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As the Chicago Cubs look to seize control of the NL Central, these two dark horse trade acquisitions could help them get it done.
Throughout the offseason, the Chicago Cubs were committed to offloading salary so the 2021 season looked unlikely to yield winning. But entering Wednesday they are tied for the lead in a tightly-packed NL Central with a 38-29 record, and they should be a buyer between now and the trade deadline.
In particular, the Cubs should be looking to bolster their starting rotation. They could go after a big name like (the now injured) Max Scherzer, or look to fortify depth with a less costly acquisition. Reinforcing the lineup in certain spots has to be on the radar too, and there should be opportunities there.
Ownership may not want to take on future money in any trades, but facing the offseason departures of Kris Bryant, Javier Baez and Anthony Rizzo they should be in win-now mode for 2021. On that note, these two dark horse trade candidates could push the Cubs to the top of the NL Central.
2 underrated trade targets to help the Cubs win the Central
2. Starling Marte
Entering Wednesday, the Cubs have gotten the seventh-best OPS in all of baseball from their center fielders. But the .236 batting average they’ve gotten from the position is 20th, with a .193 mark that is dead-last in baseball over the last 15 days. Over their same 15 days, the Cubs’ center fielders have a .646 OPS (27th).
Enter Starling Marte, who is hitting .333/.432/.538 (.970 OPS) with five home runs, 15 RBI and eight stolen bases for the Miami Marlins right now. The Marlins are also last in the NL East, nine games back of the first-place Mets going into Wednesday. So they may start looking to sell, and Marte makes sense as a trade target for contenders in the final year of his contract.
Marte is making $12.5 million this year. So if the Cubs are willing to take on around half of that money, and despite pleas of poverty that’s not unreasonable, he’s an ideal trade target to fortify center field and make the lineup deeper for a last run with what’s left of the 2016 championship core.