Hug Watch 2014

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With the Major League Baseball non-waiver trade deadline now two days away, fans of all teams need to watch for the hugs that precede the trade of a teammate.

The Chicago Cubs already got a jump start on every other team when they traded Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel on Independence Day, which netted them a good return of Addison Russell and then some. The Cubs also traded Darwin Barney yesterday which was a result of his being designated for assignment after Arismendy Alcantara exploded on the scene as his “temporary replacement” when Barney’s wife was having a baby. Personally I am surprised that they even got a player to be named later or him, which was their best offer.

The Cubs likely will make a few more trades before the July 31 deadline passes, and while we have an idea who we might like to see traded, there are three players we know will be here for a while longer.

Starlin Castro, Anthony Rizzo and (thanks to a tweet from David Kaplan) Jake Arrieta are as close to untouchable as you can get on the major league roster.

Everyone else though is expendable, and I am sure the Cubs will listen to offers on just about everyone else on the Major League roster.

The Cubs have any number of relievers that other teams might be interested in. Left handed pitchers James Russell and Wesley Wright might bring a decent return, teams always crave left handed pitching. Perhaps Carlos Villanueva could be among the trade targets. He might also bring a decent return from a team who is looking for pitching.

With starting pitching, as much as we would love to see Edwin Jackson traded (and the New York Yankees have been rumored to have interest, though that rumor has cooled recently) there is not much that can realistically be done with him at this point. Cub fans may just have to come to the realization that Jackson may be with the Cubs until his contract expires after the 2016 season.

However, there is another starting pitcher Cub fans might want to look out for giving up hugs, and that is Travis Wood. With his recent struggles this year, some fans and perhaps the baseball management team might be losing faith in him. They might well be considering trading Wood if they can find a good deal. Much like with Russell and Wright, left handed pitching is a premium and the Cubs might get a hefty return if he is on the market.

Other players who might be on the move before Thursday’s deadline are Emilio Bonofacio, Justin Ruggiano, Nate Schierholtz, Chris Coghlan and Luis Valbuena. All of them have varying levels of value, both with the Cubs and other teams. I would not be surprised to see one or all of them moved. I would not mind them staying, but also would not lose any sleep if they were all moved as I doubt any will be around once the team is in contention again.

Of course, the Cubs might sit tight and hold on to everyone they currently have. Perhaps they will not be able to find a trade partner willing to give up a package they feel these guys are worth. Maybe the Cubs think they are all worth hanging on to and will not dangle them to those teams talented enough to be in the playoff race.

The deadline will come at the tail end of the Cubs series against the Colorado Rockies Thursday afternoon. From now until then, any time you see a player pulled from the game, rumors will fly that they have been traded, even if they have not. But the real tip off that a trade has been made, is the goodbye & good luck hug.

Stay tuned Cub fans. Hug Watch 2014 is well under way.

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