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An unlikely trade partner: the Chicago Cubs

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I know, this sounds a little crazy but hear me out

MLB: Chicago Cubs at St. Louis Cardinals Scott Kane-USA TODAY Sports

If you haven’t already thrown your phone/tablet/computer across the room and cursed my existence yet, thanks for giving this idea a chance.

It’s definitely not unheard of for long-time rivals to occasionally make deals with each other. The Cubs and White Sox have made deals over the years swapping players like Sammy Sosa, Ron Santo, and most recently Jose Quintana.

If you don’t remember, the Cubs and Cards have done deals themselves in the past. Going all the way back to 1900 when the Chicago Orphans purchased the contract of Cupid Childs from the Cardinals.

Then, in 1964 the Chicago Cubs made possibly one of the most costly moves in their history when they traded Lou Brock, Jack Spring and Paul Toth to the St. Louis Cardinals for Ernie Broglio, Doug Clemens and Bobby Shantz.

16 years later in 1980 the Cardinals traded Leon Durham and Ken Reitz to the Chicago Cubs for Bruce Sutter.

All of these plus another 70 or so transactions to say that it’s not uncommon for these two teams to do business with each other, rivalry or not. Deals big and small over the years.

This is why the time may be right to take advantage of the Cubs’ depth and potential for future tough roster decisions to pull off a colossal move with Chicago.

MLB: Milwaukee Brewers at Chicago Cubs Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports

There was the news that broke around 10 days ago from Dave Kaplan of ESPN 1000 in Chicago that Kris Bryant had turned down a contract “well north of $200 million.” The story was quickly refuted by The Athletic’s Sahadev Sharma as not being entirely accurate. So while that story itself may not be true, the reality lies in the fact that very soon Bryant will be due to make a lot of money whether it’s with the Cubs or elsewhere. Several other Cubs position players are due to soon make a lot of money as well like Kyle Schwarber, Javy Baez, Willson Contreras, Albert Almora, and Ian Happ who are all set to enter arbitration with the team.

Now, the Cubs will obviously do what it takes to retain Bryant and Baez, and probably Willson Contreras. Especially with all of the connections Bryant has to Bryce Harper. Which leaves Schwarber, Almora, and Happ as pieces the Cubs may need to move on from with a deep outfield, especially if they get Harper.

As Brett Taylor from Bleacher Nation wrote about 2 weeks ago, Almora is the better hitter against left-handed pitching so he’s less likely to move. One thing the Cubs are definitely lacking that they haven’t in recent years is depth down into the minor leagues as they’ve traded valuable pieces to acquire player like the aforementioned Quintana or Wade Davis down the stretch last season.

Down in the minors, the Cubs’ top prospects are mostly pitchers, with only 11 of the top 30 as position players. So it would make a lot of sense for the Cubs to want to trade these hitters to a team that has a decent amount of position-player prospects or pitchers already in the majors. If you go the non-pitcher route the Cardinals could be a great team to do business with.

Half of the Cardinals top 30 prospects are position players including 5 of the top 8 alone. The Cubs don’t need players that are ready right now to play in the bigs, they need players to foster and the Cards’ system has that. Guys like Randy Arozarena and Max Schrock are close to being ready for the majors which may not solve Chicago’s needs. Players like Elehuris Montero, Conner Capel, Nolan Gorman, or Jonatan Machado would make more sense due to all of them probably not being ready for the bigs for at least 3-4 more years.

The questions from here are tricky. How much of the Cardinals’ farm system depth would you be willing to lose to gain some potential strong hitting to your lineup? Do have the room for any of these Cubs with who is already on the roster? Do you even want any of these castoffs from the Cubs?

To me, Kyle Schwarber should be a no straight away. Schwarber is more equipped to play for an AL team where he doesn’t have to play the field, which can be an adventure at times. Regardless of what power he adds to the lineup his deficiencies in the field can’t be overlooked. Oddly enough though, if you check his fielding percentage, he ranks high in range factor and fielding percentage among other leftfielder’s in the league, which to me is luck more so than skill.

Ian Happ would have to be the guy to take a serious look at. Happ can play anywhere in the field and has done so with the exception of catcher with the Cubs, including pitching which he did this season, throwing a 1-hit scoreless inning. When you look at Happ’s stats at the plate on paper there isn’t much that pops out. He’s only hitting .242 in 257 games over 2 season in Chicago. However, when Happ was in the minors he was regarded for how quickly he moved between levels, going from Low-A ball in 2015 up to the Cubs in 2017. With him struggling a bit currently in the bigs, you may not have to give up a ton to land a player that could be the Swiss Army Knife.

Or you could go for broke. Offer the Cubs a package of 2-3 top prospects and perhaps a current roster player or two (Paul DeJong, Jedd Gyorko, or Kolten Wong??) and get Kris Bryant. Which then opens the door to get Bryce Harper. We can all dream, right?

All stats courtesy of baseball-reference.com and MLB.com.

All video courtesy of the MLB YouTube channel at YouTube.com/MLB.