Big bro Contreras back atop Cubs Trade-Chip Power Rankings


During his lengthy State of the Cubs address with media last week, team president Jed Hoyer was asked in the context of the Cubs’ 10-game losing streak whether his thoughts had begun to shift toward the trade deadline — whether that might even be the positive approach to take with the season already looking sunk in June.

“We talked about that last year when we were in first place until we had a long losing streak,” Hoyer said of the 11-game skid June 25 through July 6 that spiked the Cubs from a first-place tie to nine games out in the division race.

“We had a bad situation at that point; we were not going to compete for the postseason,” he said. “And with that we tried to take that bad situation and find something positive.

“So, yeah, I think that is the case. That is 100 percent not where my mind is this morning, but it’s a fair question.”

The Cubs split the next four games after Hoyer spoke that day, entering this week’s road trip to Pittsburgh and St. Louis.

But whether the trade deadline was on his mind that morning, it’s front-of-mind for the organization — from the guys in the clubhouse, all the way up the hierarchy — with the losing streak over, the season still sunk, the Cubs on a 101-loss pace and the Aug. 2 trade deadline six weeks away.

The Cubs traded nine veterans off the roster last July — including core All-Stars Anthony Rizzo, Javy Báez and Kris Bryant in a 20-hour span.

And whether that many get shipped out this time around might be the only unknown at this point.

With that, we present the this week’s Trade Deadline Power Rankings of Cubs trade chips:

1. Willson Contreras (last week: 2) — The Cubs’ biggest-name certainty to be traded returns to the top spot after a one-week absence, fresh off the highlight of his season, when he got a chance to face his little brother, William, on the field for the first time at any level.

His 3-for-5 performance (he even stole a base against little bro on a first-and-third play designed to draw a throw) was just one of two three-hit games during a big week of hitting for the presumptive National League starting catcher in the All-Star Game — bringing his MLB-catcher leading offensive binge this year to .283 with 12 homers and a .927 OPS through Sunday.

And keep in mind his value only is increased in this year’s market by the universal DH — and, incrementally, by the fact he presumably left $625,000 on the table by settling his arbitration case with the team at the midpoint earlier this month instead of taking the Cubs to a hearing (making the salary to be prorated $9.625 million instead of the $10.25 million he might have won).

2. David Robertson (last week: 1) — A rare blemish against the Padres Thursday — when he gave up a home run and a walk in a close game — is all it took to knock the Cubs’ top reliever from the top spot in a close call.

Robertson’s 1.82 ERA and back-to-his-prime-type high-leverage work in particular — in what’s shaping up as his first full season since 2018 — is sure to draw the most attention from most teams as the Cubs start weighing offers on their trade chips; every contender can use a guy like this.

3. Ian Happ (last week: 3) — Happ is one of the Cubs’ top two hitters this year, which isn’t the surprise as much as the week-to-week consistency of the production has been, from both sides of the plate. To wit: He had only one extra-base hit last week, but went 9-for-25 with two walks and reached base in every game.

That kind of production, along with some exceptional fielding in left and an additional year of club control after 2022, is going to keep Happ a top trade target on the Cubs roster the next six weeks — unless they take him off the market with extension talks.

4. Chris Martin (last week: 5) — Martin and Mychal Givens both had rough spots last week, but Martin moves past Givens into the No. 4 spot in part on the strength of his World Series experience and in part because the Power Rankings geek squad said his FIP means he’s pitching better this season. (Editor’s note: Whatever that is.)

5. Mychal Givens (last week: 4) — Givens had navigated around traffic well enough all season to look like an especially strong trade piece entering last week, but that four-run, three-walk inning against the Padres not only crushed his season ERA but was also his second three-walk inning in 11 days. Not what the selling team wants to see when the scouts of the buyers start showing up this time of year.

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