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To Save a Sinking Ship: The 2024 Chicago Cubs

Coming into the season, I was cautiously optimistic about the chances the Chicago Cubs would have at making the playoffs and competing with the Reds, Cardinals, and Brewers for the division. The additions of Micheal Busch, Shota Imanaga, Yency Almonte, and Hector Neris, with the return of Cody Bellinger, seemed to make the Cubs good enough to improve upon a solid 2023. That reality has not come to fruition in more ways than one. Outside of me overestimating the Reds this season (despite their series win over the Cubs), the Cubs season has gone completely off the rails as a 21-14 start by May 5 has turned into a 31-31 record, sitting in third place in the NL Central behind arch-rival St. Louis and Milwaukee.

Injuries to almost every significant player on the roster, regression, bad luck, and lack of improvements from certain players have caused a promising start for the S.S. Chicago Cubs to take on water, slowly sinking their 2024 season. Now, I will say that I expect most of the Cubs' offensive players to find their stride. Dansby Swanson, Cody Bellinger, Seyia Suzuki, Nico Hoerner, and, to a lesser extent, Christopher Morel all have track records of good offensive play. Yet, I think there are major areas of concern, with the catchers (Yan Gomes and Miguel Amaya) hitting a combined .178 (just ahead of the Miami Marlins catchers at .168), and the bullpen is the fourth worst in baseball at 4.61, ahead of the Angels, Rangers, and Rockies. With the season nearing the precipice of disaster for Chicago, here is my two-step plan to save the 2024 season for the Cubs.

1. Trade For a True Closer

As mentioned above, the Cubs' bullpen has been one of their biggest weaknesses in 2024. As of May 30, the Cubs were tied for second in baseball in blown saves with 11 (tied with the Diamondbacks, Tigers, Rays, Marlins, and Orioles). Adbert Alzolay, before falling to the IL, had five blown saves in nine chances. With him being moved to the 60-day IL and Julian Merryweather not expected back until after the All-Star break, trading for a full-time closer has become a must. I don't know how many more "Heart Attack" Hector (Neris) games I or anyone else can stomach.

For my money, the Cubs could go after the more reasonable option and the thermo-nuclear option. With the trades I have below, I'll let you decide which is which (all done on Baseball Trade Values).

This trade for Tanner Scott would be vital for a Cubs turnaround

The first deal is to trade for the Miami Marlins closer Tanner Scott. After the Marlins made the playoffs as the No. 6 seed last year, the sky came crashing down with the second-worst record in baseball (21-40). Scott hasn't been the reason why, though, as the lefty closer has seven saves in eight chances (1/3 of the Marlins wins), a 1.50 ERA, and is holding hitters to a line of .154/.309/.524 in 23 innings of work. With Scott being 30 and a free agent next year, the Cubs will only send No. 11 prospect 3B/1B BJ Murray and outfielder Cole Roederer to make the deal happen. Murray was solid in AA with the Tennesse Smokies (.263/.382/.462) going for 16 home runs and 34 doubles, he has struggled at the AAA level. In 49 games, the former FAU Owl is hitting just .195/.315/.337. A change in organization could be a good move for his career. The Cubs instantly get one of the best closers in the game and take a lot of high-leverage situations off the hands of Hector Neris, Marke Leiter Jr., and Hayden Wesneski. It also provides depth on the back end when Adbert Alzolay and Julian Merryweather return from their IL stints.

Despite giving up a ton of prospects, this trade for Mason Miller would be amazing

This is the deal to end all deals. If Jed Hoyer wants to go big and get the most electric arm in baseball, this is what it would take. In the trade, the Cubs would send their No. 2 prospect (No. 35 overall) Owen Cassie, No. 7 Jefferson Rojas (No. 95 overall), and No. 20 Brandon Birdsell heading the A's for Mason Miller. Miller has five years of team control and won't become a free agent until 2029, while the A's cash in on some big-time prospects. After beginning his career as a starter last year, he was moved to the bullpen and became a top-3 closer in baseball.

In 16 games, Miller has an ERA of 2.08, 0.86 FIP, and 11 saves in 12 opportunities. With a fastball that can reach triple digits regularly and a slider with a 46.4% whiff rate, Miller has become one of baseball's most devastating arms. While this would be a seismic trade for both sides, I don't see it happening. On the A's side of things, they are moving for Sacramento and then Vegas in the next couple of years, and they'll need a star player to keep fans coming to games. As for the Cubs side of things, I don't think the Cubs would be willing to trade two top 100 prospects for a closer. There is the chance he could be a long-term starter, which might make an offer more tempting, yet Miller blossomed into a star as a closer, so there's no guarantee he can return to the rotation. For many reasons, I see the Cubs trading for Tanner Scott to be their closer.

2. Make a Mega-Deal with Toronto

While things have been rough lately for the Cubs, they could be much worse. After losing Matt Chapman in the off-season, it has been a disappointing season for the Toronto Blue Jays. Their hopes of making it past the Wild Card round for the first time since 2016 are in shambles as they sit dead last in the American League East (28-32) and five games behind the Minnesota Twins for the final playoff spot. With Bo Bichette, Vladimir Guerrero Jr, and Danny Jansen hitting free agency this off-season or next, it would be wise to find assets for the future. In this trade, the Cubs would be acquiring Vladdy and Jansen for four prospects, including their No. 5 prospect, James Triantos, No. 9 Micheal Arias, No. 17 Cristisan Hernandez, and No. 20 Brandon Birdsell (Birdsell is still here since we did not complete the Mason Miller trade).

This would be a massive trade for the Cubs to pull off with the Blue Jays

Vladdy is having a solid season in 2024, with the former Silver Slugger swatting six home runs and 10 doubles while putting up a line of .296/.389/.417 (134 OPS+). He would immediately provide the offensive bump this Cubs lineup sorely needs. Jansen would slot in immediately as the starting catcher, leaving Yan Gomes to be DFA'd in the aftermath of the trade, leaving Miguel Amaya as the backup and a chance to learn from Jansen. The Elmhurst, Illinois native is having a career season both offensively and defensively for the Jays.

In 33 games, Jansen has a slash line of .274/.352/.496, with five home runs, 10 doubles, and a strikeout percentage of just 14.8%. While Jansen is 39th in caught stealing percentage on throws to second base (13% on min. 10 attempts), it would be a substantial upgrade over Miguel Amaya, who ranks 51st out of 52 qualified catchers at 4% caught stealing. While not on the level of J.T. Realmuto or Gabriel Moreno, Jansen could cut down on the running game and help his pitchers get a few extra outs than they have been getting.

The final roster would be the following:


2B: Nico Hoerner

RF: Seyia Suzuki

1B: Cody Bellinger

DH: Vladimir Guerrero Jr

3B: Christopher Morel

LF: Ian Happ

C: Danny Jansen

SS: Dansby Swanson

CF: Peter Crow-Armstrong


1B/2B: Micheal Busch

C: Miguel Amaya

OF: Mike Tauchman

1B/3B/DH: Patrick Wisdom

Pitching Staff:

SP1: Justin Steele

SP2: Shota Imanaga

SP3: Javier Assad

SP4: Jameson Taillion

SP5: Ben Brown/Jordan Wicks (when healthy)

LRP: Ben Brown

LRP: Kyle Hendricks (might be cut)/Hayden Wesneski (if Hendricks is cut)

MRP: Drew Smyly

MRP: Porter Hodge/Yency Almonte (when healthy)

MRP: Hayden Wesneski/Julian Merryweather (when healthy and if Hendricks is cut)

SU/Lefty Speicalist: Mark Leiter Jr.

SU: Hector Neris

SU: Adber Alzolay (when healthy)

CP: Tanner Scott

This massive shift in the roster provides the necessary improvements for the Cubs moving forward. They would now have a power bat in the middle of the order, an excellent two-way catcher, and an outstanding closer to clean up some of the Cubs' late-game issues. There is always a risk when you trade prospects for rentals. You could still find a way to miss the playoffs, and those prospects could turn into the players you hoped they would be.

Yet, as I said during my nearly 13-minute rant on Beer vs. Ivy on Monday, you can't be afraid you might fail as a GM. The Cubs need a jolt, just like they did at last year's trade deadline, where they held onto a Wild Card spot until September after trading for Jeimer Candelario and Jose Cuas. We have just over a month until the July 30 trade deadline, so time will tell if the Cubs will finally make the moves they've needed to do to get back to the playoffs for the first time since 2019.

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