Blockbuster Trade Proposal Brings MLB Saves Leader to Cubs

Jed Hoyer

Getty Jed Hoyer, president of baseball operations for the Chicago Cubs, has been yet to make a blockbuster addition before the 2024 season.

The Chicago Cubs have been connected to several premier free agents this offseason but have yet to pull the trigger on a blockbuster deal.

But a game-changing trade proposal from Zachary Rotman of FanSided would change that, sending young slugger Christopher Morel and pitching prospect Ben Brown from the Cubs to the Celeveland Guardians in exchange for 2023 and 2022 saves leader Emmanuel Clase.

“The Cubs could center this deal around Christopher Morel, a player Cleveland could use more than Chicago,” Rotman noted. “The Cubs would get their closer for the next five years at a very cheap cost, while the Guardians add a contributor for the middle of their lineup and their rotation for now, and the future.”

Though the Cubs did reach a one-year deal with reliever Héctor Neris and a four-year one with starter Shota Imanaga this offseason, Rotman added that this hypothetical trade would go a long way in contending with the top teams in the National League.

“The Chicago Cubs entered this offseason with high expectations, especially after landing (new manager) Craig Counsell, but have done largely nothing,” he wrote. “The signings of Héctor Neris and Shota Imanaga were solid, but they’re not what’ll get Chicago close to teams like the Braves and Dodgers in the National League.”

The Chicago Cubs Part With Promising Young Slugger in Trade Pitch to Add Emmanuel Clase

With a career 2.00 ERA, 111 saves and 236 strikeouts in just four big-league seasons, Clase has emerged as a top trade target for many teams. Perhaps most appealing is the fact that the 25-year-old is on a relatively team-friendly contract after signing for five years at $20 million in 2022.

It will take a significant package to wrestle him from the Guardians. But in Morel, the Cubs might have the right trade chip to do it, and Rotman suggested it’s one they could be willing to part with.

“The Guardians lack power, and Morel has tons of it,” he pointed out. “The Cubs can then go out and replace Morel by signing a big bat like J.D. Martinez or Cody Bellinger to offset the loss.”

Meanwhile, Brown is a more of a high-risk, high-reward type of sweetener in this prospective deal. Reaching Triple-A for 15 starts last season, the righty was banged up for a 5.33 ERA. But his four Double-A starts before that were more promising, with a stellar 0.45 ERA and 30 strikeouts in just 20 innings.

“His stock dipped a bit following a down year in 2023, but he’s close to MLB-ready and can be a guy the Guardians lean on for the next half-decade or longer,” Rotman added of Brown. “This would be the Guardians betting on themselves and their ability to develop pitching from within.”

Trading for Emmanuel Clase, the Chicago Cubs Would Get a Shutdown Closer

If the Cubs are interested in winning the NL Central and making a deep run into the playoffs, it seems like they could stand to make another big move this offseason to get them there. Though many teams balk at the asking prices for elite closers like Clase, such a game-changing addition might be difficult for a Cubs team with true contention aspirations to resist.

“While the Cubs are reluctant to dole out big money to relievers, it doesn’t mean they aren’t interested in acquiring a star in the role,” according to Bruce Levin of Chicago’s 670 The Score. “The Cubs have interest in 25-year-old Guardians Closer Emmanuel Clase on the trade market… He’s been one of the elite bullpen arms for years.”

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