Despite the recent sweep to the Cardinals, the Cubs have an elite team with perhaps as good of a chance as they’ve ever had to end their championship drought. They have lots of promising young players at both the major and minor league level. It’s to be expected that commentators will speculate over the coming weeks that they should trade for arguably the game’s best player.
Mike Trout has two MVP awards, two second-place MVP finishes, and a career Wins Above Replacement (WAR) of 41.7 – and he hasn’t even turned 25 yet. Unfortunately for him, he’s on an Angels team that is going nowhere in the American League West. They currently sit in fourth place at 31-41 and are in need of a complete rebuild, though they don’t seem to have acknowledged that yet. Trout would bring back a king’s ransom in a trade, which would greatly speed up the process.
So, if the Angels decide to make Trout available, should the Cubs show interest?
My answer: an emphatic no. Sure, add him to a Cubs team that is already dominating the National League and they’d almost certainly become unstoppable. But what would it take to get him? Kyle Schwarber and Javier Baez would almost certainly have to be involved, but it would likely take three and maybe even four more upper-echelon prospects, when we consider how poor the Angels’ farm system currently is and how many other teams would be in the Trout sweepstakes.
The Cubs have spent years working really hard to build up a team, not only that is strong at the major league level, but that also has a farm system that continues to replenish the major league roster as we’ve already seen this year. I would hate to see them give away all the fruits of their labor for just one player. And who’s to say that Trout will continue to play at this level in the future? It’s hard to imagine any player, even one as young as Trout, to continue a stretch like this for many more years.
Assuming that the Cubs don’t get involved in this, are there any other players on the Angels that could help the Cubs via trade? Looking at the bullpen, where the Cubs need the most help, there’s veteran right-handed closer Huston Street, who has 322 career saves. He was having a solid year before getting knocked around in two of his last three outings. Cam Bedrosian has given up just four earned runs in 24.2 innings, but since he’s only 24, the Angels may decide he is part of their future.
On offense, there isn’t much worth considering. Veteran infielder Yunel Escobar is batting .311 and might be a good addition to the bench. Meanwhile, Kole Calhoun is quietly turning into a pretty good hitter, though he mainly plays right field (currently held down by Jason Heyward) and so far this year has posted a -0.5 defensive WAR.
As for Albert Pujols – well, I’m sure the Angels are already counting down the days until the end of his contract in 2021.
Most likely possibilities: Escobar would be a possibility if the Cubs decide they need a backup infielder, but I’d say Street is the player the Cubs are most likely to show interest in. If they don’t care whether the help they get is from the right or left side, he may be a cheaper alternative to the Yankees’ Aroldis Chapman and Andrew Miller. He’s proven himself over the years but hopefully would pitch better than he has lately.
Brian Johnston is the author of the book The Art of Being a Baseball Fan, his story of following the 2015 Chicago Cubs, available on Amazon. He lives in St. Joseph, Michigan with his wife and two children.
Image source: Keith Allison via Wikimedia Commons