Marcus Stroman

Could Stroman, other Cubs' stars be trade deadline castaways? MLB insider Ken Rosenthal weighs in

Ken Rosenthal analyzes how the Cubs could react at the trade deadline

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The Chicago Cubs check all the boxes to become sellers at the trade deadline.

The deciding factor on their prospective market surrounds their intentions for the season. The NL Central is up for grabs. Alongside the AL Central, it's one of the worst divisions in baseball.

Do they want to vie for the division title and push for a playoff berth? Or would Jed Hoyer and Carter Hawkins favor reloading for a more realistic title run?

"That's why they look at this thing realistically and decide this year isn't our year," MLB reporter Ken Rosenthal said on MLB Network. "We want to be competitive long-term but never envisioned this year as that particular season.

"So, if that was the case, then Marcus Stroman is in play, then Cody Bellinger is in play, then Kyle Hendricks is in play."

The Cubs started off the season red hot. They represented the sixth-best offense in baseball backed by the 14th-best pitching staff in the majors for April.

Since then, they've fallen off. Drastically. In May, they sported the sixth-worst offense and seventh-worst pitching staff in the majors. They fell off the division, currently owning the fourth-place spot with a 30-37 record.

But, they are only 4.5 games back on the lead. Here's where the discourse for the season begins. Should the Cubs trek forward with their current cohort, hoping the results improve and they emerge victorious from a horrid division?

Or is it time to sell high, keep building, and remain patient?

One sell-high move the Cubs could make, as Rosenthal mentioned, is trading Stroman. He's top 10 in ERA and WHIP in MLB; opposing batters are batting an absurd .191 off him this season. It goes without saying he's one of MLB's hottest commodities.

"He's pitching like an ace," Rosenthal said. "He would be the best guy out there. This is probably the best-starting pitcher that could be traded."

Another vital note on Stroman: he wants an extension with the Cubs. But, the Cubs aren't interested in negotiating an extension with their ace at this time, according to the pitcher himself.

The Cubs responded, dutifully, to Stroman's Twitter reaction.

“I love the fact he wants to be here," Hoyer said. "We’ve had conversations about it. I’m not going to disclose what we’ve talked about. But there is dialogue. We’ll keep that in-house.”

MORE: Marcus Stroman tweets that Cubs aren't interested in exploring extension now

Bellinger acts as a strong rental piece for a contending team looking for a strong left-handed bat. He's batting terrifically, as opposed to the last two seasons Bellinger's recorded from the plate. He's slashing .271/.337/.493 with seven home runs and 20 RBIs. The Cubs signed him to a one-year deal, hence his tag as a rental option.

On Thursday, he returned to the Cubs' lineup fresh off the injured list. The Cubs posted him at first base as a way to ease him back into the game. He's played in just 37 games this season with the Cubs.

All things considered, Hendricks offers up trade value through 23.1 innings pitched this season. Just a few weeks ago, he made his return to the mound. He hadn't pitched since last July after recovering from a capsular tear in his right shoulder.

This season, he holds a 3.09 ERA, having allowed eight runs through four starts. He has 15 strikeouts and six walks on his season résumé, too.

The Cubs have until Aug. 1 to decide which path they will lead the franchise down.

Will they stay on course? Or will they shuffle the deck with an eye on the future?

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