Here I am just laying in my bed and I get a notification on my phone that says the Chicago Cubs are going to be in talks with the Orioles for a trade involving Manny Machado.
This is huge news and I want to break down the pros and cons of the Cubs being involved in this kind of big name trade.
First off, the Cubs need a spark. Badly. They have been playing very inconsistent on both sides of the game. The Cubs only have one guy batting over .300 and that’s Ben Zobrist who doesn’t play everyday. Kris Bryant started hot but is now batting a still respectable .290. Rizzo has been up and down with injuries and is batting .177. It appears as if he is starting to find his stride, and he will eventually, but for right now he is not bringing the spark this team needs.
Surprisingly Javier Baez has been on a tear. He leads the team with 10 home runs and 32 RBI’s. To go along with that he has a .285 batting average which is a big step up for him. In his last seven games he has 7 hits, 3 of them homers, and 6 RBI’s. He has undoubtedly been carrying this team so far.
The Cubs are currently fourth in the division at 17-15, 2.5 games out of the first place Cardinals at 20-13. Do not worry Cubs fans, they will find their stride they just need a couple of pieces.
Firstly, like I predicted at the beginning of the season, Addison Russell wouldn’t be on the Cubs playoff roster. To me, he just isn’t the stud player he was projected to be. He has his flashes, there’s no doubt about that, but he optimizes the Cubs this season. He is too inconsistent. He is a top 10 shortstop in the league and that is why his trade value is high but he’s not the fit the Cubs need. He’s batting .250 with 9 hits in his last seven games.
If the Cubs go for Machado, Addison Russell will be included the mix. He is under arbitration until 2021 so that gives the Orioles a legitimate shortstop replacement for the next few years without having to spend ridiculous amounts of money on Machado in the upcoming free agency.
Now, what does getting Machado mean for the Cubs. The Cubs need a leadoff hitter. Plain and simple that has been the main reason for their struggles this season. They lost Dexter Fowler and this has led Joe Maddon to experiment with the leadoff spot a lot. First, Ian Happ looked like the guy coming into the season. He was drawing walks and had approach. When he led off the season on the first pitch with a home run everyone thought the Cubs had found their guy. Shortly, Happ fell off the face of the earth and the Cubs struggles set in. Then as Baez got scorching hot, Joe thought to put him there. That was a risk he was willing to take as Baez was playing well but strikes out a lot. While his strikeout numbers are a little down, his walks aren’t going up making him not the leadoff hitter they need.
The struggle for them has been finding someone who can get on base and get the lineup going. With Machado, he is a guy who consistently hits around .300 with virtually no one in front of him in the Orioles lineup. He is currently hitting .346 with 20 walks and 20 strikeouts. He strikes out a bit, but he makes up for it with how many walks he draws. Machado has been able to adjust to anything the Orioles organization has thrown at him. Making him a leadoff hitter might give him the opportunity to become a better hitter, than he already is, and not have to do everything for them like he does with the Orioles.
It would be an interesting move if the Cubs organization decide to make that type of blockbuster trade and it will be interesting to see if Machado can fit the role of a leadoff hitter and potentially give the Cubs a boost they very much need.
What does this mean for the rest of the Cubs lineup:
This would give them the boost they need to start games off and get the guys on base for the big bats like Rizzo and Bryant to get RBI’s and find their stride. It would give the guys who are still finding their way like Happ and Contreras a chance to not have the pressure of hitting in the leadoff spot.
If the Cubs make this trade I would expect the lineup to look something like this:
With this lineup it gives Joe the freedom to play around with the 2-spot and gives them a solid lineup from top to bottom with great power and the ability to hit for average moving guys around the bases. This would give the Cubs a no doubt World Series lineup, and would take a lot of pressure off the struggling pitching staff.
Now let me get into the negatives of this trade. The Cubs would have to give up a lot more than just Russell. It would include multiple prospects and most likely someone like Happ or Schwarber in there as well. The Orioles would be foaming at the mouth if they could get a guy like Schwarber to be their new DH. The Cubs have already pretty much depleted their once legendary farm system and have focused on the “win now” mentality, and they should. If they want to stay relevant winning now is crucial.
Another downfall is that Machado is a rented player. He becomes a free agent this offseason and is most likely going to end up going to the Yankees if the Cubs want to make any type of push to get Bryce Harper. It’s a big risk that they would have to take and Theo and the front office will have to decide if it is all worth it in the end.
Getting Machado would be a Joe Maddon dream come true and would give them a leadoff hitter they very much need.
Don’t get your hopes up Cubs fans, a lot of teams will be coming to inquire about Machado and I expect the Cubs and Dodgers to make the biggest push for Machado.