Spiegel: Selling low doesn't make sense for Cubs now
I spent the offseason waiting for the Cubs to trade from their strength.
That strength is offensive prospects of course, with many of them possessing positional flexibility that includes shortstop.
How about those pitching-rich Mets? They need a shortstop. Starlin Castro for Noah Syndergaard? Javier Baez in a package with Arismendy Alcantara for Steven Matz?
Those talks happened, but no deal materialized. As we hit the trade deadline, the Cubs have needs and we all wonder how -- or if -- they will address them.
I hope they didn't wait too long.
All three of those players have had their value decrease. Castro is in the midst of the worst three-month offensive stretch of his career, though his defense has been more solid to the trained eye. For Baez, his injury came at a terrible time, either for a potential call-up or a trade, and he's just now close to returning at Triple A. And Alcantara fumbled the super-utility opportunity he was given in April, though he did make the Triple-A all-star team.
Selling low on any of those three right now doesn't make a ton of sense. Certainly not Castro.
So with the Cubs positioned to fight for a wild-card spot here in Year 1 of the competitive window, I suspect we may see the following trade activity by July 31: none.
Cubs fans should be fine with a theoretical decision to do nothing.
The fifth starter spot has been filled most capably by Tsuyoshi Wada, who is in the midst of a rehab that may bring him back in the next week. Other options there include Travis Wood, who has acquitted himself well in a few long stints out of the bullpen.
Call-ups Dallas Beeler, Donn Roach, and Clayton Richard have been a mixed bag, but Pierce Johnson is doing well at Double-A and could get a spot start call.
How many times might the Cubs need a fifth starter in the second half: 11, 12?
Are you sure you want to give up a prospect of consequence for a rental such as Jeff Samardzija, Kyle Lohse or Scott Kazmir?
An American League personnel exec told me that a prospect such as Triple-A third baseman Christian Villanueva would not be enough for even a middling rental such as Lohse. Or Dan Haren. That's the extent of a seller's market we have here.
The Cubs may still decide to get that starting pitching depth, having self scouted to the point that they think they'll be giving up someone who won't haunt them. This is especially true if Jason Hammel's injury is more problematic than initially feared.
But it would make plenty of sense if they do nothing.
The offense could use a jump-start, sure. It will come in the form of Kyle Schwarber, who was called up for today and hopefully beyond as a catcher and/or left fielder. Offense also may come in the form of a healthy Baez to play third base after the deadline, with Kris Bryant going to the outfield. Offense may come in a leap with the removal of Dexter Fowler, who had a terrible first half, and ideally Castro too.
I don't believe an offensive addition will come from the outside.
The bullpen has been mostly excellent, and will get a rehabbing Rafael Soriano added soon to the late innings mix.
It's a delicate balance for the front office to prioritize the moment and also protect the future. The last three years have proved valuable, and to damage flexibility by being too aggressive would be shortsighted.
This front office has never acted like that to date, and I don't expect it to change.
There may be a low end starting pitcher buy. But if there's nothing, nothing at all, please understand why.
• Matt Spiegel co-hosts "The Spiegel & Goff Show" 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday-Friday on WSCR 670-AM. Follow him on Twitter @mattspiegel670.