The Chicago Cubs keep dropping hints that they’ll be willing to make big trades this winter, but which of their young stars could actually move?
If the continued rumblings out of Chicago are to be believed, the Cubs 2020 roster could be set for a major shakeup.
Young stars Kris Bryant, Willson Contreras, Kyle Schwarber and Javy Baez are all on the trade block to a certain degree. The offseason is still young, so these are truly just rumors and speculation, but the Cubs do need a serious overhaul of their roster after missing the playoffs in 2019 and hiring David Ross to take over for Joe Maddon.
The proclamations that the Cubs were building a dynasty after winning it all in 2016 appear, in hindsight, to have been extremely premature. It has now been three seasons since that title, and the Cubs are now further away than ever from adding a second title.
Their roster has also gotten expensive and cumbersome. A series of win-now trades and signings have also left the farm system gutted and the payroll bloated well over the luxury-tax threshold. It speaks to how hemmed in the front office is that there was never a serious push to convince Bryce Harper to join his childhood Bryant teammate last winter.
Speculation that the Cubs are prepared to retool on the fly this offseason will continue building until the winter meetings.
Despite the flaws mentioned above, the Cubs can still emerge from this offseason as a potential World Series favorite. Their roster remains incredibly deep, so they can absorb the loss of one heavy hitter. If the returns are right, there is no reason the Cubs can’t inject new life into their roster, reduce payroll and set themselves on a new path towards an extended run as championship contenders.
But which pieces of the core should they actually consider moving and which do they need to hold on to?
Cubs right-hander Kyle Hendricks wasn’t specifically named as one of the potential trade pieces that could be moved this winter, but there’s always a chance the 29-year-old could be had at the right price.
Over the past four seasons, the unimposing hurler has emerged as one of the most consistent starters in the league. The Cubs rewarded him with a four-year, $55-million extension that kicks in this season. Hendricks can lock in a fifth year to turn the deal into a five-year, $71-million pact if he finishes in the top three of the 2020 NL Cy Young vote.
Hendricks is 48-34 with a 3.01 ERA since 2016 and has made 30 starts three times. He isn’t going to be a 200-inning workhorse, and should be limited to six innings most starts before an entire lineup gets a third look at him. Despite lacking elite fastball velocity, Hendricks thrives thanks to his command and movement.
Of the youngish stars on the Cubs, Hendricks is the least likely to be traded because the rotation lacks guaranteed options after the 2020 season. Jon Lester and Jose Quintana are in the final years of their deals and Yu Darvish’s first two seasons in Chicago have been disastrous. Still, Hendricks is an upper-echelon number-two starter making less than $15 million per year. He may command a similar return to the package the Cubs gave up to acquire Quintana in 2017.