Trade from the 25-man, or pay for Verlander?

There are just four days until the MLB Trade Deadline, and the Chicago Cubs are actively shopping and looking to add pieces for the stretch run. The Cubs made the first big trade of the season two weeks ago when they acquired Jose Quintana from the Chicago White Sox in exchange for their top two prospects Eloy Jimenez and Dylan Cease.

While Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer finally acquired the young controllable starter they had been looking for all season, they still have a few needs entering the non-wavier trade deadline on July 31, including a high leverage reliever, backup catcher and another starter.

After acquiring Aroldis Chapman last season and Quintana this season, the Cubs have depleted much of the front line talent in their system, making it a little more difficult to make another big splash. While it may not take much to acquire a backup catcher, the reliever and starter may be a different story. And with Jimenez and Cease already moved, it may mean looking at players on the 25-man roster.

And in that regard, the biggest names who have been thrown around in rumors are Addison Russell and Kyle Schwarber.

Russell has also had a down year and has looked lost at the plate for much of this season and with investigation being conducted by MLB into the domestic violence allegations made against Russell still underway, I’m not sure how many teams want to touch that situation until it is resolved. Despite losing playing time to Javier Baez, the Cubs still believe in his talent. The same can be said for Schwarber.

Since returning from his Iowa hiatus earlier in the month, Schwarber hasn’t been great, but he looks to be in a better place than earlier in the season. He’s hitting .280 with five homers and 8 RBI since July 6 and has posted a 1.048 OPS in that same span.

While the Cubs would listen on Russell and Schwarber, I have a hard time believing that they would move either unless they were getting a front line starter like a Chris Archer, who isn’t on the market, in return. Which turns our attention to outfielder Albert Almora Jr.

Almora is in a weird position right now as he’s too good to play in Triple-A Iowa, but he isn’t getting a ton of at-bats as he’s only playing against left-handed starters. With Ian Happ playing everyday and Jon Jay playing so well the last month-plus, Almora has been the odd man out. Both Almora and the Cubs would benefit from a trade, but he may not be enough to make a significant move.

While Almora has value and may be the most expendable player on the major league roster, acquiring one of the bigger names on the market may cost the Cubs more than they want to give up, which makes trading for the Detroit Tigers’ Justin Verlander much more attractive.

Verlander is owed $78 million over the next three seasons, and while this is a lot of money for an aging veteran who hasn’t exactly been setting the world on fire (4.60 ERA in July), the Tigers are going to have to eat a large chunk of the money in any deal.  Verlander would come to the Cubs with lots of miles on his arm, but he would come to the National League facing one less hitter and wouldn’t be expected to be the Cubs ace, just a serviceable arm for the next two to three years.

The Cubs have some decisions to make over the next few days and those decisions will effect the club not only this year, but in the years to come. A move for Verlander isn’t the sexy move fans may want, but that kind of move just might not be conceivable at this point. If money and a lower level prospect are all it costs the Cubs to land Verlander, that’s a win in my book.

Lead photo courtesy Rick Osentoski—USA Today Sports

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