Youth Movement: Struggling Cubs to make unorthodox moves to save season

Andy Webb

It’s been a less than impressive start to the season for the Chicago Cubs. Disastrous starting pitching has brought up the question: should the Cubbies break up their young core of hitters to gain some frontline pitching? Any of these five guys could potentially turn the franchise around:

The Cubs are currently overloaded with young, talented hitters, but lack long-term reliable starters. Ace Jake Arrieta has a 4.60 ERA through 11 starts, and is a eligible for free agency after the 2017 season. His lack of consistency, and demands of a $200 million dollar deal could mean he pitches elsewhere in 2018.

Reigning Cy Young Award winner Jake Arrieta on Wednesday hinted that he’s worth more than the $175 million deal given to Stephen Strasburg and said he’s not ready to give a hometown discount to stay with the Chicago Cubs.

Jesse Rogers via ESPN

The 38-year-old John Lackey is in his final year of his contract, and a return to Chicago next season is unlikely. That means the Cubs pitching staff will be down two starters before the off-season begins. The team is struggling to find a fifth starter right now, and might be down two more soon.

Is it time for the Cubs to unload some of their young hitters to acquire reliable pitching? The emergence of youngster Ian Happ has created a bit of a logjam. It’s hard to find playing time for everyone when only eight hitters can play at a time.

The amount of depth the Cubs have accumulated over the years is astonishing. The Cubs could potentially move Kyle Schwarber or even Javier Baez, and it wouldn’t ruin the team or damage the offense.  An argument can be made that both players are better suited for other organizations anyway.

The Kyle Schwarber that destroyed the Cleveland Indians in the World Series last year has vanished. The Cubs now have a well below average defender in left field, and a struggling bat that continues to hurt the organization. The truth is that Schwarber is likely better off playing in the American League as a designated hitter.

As for Baez, he feels out of place on this organization. The Cubs have more than enough infielders, and Baez is looking like his ceiling is a home run or strikeout kind of player. The best move here could be to trade him while his value is high, and get back some much-needed pitching.

The next question becomes, what can the Cubs get for these young hitters? The best starter available at the trade deadline will likely be Texas Rangers ace Yu Darvish. The Cubs will be hesitant to give up young controllable hitters for a injury prone pitcher on a one-year deal. So what else is available?

All five of these pitchers could be potential frontline starters for the Cubs. They all have controllable deals, and maybe swapping Baez or Schwarber for one of these guys is not as crazy as it sounds. The Cubs could make a splash soon as the trade deadline continues to near.

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