The Cubs own the best record in baseball (24-6), but that does not mean the front office is not always looking for ways to upgrade the roster.
Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer have not only focused on adding top talent to the big league roster and organization but those players must also fit into the clubhouse where it’s all about winning and the team, not about personal goals or achievements.
Jim Bowden reported Sunday that possible trade targets for the Cubs to replace Kyle Schwarber and a struggling Jorge Soler in left field include Carlos Gonzalez (Rockies), Jay Bruce (Reds), Nick Markakis (Braves), Ryan Braun (Brewers) and Josh Reddick (A’s).
Of the list of outfielders Bowden says are possibilities only a couple of those players would be a fit for the Cubs both on and off the field.
With Kyle Schwarber expected back in Spring Training, Jason Heyward under contract through at least the 2018 season and Albert Almora Jr. knocking on the door, the front office would likely stay away from players with multiple years remaining on their contract.
Nick Markakis is signed through the 2018 season and is owed $10.5 million for the 2017 and 2018 seasons, plus the remainder of his $10.5 million salary for this season. Ryan Braun has more issues than the four-years and guaranteed $76 million he is owed from 2017-20. Braun is a right-handed hitter that does not fit the Cubs on the field or in the clubhouse.
Jay Bruce can be a free agent after this season. Bruce has a club option worth $13 million for the 2017 season that includes a $1 million buyout. Bruce makes $12.5 million this season, the last guaranteed year on his contract. Bruce has continued to struggle offensively this season (.234/.284/.467/.752, six doubles, two triples, five home runs).
Carlos Gonzalez is under contract through the 2017 season. Gonzalez’s salary for next year is $20 million and his contract includes $1 million assignment bonus if traded. Gonzalez would be owed the remainder of his $17 million for this season if moved, plus the bonus. Gonzalez is healthy and producing at the plate (.312/.358/.472, six doubles, one triple, four home runs, .830 OPS) for a Rockies team that can put runs on the board.
Josh Reddick is a free agent after this season. Reddick avoided arbitration with $6.58 million contract for this season and is a favorite of Theo Epstein. Reddick in left field would give Maddon another left handed bat and an outstanding defender for his outfield.
Reddick has a .319/.375/.474 line after 31 games with six doubles, four home runs and a .849 OPS. Reddick has been linked to the Cubs now by Bruce Levine, Nick Cafardo and Jim Bowden.
During his Sunday show on MLB Network Radio (The Front Office), Bowen mentioned that it could take a package of OF Billy McKinney and OF Eloy Jimenez to acquire Reddick from the A’s. Billy Beane will be looking for a good return, especially from the Cubs, for Reddick.
The Rockies are under .500 (15-16) but only a game back as of May 9 of the Dodgers (16-15) and Giants (17-16). The A’s, on the other hand, are 14-18 after losing two in a row and have fallen back to third place in the AL West.
The Cubs were linked to Carlos Gonzalez throughout the off-season and he could be a possibility before the deadline (Aug. 1). Of the left fielders that Bowden reported as options for the Cubs, the only fit would appear to be Josh Reddick as the beginning of the second week in May.