COMMENTARY | Let's get one thing straight: The Chicago Cubs are 100% sellers here in 2013.
Even though they will shipping off more major-league-ready talent than they'll be receiving, what the Cubs will be looking for in terms of returns should be in line with what the team is looking for for the future. Though the major league roster is still riddled with holes, the Cubs have done a strong job of quickly restocking their minor leagues. As the trade deadline approaches, here are three areas the Cubs should be looking to improve.
Prospects, prospects, prospects
Even though I just finished saying the Cubs have done a nice job building up their minor leagues, they still have plenty of work to do (and can you really have too many prospects?). While there are certain positions that require more attention than others (more on that in a bit), the more upper-tier talent the Cubs can stock their minor leagues with the better.
Having highly-touted prospects is great -- think Jorge Soler, Javier Baez, Albert Almora, Arodys Vizcaino, Kris Bryant -- but it is easy to forget how many actually come through versus how many end up busting. Vizcaino is still working his way back from Tommy John surgery, Bryant hasn't even signed yet, and Soler now has a stress fracture in his left tibia. The Cubs don't really have any top-tier trade chips -- Matt Garza is probably the closest -- so I doubt high-end prospects will be in the mix for the Cubs around the deadline. For this particular trade deadline, it should be a quantity-over-quality affair. Get as many mid-level prospects as you can and hope you find a diamond in the rough.
I haven't heard much about the catcher position when it comes to the Cubs and I'm really surprised I haven't. When looking at many of the Cubs' (eventual) upgrades, the catcher position seems to be the most ignored. Soler and Almora have been signed in the outfield, Starlin Castro got an extension at shortstop, Antony Rizzo at first, and -- presuming he signs -- Bryant is a possibility for the hot corner (maybe Josh Vitters too). Baez plays shortstop but is fair game to be moved to third at some point as well.
Right now, Welington Castillo is the end-all-be-all of catchers in Chicago. He's performed fairly well and is only 26, but the Cubs have almost nothing in the long term behind him. Willson Contreras is one possibility in Single-A, but he's far enough out that it's impossible to know how far he's going to develop. The Cubs won't be able to get a top prospect, but again, quantity over quality right now.
The Cubs need help in relief pitching too, but the starters should be the first concern. The Cubs have overloaded on pitchers in the draft since Theo Epstein took over, but the old saying goes that you can never have too many quality pitchers in your system.
The only pitcher locked up for the Cubs is Edwin Jackson (3-10, 5.84 ERA), who also happens to be pitching the worst of all the starting rotation. Travis Wood has been a great surprise and will more than likely be kept around. Matt Garza could very easily be traded and the Cubs are yet to sign Jeff Samardzija to a long-term deal (though they almost assuredly will). Scott Feldman will likely be traded as well. Pitchers are usually a quantity-over-quality affair to begin with since gems and busts are found in all corners.
Brian is a lifelong Chicago Cubs follower. Living in Illinois his entire life has given him a chance to closely follow and report Chicago sports as a freelance writer through Yahoo! Contributor and Yahoo! Sports . He is also a senior in college majoring in English and Creative Writing. You can follow him on Twitter @bdavis_sports.
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