The recent trade between the A's and the Cubs was unfortunate for the Blue Jays, as they had expressed strong interest in both Jeff the Shark and Jason Hammel. The disappearance of those two pitchers from the potential trade market will make the Jays’ task of finding pitching help that much more difficult.
But as Winnie once said, "a pessimist might see difficulty in every opportunity, but an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty".
Even before the acquisition of Addison Russell, the Cubs had arguably the strongest minor league system in baseball. The had Anthony Rizzo locked in at 1B, and Kris Bryant at 3B (arguably one of the best hitters in the minors, and close to mlb-ready). Javier Baez is a top-10 prospect whose has played primarily at SS, but who many feel would be a better fit at 2B (which works out well, as Starlin Castro has a contract that runs through 2019 and is playing all-star calibre ball for the mlb team). And if Baez wouldn’t or couldn’t play at 2B, they had Arismendy Alcantara, a toolsy 2B prospect who is currently slugging .540 for AAA Iowa and who was recently named to the Pacific Coast League All-Star roster.
Enter Russell and the SS / 2B planning becomes even more cloudy. It is all but impossible that all of these prospects can make it to the majors … at least, not all in a Cubs uniform.
What the Cubs need
As strong as the Cubs’ minor league system is, it still has some holes. The first area is at catcher. Kyle Schwarber was drafted as a catcher, but most experts expect him to end up in the outfield. If that happens, the Cubbies have no one in the system who is close to major league action. Nobody like, for example, an A. J. Jimenez or Derrick Chung.
The other area in which the Cubs are lacking is a potential future ace. Their two top pitching prospects, C. J. Edwards and Pierce Johnson, both project as middle-rotation starters. Not like, say, an Aaron Sanchez or Daniel Norris..
What the Jays need
The Jays could really use a close-to-mlb-ready 2B with high upside. Ideally one with both a strong bat and at least league-average defence.
Does the potential exist for a trade, built around some combination of Jimenez/Chung + Sanchez/Norris/Osuna for Alcantara + … or perhaps even Baez?
And if the Cubs were willing, should the Jays be?