The Cubs have fallen to third in the NL Central, and have some holes that need filling to keep up with the Cardinals and Pirates. Who might they target to do so?
The Cubs’ record is creeping back toward the .500 mark and they’ve recently been passed in the standings by the Pittsburgh Pirates. They’re just 6-9 in their last 15 games, a span in which they scored just 2.5 runs per game. The offense is mired in a major slump; Jorge Soler just went on the DL, which is already occupied by Mike Olt, Tommy La Stella, and Chris Denorfia.
The bench has been a mess, with few real options with so many bench guys missing major time this season. Jonathon Herrera, Matt Szczur, David Ross, and Mike Baxter currently occupy the Cubs bench, with Junior Lake filling in for Soler and batting clean-up. Denorfia could be returning within a week or so, as he’s at Double-A on his rehab assignment, but even then it’s hard to imagine this group staying competitive without reinforcements.
If there is a silver lining for the Cubs, it’s that they are pretty flexible. Kris Bryant is currently at third base, but could play in the outfield if necessary. Javier Baez recently was moved to third base at Triple-A, and the Cubs gain another year of control if he’s called up on June 11. It’s entirely possible that Bryant could be on his way out to left field with Baez getting some time at third. But that still doesn’t fix everything.
It’s unknown how long Soler is going to miss, but whispers are that it’s anywhere from three to six weeks. He’s had his struggles making consistent contact, as a lot of young hitters do, but you cannot deny his production so far this year. Soler has hit .265/.322/.408 with four homeruns and 19 RBI so far this season.
So what can the Cubs do? Well, Kyle Schwarber is down at Double-A tearing the cover off the ball. But it seems doubtful that he’s headed to the Cubs without a reasonable stop at Triple-A first. It’s possible Schwarber could be up in August or September, but they need help right now if they’re going to stay in the playoff race. This problem isn’t likely to be solved from inside the organization.
The Cubs have been heavily rumored to be looking into trading for a starting pitcher, and they should definitely be in the market for relievers as well, as they have a bullpen ERA of 3.86. So I searched the internet to come up with a comprehensive list of players that could be realistic targets for the Cubs between now and the trade deadline: