#HugWatch Season

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The Chicago Cubs again jumped the market on trades this year, landing Jose Quintana in a rare Chicago-to-Chicago trade.  Although I feel that the Cubs as currently constructed can get to the playoffs (especially since everyone else in the division has sucked to varying extents), the myriad quotes from Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer and even manager Joe Maddon suggest that they aren’t done dealing just yet.  With just over a day left until the trade deadline, there is still plenty of time for late hug watching:

The most obvious name that can be dealt is Jeimer Candelario, who as of this date, and with the departure of Eloy Jimenez and Dylan Cease, is ranked at the top of the Cubs prospect lists.  He has no obvious everyday spot to play at barring major injuries to the major league core, so it makes sense that he would be the headliner to any subsequent deal.  Whether the Cubs move him now, or anyone else for that matter, is a mystery.  Of course, they have the August waiver deadline as well, but those trades are a bit more complicated to pull off, so Monday’s off day (which happens to be the non-waiver deadline) is probably when we see a major trade executed.

I will reiterate that I don’t think wholesale moves are needed, nor should they blow the prospect load (which has taken a substantial hit since the Quintana trade) for a rental.  The Cubs as of right now have a decent core, albeit with an inconsistent offense as they work through growing pains.  The rotation is fine, although the Cubs do need to replace at least two rotation spots.  This is a huge reason why the team has been linked to names with remaining control like Sonny Gray and Justin Verlander.  Gray is probably a long shot since there is competition for his services, and Verlander has a ton of money attached to him that the Cubs appear to be balking at.  Various relievers have also been tied to the Cubs’ wish list, but despite their occasional hiccups, I think the current bullpen is fine.

The backup catcher position is also in play, with the aftermath of the Miguel Montero situation forcing Willson Contreras to receive many more games than originally planned.  The latest lineup, with Anthony Rizzo out due to back soreness (probably just a precaution), doesn’t lend confidence to Victor Caratini‘s backup role:

It might mean nothing, and maybe it’s because John Lackey is pitching and might bite his head off, but I would have put Caratini behind the plate with Willson resting his legs at first.  With the off day on Monday, they probably figure Willson can rest then, but I guess we will find out what happens on this front, since the Cubs have been tied to various backup catching options outside the organization as well.

Sunday’s series finale in Milwaukee will be the last chance to see a Cubs hug watch before the trade deadline, so keep your eyes peeled.


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About Rice Cube

Rice Cube is the executive vice president of snark at World Series Dreaming. He loves all things Cubs, with notable exceptions (specifically, the part of Cubs fandom that pisses him off). Follow on Twitter at cubicsnarkonia

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