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Cubs That Need to Go, Part 3

June 2nd, 2014 at 6:00 AM
By Tim Duxbury

'Emilio Bonifacio' photo (c) 2013, Keith Allison - license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

Here in part three of “Cubs that Need to Go” we have two more moves that the Chicago Cubs need to make before the July 31st trade deadline. Take a look.

 

Emilio Bonifacio:

Emilio Bonifacio may be the Cubs most valuable trade chip (aside from Jeff Samardzija) at this point in time. Bonifacio, who the Cubs signed for 2.5 million dollars this past offseason, has been one of the better leadoff men in all of baseball. So far in 49 games, Bonifacio is hitting .271 with 12 steals. He has slowed up a bit lately, hitting only .152 in has last ten games, but Bonifacio started off the 2014 season hotter than hot. Bonifacio began the 2014 campaign by going an unreal 11 or his first 16, and, to date, he is hitting .373 against left-handed pitching. But Bonifacio’s true value lies in his versatility. This year alone he has played four different positions for the Cubs, centerfield, second base, third base and shortstop. Combine this with his ability to hit from both sides of the plate and you have your self one heck of a super-utility man. Expect Bonifacio to be packaged with another player or two in exchange for at least one prospect.

 

A Third Baseman:

'STTX13_Olt_016' photo (c) 2013, Mike LaChance - license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

The Cubs have an over abundance of guys who can play the hot corner and it is time to unload at least one of them, if not more. Right now the Cubs viable options for future starters at third include: Mike Olt, Luis Valbuena, Kris Bryant, Christian Villanueva and Jeimer Candelario. And that’s not even taking into account Javier Baez, Starlin Castro or Arismendy Alcantara, who could all see time at the hot corner depending on how the infield shakes out. For starters, Kris Bryant will be a member of the Cubs for a long time to come, knock on wood. The only question is will his time in Chicago be spent at third base? And from there, the other four will fall in line. But for our purposes, lets assume that Bryant does not end up playing third base (because otherwise the Cubs might as well move all four). In that case moving Mike Olt makes the most sense. Olt is off to a terrible start at the plate, hitting just .165 with 50 strikeouts in only 45 games. He does have nine homeruns, but his inability to make consistent contact combined with his below average defense (Olt has a -0.2 defensive WAR so far this season according to baseball-reference.com) he is not worth keeping. Olt is still young, 25, and was the Texas Ranger’s top prospect just a few years ago; that and his power potential will make him easy to move. The other three are worth keeping for the time being. Valbuena, 28, has been a classic “4A” player (a player who succeeds at AAA but struggles in the big leagues) throughout his career. He has hit over .300 in each of his five seasons at AAA but owns a career .226 average in the big leagues. But this year may be his turning point as he is hitting .263 with a very impressive .384 on-base-percentage. He is also hitting .324 over his last ten games. Combine that with his ability to play multiple positions in the infield and he’s worth keeping around for another year or two. As for Villanueva and Candelario, a case can be made for keeping both at this point. Villanueva, 22, is a very promising talent who has shown the ability to hit for power and average at the lower levels. He has also shown the ability to steal bases. Villanueva is in AAA right now and is really just one good season away from making it to Chicago. Jeimer Candelario, 20, is also worth hanging on to because, like Villanueva, has shown that he possesses multiple tools and trading him now, before he is fully developed, could turn out to be a big mistake.

The bottom line is this: Expect the Cubs to move a third baseman, probably Olt, and no one else. But don’t be too surprised if they decide to package one of their minor leaguers to land a big prospect in return.

Tags: Arismendy Alcantara, Baseball, Chicago, Chicago Cubs, Christian Villanueva, Emilio Bonifacio, Javier Baez, Jeimer Candelario, Kris, Luis Valbuena, Mike Olt, MLB, Starlin Castro

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