As the Chicago Cubs reach the end of June and move ever closer to the non-waiver trade deadline, discussions about whether or not they should make a move to improve the team are growing stronger.
There is no doubt that the Cubs are in serious need of another starting pitcher, preferably one who is seen as a top of the rotation starter who can push guys down in the order. Pitchers like Cole Hamels and Johnny Cueto are the two biggest names that are discussed the most at the moment. Both pitchers would fit the mold of top of the rotation pitcher quite nicely, but would come at a hefty price that would make a dent in the Cubs strong farm system. Both are number one starters and would instantly make the Cubs starting rotation one of the more feared in the league when you add in Jon Lester, Jake Arrieta and Jason Hammel.
Both are likely pipe dreams, as the prospect cost might be too much for Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer to agree to, so they might have to look at the secondary market of Mike Leake, Dan Haren (who the Cubs almost acquired in a trade for Carlos Marmol), Scott Kazmir or even Jeff Samardzija. All will still cost a decent prospect, but would not cost nearly as much as the top two fish in the trade market.
If the Cubs are interested in trading for some more bullpen help, despite the amazing performance they have put up this month, that will cost even more prospects. Aroldis Chapman is the biggest name rumored to be on the market, though the Cincinnati Reds are talking as though he is off limits. Tyler Clippard is another option, though the Cubs might be happy with in house options with the return of Neil Ramirez being close and the potential that Rafael Soriano brings.
No matter who the Cubs decide to bring in via trade, they need to be very careful and think long and hard about the trades. While the Cubs are seemingly in desperate need of a starting pitcher, and might want to add in a bullpen arm or two, this is something that they need to think long and hard about.
While the Cubs are in serious need of pitching help, especially in the rotation, adding someone might do more harm than good. This team has some amazing chemistry working for them, and you do not want to mess with that too much. With any trade that is made, Theo and Jed need to make sure that the player they are bringing in will mix in well with the young core, and not dramatically change the dynamic atmosphere these kids have created. If you bring in a great player who is a bad clubhouse guy, that can do a lot of damage to the team.
I have never been a fan of the chemistry argument, or that teammates must get along to have success because there are several examples exist of that not being true; the Athletics of the 70s disprove that. But with this team being as young as they are, you do not want to mess too much with what is working. Adding in a stud starting pitcher will help the talent on the team, and make them a more legitimate threat in the pennant race, but ruining what this team has built up in the clubhouse by bringing in a bad seed could counter what ever positives the addition brings.
For that matter, I hope that Theo and Jed do not make too many changes to try and make this team better. You do not have to look too far to see how making too many moves to improve your team can hurt. Last years Athletics made a number of moves to improve their chances of winning the World Series.
Already the division leader with the best record in baseball on July 4th, the A’s started making a number of moves to make their great team even better. They had to fight hard to win the second wild card. In my opinion, they made too many changes to improve their team, and that wound up biting them in the butt.
Now, Epstein and Hoyer are not Billy Beane, in my (perhaps biased) opinion, they are smarter than he is. I do not doubt that they see what this young team is doing, and they know that they should not mess too much with what they have. At the same time, they know they need to add to improve some of the weaker aspects of the team, such as the back end of the rotation. They know they need to add some talent, and that whomever they add needs to be able to blend in with the clubhouse and not be a deterrent.
Theo and Jed have their hands full. Adding a player which will improve their chaces of winning, without destroying the team in the process.