The Chicago Cubs are the talk of the MiLB. That’s not a typo, there’s nothing fun to talk about with the major league team, but the minor league affiliates are not only being hyped, they’re living up to it as well. With the team trading Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel for prospects, with short stop Addison Russell being the main new-comer, the team has gone from a “Core Four” to a five bagger of prospects that compare to any minor league system we’ve ever seen. There’s only one problem. The team has three legitimate “short stops of the future”. Along with Russell, the team has former top prospect, now second only to Kris Bryant, as well as current short stop Starlin Castro. Despite this positive problem, the team’s lack of pitching depth hasn’t gotten any better in recent seasons. There is no reason to think the current minor league system will provide enough pitching to make up for a bad day this potentially-explosive line-up might have. With those three short stop prospects, there is no doubt that the Tampa Bay Rays would love to make one of those players a cornerstone of a trade that brings staff ace David Price over to the Friendly Confines.
The question is, which prospect do you send over? In my opinion, there’s no real debate. Starlin Castro should be a key part of a trade for David Price. Baez was a top five prospect coming into the season, and still is among the top prospects in baseball. Trading Russell wouldn’t make much sense, since he was just acquired. This would be negative for two reasons, one being that it totally changes the trade that was made with Oakland, effectively making it “Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel for David Price and a prospect.” While that is a good trade in theory, it’s something that an MLB team wouldn’t want to make. A team wouldn’t want to trade two MLB level players for one, instead hoping to get prospects for them. Especially in the case of a team rebuilding. Another reason is that a team that respects its prospects won’t trade them to a team that may move them immediately.
Castro is still young, but won’t be traded straight-up for the former Cy Young Award winner. While Baez might be good enough to get the star, Castro would have to be a part of a package, although not a big one. Adding a prospect or two may be enough to get the Rays to budge. Castro isn’t exactly cheap, having about $7 million owed to him next year between his base salary and signing bonus. But for a team that is looking to avoid huge contracts, that’s a good price for a player of Castro’s caliber. Price would probably ask for somewhere in the $18 million range, if not even more. As a small market team, the Rays won’t be able to afford that, but the penny-pinching Cubs have saved up more than enough to afford that.
While this shouldn’t be considered anything close to a rumor, but more of an idea, it’s something the Cubs should look in to. There won’t be a bidding war over Price like there will be over top free agents this upcoming offseason, making it easier for the Cubs to ensure their future, as they’ve shown they want to do.