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Why the Chicago Cubs Need to Keep Their Core Together (for now)

This is a guest post by Frank Fernandez

Last November, the Chicago Cubs put 107 years of Billy goats and Bartmans to bed when they won their first World Series title since 1908. The ‘five-year plan’ set in motion with the hiring of team president Theo Epstein in 2012 was complete and now it was time to celebrate. The city of Chicago did just that, dancing in the streets until pitchers and catchers arrived in Mesa. When the 2017 regular season kicked off, it looked like the Cubs may have still been hungover from their months of celebration.

The team looked lost for most of the first half, struggling at the plate and on the mound. In 2016, the Cubs began the season on a torrid pace, winning 24 out of their first 30 games. 2017 is a much different story, as they have had trouble staying more than a handful of games above .500 for the better part of the season. On top of that, the Milwaukee Brewers have surprised everyone and jumped into the lead in the NL Central.

With a bevy of prospects at their disposal, the Cubs’ front office went about making some additions to help catch those pesky Brewers. The biggest splash came as a surprise to many, as the Cubs made a deal with their neighbors to the south, the Chicago White Sox, for their ace Jose Quintana. In exchange, the White Sox received four minor leaguers, including outfielder Eloy Jimenez and pitcher Dylan Cease. Both sides came out looking good, as the Cubs shored up their starting staff and the White Sox added a pair of studs to their rebuilding process.

The best aspect of the Quintana deal for the Cubs is that they now control him until 2020, and at a more than reasonable price. The worst aspect, though, is they now have no prospects remaining inside Baseball America’s top 100. With murmurings of another possible deal for the Cubs before the July 31st deadline, the idea has been brought up of trading one of the Cubs’ core offensive players. Not so fast.

The Cubs have been linked to pitchers such as Sonny Gray, Justin Verlander, and Yu Darvish. While all three of these guys would no doubt bolster the starting rotation, none of them warrant giving up a player the likes of Kyle Schwarber, Ian Happ, Albert Almora Jr., Javier Baez, etc. While Gray is extremely affordable, he has been very inconsistent and would not be worth the asking price. Verlander would be controlled until 2020, but he would eat up a big chunk of payroll for a team already working around Jason Heyward’s monster contract and looking down the road to a major payday for reigning MVP Kris Bryant.  The same goes for Darvish, who would more than likely be a rental before he hits the open market this winter.

The offensive core the Cubs have now is still so young and have not even reached their full potential at this juncture. Schwarber, Willson Contreras, and Happ have not even played a full season in the majors and have so much room for growth in their positions. Kris Bryant is only in his third season and already has that MVP award under his belt, while Baez, Addison Russell, and Almora Jr. are defensive wizards at such young ages.

While some fans may be in panic mode over the way this team has played so far in 2017, it is not time for the front office to make any drastic moves. While I (as a Cubs fan) would appreciate the team winning the World Series every year, they also must be prepared for the future. Breaking the band up would set the team back, especially when trying to replace players with such great talent and untapped potential. The Cubs should stay put and keep on rolling with the team they have, and save the roster moves for the offseason.

-Frank Fernandez

Copyright © 2017 | Off The Bench Baseball

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