The end of July is always a busy time for Theo Epstein and the Chicago Cubs, and these five trade targets could provide a boost to their World Series chances.
For Chicago Cubs executive Theo Epstein and his front office, the end of July has been time to shine since the team began its run of legitimate World Series contention in 2015. Epstein has always managed to pull off huge deals, seemingly out of nowhere, that have pushed his squad over the top. No one has done it better than Epstein when it comes to stockpiling talent at all levels of the Minor Leagues and knowing exactly when to cash it in on the trade market.
This year will be different, however, as big trades for Jose Quintana, Cole Hamels and Aroldis Chapman, as well as the graduation of several key names to the big leagues, has effectively tapped the Cubs out of elite prospects. Epstein will have to find a way to work the edges of the trade market and sell opposing general managers on the merits of his middling farm system. The Cubs are also backed up against the luxury tax, which makes it difficult to blow teams away with an offer to absorb an expensive contract.
The Cubs have pulled clear of the Milwaukee Brewers for the time being, but the Brew Crew has started the second half on a tear and won’t be going away at all down the stretch. The most pressing needs for the Cubs on the trade market this year are similar to years past — starting pitching, bullpen depth and infield and outfield help. With no assurances that Yu Darvish and Cole Hamels will stay healthy into October, a leaky bullpen and minimal production from Albert Almora and Addison Russell, the Cubs have a few obvious holes to fill. These five trade candidates all address needs for the Cubs in different ways.
5. Brock Holt
With their chances to repeat as World Series champions growing smaller by the day, it appears likely the Boston Red Sox will consider selectively trading away pieces of their roster. One name that could easily be dealt is utility man Brock Holt. The 2015 All-Star is playing out a one-year deal and will be a free agent next season. He remains a solid role player, one who would fit well on any contender’s bench.
Holt has continued to deal with his fair share of time on the Injured List, but has been healthy since the start of June and has been on a tear the last two months. He is hitting .344/.399/.451 on the year and .404/.449/.532 since June 1. Holt is capable of playing every position on the diamond, and could be the answer the Cubs have been looking for since Ben Zobrist went on the restricted list.