Come off-season time, no matter what the result of the campaign is, the Cubs will have some tough decisions to make. Stars Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, and Javier Baez are slated for free agency. As Willson Contreras stated recently, “We should keep this core together.” I am on board with keeping the band together as long as the Cubs can afford it. That’s the sucky part about the business. It’s hard to afford multiple stars without payroll concerns. Moreover, Chicago will have other needs to address such as starting pitching. They’ll have to allocate funds to other areas on the roster.
There is a chance that the trade deadline presents an opportunity for Chicago. Now, depending on their record, they may be looking to sell and could trade one of their stars for prospects. I don’t know what the chance of that happening is or all the factors, but I do know there could be talks going down. With the Cubbies on the winning path right now, the odds of selling are pretty low but there are still two months left until the deadline.
This season, all three of them are putting together great seasons. Bryant has been in the midst of a resurgent season, batting .308 and showing off serious versatility. He has made starts at first base, all three outfield spots, and his typical position, third base. We haven’t seen him in the hot corner much lately as Matt Duffy and David Bote have been receiving playing time there. He would be the most likely Cub traded at the deadline if the season went south due to his production and versatility.
Javy is doing Javy. Sure, he’ll strikeout on pitches that have no business being swung at, but then he’ll come back an at-bat later and hit an absolute missile. Take Sunday night’s game against the Cardinals for example. 10th inning in a 0-0 deadlock and what does he do? Absolutely demolishes a two-run homer off Cardinals dominant closer Alex Reyes. He has 32 RBIs this season along with 11 homers. His defense is dazzling as well. Baez should be in line for a massive payday, hopefully with Chicago.
Rizzo has been a Cub for awhile. Fans love him and so do his teammates. He’s an all-around great guy. Riz is the ideal middle-of-the-order hitter. He has more walks than strikeouts, crushes the baseball, and brings runners home. He’s had back issues in the past (including this season) and is the oldest of the three.
In my opinion, IF the Cubs HAVE to part with one of these three it should probably be Rizzo. His loss would be detrimental to the Cubs and I hope it does not come down to this. Bryant’s versatility (as long as he does not get traded) allows Chicago to move him to first while maybe signing a cheap vet to platoon. Moreover, Baez’s defense and offensive abilities would be hard to replace.
Obviously the goal is to compete for championships and this Cubs core is the way to go. With some reinforcements in the rotation, Chicago can hold their ground in a winnable division. Cubs fans don’t want to go through another lengthy rebuild that may or may not work. It will be hard to keep the core together but hopefully Jed can work some magic.