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After Cubs catcher Willson Contreras publicly fumed in the media about a lack of effort earlier this week, rumors swirled that the Cubs may try to return to earlier-season winning-form before the trade deadline. It wasn’t so long ago that the Cubs sat 10 games above .500 and were tied for first place in the NL Central. But after a miserable skid in which the team lost 13 of 15 headed into the All-Star break, and no signs of optimism from the front office, sentiments that Chicago will be trade-deadline sellers are gaining steam.
General managers shoulder many burdens as team leaders, but none so much as the final decision to dismantle a team in a way that gives the organization the best chance for future success. Right now, the Cubs possess a few high-value assets that may provide that missing link for a different contender, and it’s Jed Hoyer’s job to leverage those assets into winning baseball. One of Hoyer’s former employers may want to take a player off his hands for the right price; in fact, they may want to take a few of them.
The Boston Red Sox thus far have defied preseason expectations and will surely want to ride the wave of success deep into the postseason. Sitting at 55-36 in a competitive AL East (three other teams are within eight games of Boston), the Sox have played great, but need to shore up a few positions to really give themselves the best chance to win the World Series. First base and a utility outfielder are two places the Sox could use improvement. It just so happens that, if the Cubs do sell these next two weeks, then Anthony Rizzo (1B) and Kris Bryant (Util) could end up on the same team once again.
Rizzo would provide a nice left-handed bat for Boston, as well as a voice of leadership in the clubhouse. It’s possible his expiring contract gets bundled with another as part of a larger deal, but if that doesn’t happen, a trade to Boston would make a lot of sense.
Bryant provides a ton of flexibility on defense (he has started at five different positions this year with almost even splits among them), and an above-average right-handed bat. At the break, he’s sitting at 16 home runs and 43 RBIs with an above-average 132 OPS+. Plus, at 29-years-old, Bryant still has some good tread left on the tires. A second act in Boston would make a lot of sense if the Red Sox can come up with enough prospect capital to make a decent offer.
One final piece the Red Sox (and all contenders) could use is starting pitching, and veteran Zach Davies could be a useful inning-eater for a contender like Boston. Davies’ numbers aren’t terribly impressive, but his durability has been remarkable of late. He led the league in starts a few years ago, and leads Chicago in starts this year with 18 at the break. In the dog days of September, when the staff is tired and dealing with nagging aches and pains, a starter like Davies is a breath of fresh air for a manager trying to get to October intact.
All of this conjecture still depends on the Cubs blowing up the team, but the consensus sure seems to be ‘rebuilding at Wrigley.’ If that’s the route they do go, then there will be some serious talent on the trade blocks these next couple weeks.