The Chicago Cubs (28-37) find themselves in one of the most troubling dilemmas in all of sports. Stay the course and hope their fortunes improve in a fairly open division. Or be practical about the team's current trajectory and try to maximize return value on a couple players who should generate considerable market interest.

While a six-and-a-half game deficit makes it tempting to trudge forward with the roster intact, this organization could benefit tremendously going forward if they reluctantly play the role of sellers ahead of the 2023 MLB trade deadline.

A lot can change by the time Aug. 1 rolls around, but the Cubs have to really look at their ceiling this season. Is this a playoff team as currently constructed? A weak lineup and unreliable bullpen should make that answer abundantly clear. Baseball is generally a sport of highs and lows, but banking on a sudden turnaround just seems ill-advised.

Assuming they remain in No Man's Land, or drift below that, general manager Carter Hawkins should be open for business. Here are 2 early players the Cubs should consider dealing going into the MLB trade deadline.

2. Cody Bellinger CF

After back-to-back losing seasons, the Cubs put a band-aid on their roster by making a lot of short-term moves this past offseason. This get-relevant-quick scheme has done little to improve their NL standing, but it has left them with multiple successful reclamation projects that they can now flip.

Fans may push back a little on the Cody Bellinger signing being a rousing success, as a great April gave way to a poor May (.228 batting average, no home runs). But he is in a much better spot than he was the last two years with the Los Angeles Dodgers. His slugging is up 100 points and he still has a solid glove in center field. If Bellinger can prove the seven homers he belted in April are no fluke, then several teams will inquire about the 2019 MVP.

Outfield depth is always coveted at the deadline. Health is always a concern when it comes to Bellinger,- he is currently working his way back from a bruised left knee– but there is no risk in taking a chance on a one-year contract for the last two months of the season. The Cubs can really pitch Cody Bellinger's upside to potential buyers and come away with a solid player in return.

And they could always give him another call during Winter Meetings.

1. Marcus Stroman SP

Right-handed starting pitcher Marcus Stroman has finally elevated his game to the next level. Always a reliable, All-Star caliber hurler, the 32-year-old is now competing for the NL Cy Young. Despite the team's record, he has been a fantastic pickup for Chicago.

Stroman has a player option at the end of the season, and you better believe he is going to use it. The Cubs should do what they can to retain him, but his value may never be higher than it is right now. They must capitalize.

Just like with Bellinger, the organization could always make another push for the veteran in the offseason. Sure, that philosophy rarely works out, but the Cubs can make it happen if they are serious enough. No asset is more valuable at the trade deadline than a top starting pitcher.

Whether or not Marcus Stroman is worth that market price is irrelevant. There are many underachieving teams who will be desperate enough to offer a good haul for his services. Hawkins and the front office will never stop kicking themselves if they let the expressive star walk for nothing.

That needs to be theme of the whole trade deadline for the Cubs. Do not let any return value go wasted. It is difficult to waive the white flag, but this franchise needs to carve out a more long-term route to get back into relevancy. Trading these short-term players can maybe accomplish that.