2 post-MLB trade deadline moves the Cubs must make

The Chicago Cubs are fully rebuild. Long gone are the days where the Cubs were a perennial World Series contender in the National League. Chicago is tearing the walls down and starting from scratch.

For that reason, their trade deadline strategy this year was a bit odd. They were reportedly open to selling pretty much anyone, but ended up only dealing from their bullpen, with their biggest trade involving David Robertson going to the Philadelphia Phillies. Top players like Willson Contreras and Ian Happ who could have netted some pretty solid returns ended up staying put, however.

The Cubs farm system has gotten deeper, but you can never have too many prospects developing in the minors when you are working through a rebuild, which is why it was a curious decision to hold onto Contreras and Happ. But what’s done is done; the Cubs need to spend the rest of the 2022 season focusing on developing their young players. For that reason, the two post-deadline moves the Cubs must make involve giving two young players more playing time throughout the remainder of the 2022 season.

2 moves the Chicago Cubs need to make

2. Promote Caleb Kilian

Caleb Kilian is the Cubs top pitching prospect, and it’s time for him to finally carve out a consistent role in the majors. Kilian is 25 years old, and has struggled pretty mightily in his first exposure to the majors this season, posting a 10.32 ERA over three starts. But with nothing left to play for this season, the Cubs would be wise to bring Kilian back to the majors and give him a shot to find his footing him over the final stretch of the season.

Kilian has spent most of the 2022 season in Triple-A with the Iowa Cubs, and has looked capable of becoming a middle of the rotation stater. He has a 4-1 record with a 3.49 ERA and 95 strikeouts over 18 starts. Translating that success to the majors has been a struggle so far for Kilian, though.

At this point, the Cubs pitching staff is a mess. They have two guys in Keegan Thompson and Adrian Sampson who are both relievers by trade making starts at this point, and even behind them in the bullpen, things don’t look good. There is going to be room for a talented arm like Kilian, either in a starting capacity or coming out of the bullpen.

But Kilian is going to have to prove he has what it takes to stick the next time he gets called up to the majors. He needs to make the transition from minor league prospect to major league starter, and considering how he’s already 25, he’s running out of time to prove he belongs. Chicago would be wise to give Kilian a bit of a run with the major league squad as the 2022 season wraps up considering they have nothing left to play for, and hopefully he can stick with the team in 2023 and future seasons.

1. Give Nelson Velazquez a starting role

The Cubs focus for the rest of the 2022 season should be geared towards giving their young players a chance to prove themselves. With that in mind, it’s confusing as to why Nelson Velazquez is not getting his name penciled into the lineup card on an everyday basis right now.

Velazquez started the season as the Cubs 15th best prospect, and was promoted after hitting 15 home runs in 56 minor league games earlier this season. Yet Velazquez has primarily been Chicago’s fourth outfielder for most of his time in the majors. What do they gain from not getting this guy into the lineup every game at this point?

The Cubs have been running an outfield of Happ, Seiya Suzuki, and Christopher Morel for most of the season, which has limited Velazquez’s at-bats. But Happ can easily shift over to first base, especially considering both Frank Schwindel and Alfonso Rivas have been so bad, their both aren’t even in the majors right now, and open up an outfield spot for Velazquez.

Velazquez is admittedly not tearing it up off the bench, as he’s hitting .240 with six home runs and 17 RBIs in 110 at-bats. But the Cubs may as well give him some playing time if he’s going to be with the major league squad. Otherwise, it would benefit them more to send him back to Triple-A so he can continue to develop.

Chicago’s reluctance to fully embrace rebuild has hurt them so far, especially when it comes to not trading Contreras and Happ at the deadline. But that shouldn’t prevent them from seeing what some of their prospects have to offer, especially considering they are playing for nothing at this point. Giving guys like Velazquez and Kilian will allow Chicago to better prepare for the future, which should be their prime concern right now.

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