This is the second article in a series exploring possible trade partners for the Cubs, as they look to upgrade before the August 1 trade deadline. Today, we look at the Oakland Athletics.
Two years ago, the Cubs made one of their most important trades in recent years when they sent starting pitchers Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel to the Oakland Athletics for a package that included their current starting shortstop, Addison Russell. The A’s were buyers that year and the Cubs were sellers, but here in 2016 the roles are reversed as the Cubs are World Series contenders and the A’s are going nowhere fast in the AL West. Could the two teams hook up for another midseason trade this year?
Oakland’s two most intriguing trade candidates are in the starting rotation, which is currently an area the Cubs don’t really need help with. Former Cub Rich Hill – who I can’t believe is still in the league – is actually having a career year at age 36. He figures to be a hot commodity as we near the trade deadline, and if they A’s do try to move him they have a good chance to get a solid haul from a desperate contender. This should be an easy pass.
Then there’s Sonny Gray, who’s currently on the disabled list but is expected back sometime in June and figures to be linked to the Cubs in many rumors when he returns. He would certainly require at least two top-of-the-line prospects/young players. Gray was having a very disappointing season before his injury, but let’s assume for a minute that he’s able to return to his form of the past few seasons. Even so, the Cubs don’t need more starting pitching right now; even thinking ahead to the postseason, would Gray really be a significantly better #3 option than John Lackey, Jason Hammel, or Kyle Hendricks? Would it be worth giving up, say, Javier Baez and Willson Contreras? I’d say not.
Out of the bullpen, the Cubs could use another left-hander. Sean Doolittle, an All-Star in 2014, is having another solid year and might be a fit. Veteran right-hander Ryan Madson is having a decent year as the closer.
As the Cubs look to add outfield depth, there are a few players worth mentioning. Josh Reddick was on his way to a career year before getting injured and will be out until close to the All-Star break. Coco Crisp could be an impact bat off the bench but so far has posted an atrocious -0.9 defensive Wins Above Replacement in 2016. Khris Davis hits home runs but doesn’t really do anything else.
By the way, Chris Coghlan, who the Cubs traded to make room to re-sign Dexter Fowler, is having a miserable year, batting just .158 with a putrid .534 OPS.
Most likely possibilities: Reddick hasn’t played left field since 2011, but if he could play there again, he could be a great addition to the Cubs’ roster. I also wouldn’t be surprised if the Cubs show interest in Doolittle. Should the Cubs try to pull off a trade for both players, hopefully it would not require – nor would it be worth – giving up any top prospects. As for Crisp and Davis, there are better outfield options out there.