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Cubs ready to have a fire sale ahead of trade deadline

Cubs trade deadline

It wasn’t long ago that the Chicago Cubs were in first place in the NL Central and looking like buyers ahead of the trade deadline. Since a combined no-hitter against the Los Angeles Dodgers a few weeks ago, the Cubs have lost 12 of 13 games and are heading into full-on sell mode, according to The Athletic.

Cubs president Jed Hoyer spoke before an embarrassing 8-0 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies and seems clearly ready to make deals:

“We’ve believed in these guys since 2015,” Hoyer said Thursday before the Cubs’ 8-0 loss to the Phillies at Wrigley Field. “They’ve had a ton of success, and I would never count these guys out. But 11 days ago, we were certainly fully on the buy side of this transaction and everyone was calling about that. Obviously, people are now calling to see which players are available, so it’s a very different scenario than we expected. Life comes at you fast.”

Core players Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Javier Baez and Willson Contreras are all trade candidates, though The Athletic reports a Contreras deal doesn’t seem likely. Closer Craig Kimbrel is almost sure to go given he has returned to form as one of the most dominant closers in MLB, and he could bring back a decent haul as the franchise tries to replenish its farm system.

There are some complicating factors when it comes to pulling off trades:

The landscape, however, is more complicated than fans might believe. Buyers no longer pay a huge price for rental players. The Cubs’ pro scouting department is depleted. Less information on prospects is available than in the pre-COVID days. And Hoyer has a maze of expiring contracts to sort through, which ones to keep, which ones to move.

To access upper-tier talent, the Cubs might need to pay down contracts, just as they said they were prepared to take on salary as buyers this summer. The deadline might be an opportunity for chairman Tom Ricketts to answer critics who believe he is unwilling to wield the franchise’s financial might.

The Cubs are in a tough spot as Hoyer tries to navigate their future. He’s hesitant to say Chicago is going into a rebuild, but there’s likely going to be a good amount of roster turnover in the coming years. While the rebuild may not be as drastic as it was when Theo Epstein took over about a decade ago, there’s still a lot of work to be done.

It’s time for a fire sale.