Similar to many large market teams, the Chicago Cubs are routinely involved in hypothetical trade rumors. However, one of the Cubs rumors of late has sparked a lot of debate as it involves the organization having interest in an All-Star catcher.
According to Craig Mish of Siruis XM on Twitter, the Chicago Cubs are interested in moving on from Willson Contreras behind the plate prior to the start of next season. Although there are free agent options available to replace him, Mish also indicated that the organization is interested in acquiring a highly coveted backstop on the Miami Marlins, J.T. Realmuto.
Unlike the rumor by Jon Heyman of Fancred Sports that the New York Yankees may be willing to part with Gary Sanchez in exchange for Realmuto, it is not clear if the Cubs are hoping that Contreras would be able to headline a package for the Marlins catcher. As the Marlins would likely require additional players in return from the Yankees on top of Sanchez for Realmuto, it is not likely that the Marlins would accept a trade from the Cubs that is headlined by Contreras.
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Miguel Amaya is currently the only Cubs’ prospect on MLB Pipeline’s Top 100 Prospects list, so the organization may need to take a different approach in an attempt to acquire Realmuto. This approach would require the Cubs taking on the remaining salary owed to Wei-Yin Chen ($42.00 million) and Starlin Castro ($12.86 million).
As evidence by the trades that sent Christian Yelich to the Milwaukee Brewers and Giancarlo Stanton to the Yankees last offseason, the new front office of the Marlins currently places a large value on shedding guaranteed salary. Many other teams such as the Atlanta Braves, Houston Astros, and Philadelphia Phillies have much more to offer in terms of top overall prospects, so if the Cubs are willing to expand their payroll to new heights, it could give them a leg-up on the competition in trade talks for Realmuto.
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Realmuto put together an incredible slash-line last season of .277/.340/.484 alongside 74 runs batted in and 74 runs scored on a depleted team, so he would be a significant upgrade on offense for the Cubs. As he is also well-known for his pitch framing ability, Realmuto could be a great benefit to the very expensive starting rotation in Wrigleyville. The 2018 All-Star backstop has two years of team control remaining, so the added salary of Chen and Castro will be off of the books before Realmuto is eligible for free agency.