Powell: Will The Cubs Buy Or Rent At The Trade Deadline?

Theo Epstein (Kristin Decker/WGN Radio)

By Kevin Powell

Will the Cubs buy or rent at the trade deadline? That’s one of many questions surrounding the underperforming club with just a few weeks left until the non-waiver trade deadline. The Cubs are two games under .500 and they trail the Brewers by five and a half games in the division.

Hear my Cubs conversation with WGN’s Justin Kaufmann here
Hear my Cubs conversation with WGN’s Nick Digilio here

It’s been a messy first half for the Cubs, to say the least. Kyle Schwarber’s struggles. Miguel Montero getting cut. The Addison Russell drama.  But those are mostly minor hiccups. It’s been a head-scratching season because there aren’t any obvious excuses for them to be playing as poor as they are.

“We’re not happy,” manager Joe Maddon said after the Cubs lost their first-half finale. “Of course guys are frustrated, but that’s just a normal human reaction. We just have to get beyond that, and come back in the second half and play like we’re capable of playing. But only to learn from the first half….there’s nobody quitting or giving up or relinquishing anything right now. We are frustrated. We’re not playing our game.”

A trade is coming. There’s no question. But the current players can’t be counting on Theo to make a deal. The answers are already on the roster.

“Our biggest fixes are inside the clubhouse,” Epstein told reporters just last week. And he’s not wrong.

Will a trade help? Sure. But if the Cubs are going back to the postseason to contend for another World Series it’s because of the guys that won them a championship last year, not because of a player acquired via trade. And even if Theo didn’t believe that, he dished out the right message to the team.

If the Cubs do make a big splash it’ll likely cost them Ian Happ, Eloy Jimenez or Jeimer Candelario. Or some sort of combination of those three. Here are some of the latest trade rumors surrounding the Cubs.

There’s also been rumors of Kyle Scwharber to the Tigers in exchange for All-Star Michael Fulmer, but that seems far-fetched. As The Atheltic’s Sahadev Sharma put it:

I believe Cubs management is exploring every possible avenue to acquire a pitcher. If they do rent, it’ll likely be for a positional player. Catcher Alex Avila?

For now and the future, the Cubs need to buy pitching. But at what expense? We’ll find out some time within the next three weeks.

Kevin Powell covers Chicago baseball for WGN Radio and anchors sports on The Roe Conn Show with Anna Davlantes, M-F/3-7p. Follow on twitter @kpowell720