entire minor league career since being drafted in the 17th round in 2016.
According to MLB pipeline, scouts believe he can play shortstop at the next level and at the very least will be a good defensive second baseman. A quality second baseman who can play short in a pinch and hammer lefties from the right side of the plate? That’s arguably the Cubs most important bench need both now and heading into 2020. Trading Short for a rental second baseman, then not having him to replace said rental in 2020 and beyond would sting. Short might have to go, but I’d hope the Cubs would part with Ademan or Lange first.
Edwards Jr., a former staple of the back end of the bullpen, has lost his way. Much like former teammate Mike Montgomery, what the talented Edwards accomplished in the 2016 postseason all the way up until the final inning will always be cherished, as well as his valuable contributions to the 2017 and 2018 teams. But it’s time for both Edwards and the Cubs to move on.
The Cubs found a way to trade Montgomery for a worthwhile return, but it’s easier to move a failed reliever who has the ability to start. Edwards doesn’t have that value.
Still, Edwards is just 27 years old and under team control through 2022. He has an October track record and a relatively clean bill of health, which could make him particularly attractive to a team that isn’t in a full-on rebuild, like the Rangers or Diamondbacks.
Edwards certainly is not going to be the centerpiece of any deal, but sweetening a deal while simultaneously clearing salary and rewarding a world series champ with a fresh start would make moving on from Edwards worth it.
Featured Photo: Nam Y. Huh/AP