The Cubs have slowly fallen out of the race in the NL Central, and recent reports suggest they could sell at the trade deadline.
Stroman and Bellinger are great trade pieces, and the Cubs have at least 3 more good ones. They are trending sale (as of today anyway) https://t.co/g4VHrc7NYc
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) July 18, 2023
Nobody expected the Cubs to be serious contenders this season. Now 7.5 games back in the division, they would need to reel off a number of consecutive wins to avoid selling their veteran pieces on expiring contracts.
Stroman is right in the middle of the Cy Young conversation, posting a 2.88 ERA and 3.38 FIP. He’s a two-time All-Star and has been one of the most consistent pitchers in baseball since entering the league in 2014. If made available, every competing team will be interested. The Cubs should be able to garner a haul, despite the fact that he will almost assuredly opt out of his contract at the end of the season.
Because of that, it might be a long shot for the Braves to acquire him. They have one of the worst farm systems in baseball, but a package surrounding AJ Smith-Shawver should pique the interest of the Cubs. I’m just not sure how interested the Braves would be in moving the top prospect in the organization for a 2-3 month rental.
The Braves don’t have a glaring need in their lineup, but Bellinger is someone that really intrigues me. He’s having a resurgent season for the Cubs, hitting .305 with 12 homers and an .884 OPS. Bellinger is also a reverse splits guy that has crushed left-handed pitchers to the tune of a 1.070 OPS and could provide better defense in the outfield than Eddie Rosario.
I think Rosario is just fine, and I shouldn’t have to remind everyone how clutch he has proven to be in the postseason. However, acquiring Bellinger would give Brian Snitker so much flexibility with his lineup construction, which can be extremely valuable in the playoffs. The longtime Dodger has a mutual option for 2024, and like Stroman, he’s bound to opt out for a bigger deal. That could very easily be a turnoff for the Braves, but I would love to add him to this group.
If the Braves don’t want to pay top dollar for a starting pitcher, they could turn to an old friend in Drew Smyly. He’s having a decent year for the Cubs, posting a 4.50 ERA, which comes after he recorded a 3.47 ERA in 2022. It wouldn’t be a blockbuster move, but for depth purposes, it makes some sense.
Hendricks has dealt with some injury issues this year but has been very reliable for the Cubs in his ten starts, posting a 3.57 ERA. With a $16 million club option for 2024, he could be an intriguing trade target for the Braves. I think he’s a step up from Drew Smyly, and he could also be a multi-year option if he finishes the 2023 campaign strongly.
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