The Cubs continue to hunt down quality outfield options this offseason, and have now check in with the Braves on talented center fielder Ender Inciarte. According to a source close to Sports Mockery, he reportedly “Wouldn’t be surprised” if the Cubs try and make a deal with Atlanta and their new GM, Alex Anthopoulos.
Was just told to not be surprised if the #Cubs attempt to swing a trade with the #Braves this offseason. Have liked CF Ender Inciarte for sometime now, would also be looking to include one of their young MiLB arms in any deal as well
— Sean Sears (@sean_sears6) November 14, 2017
The Cubs have admired Inciarte from a far for some time now, and had checked on his availability a few times while John Coppolella was at the helm. However, the Cubs were unable to make a deal happen in those moments – likely due to the stacked farm system the Braves boast.
But with Anthopoulos taking over, the former GM of the Toronto Blue Jays, Inciarte may not be as valued by him as he was by previous management. There hasn’t been any real talks quite yet, mainly because Anthopoulos has only been in the office for a few days now. However, expect the Cubs to be aggressive with their offer, potentially Ian Happ or if they need to Kyle Schwarber, Albert Almora, or Javier Baez all could be involved.
Why you should love Inciarte
To the casual fan, the 27-year-old center fielder may not be a household name, but Inciarte profiles as exactly what the Cubs are lacking in their outfield. The two-time gold glove winner has had two wonderful seasons with Braves, coming off his best this past season.
Inciarte slashed .304/.350/.409 with 11 home runs, 22 stolen bases, and 93 runs scored – all career bests. The veteran center fielder would be an excellent addition to the top of the Cubs lineup. He also just signed a five-year deal for $30.5 mil last season that has five more years of control including a club option for $9 mil in 2022.
The asking price, while tough to determine with a new GM in Atlanta, is likely going to require MLB talent. The Cubs farm system isn’t quite what it used to be, and while there are some intriguing options, they alone are not enough to pry Inciarte away from the Braves.
Who would the Braves want?
If I had to guess, the Cubs will likely have to part with player like Ian Happ to start the conversation. But if they want to try and acquire one of their minor league arms, it could bump the asking price to Kyle Schwarber or Javier Baez.
Likely, that won’t happen unless the Braves decide to include former ace Julio Teheran, who looks to rebound after another disappointing season in 2017. However, Teheran still holding value to the Braves, is unlikely to be included in any deal at this time.
So the Cubs may have to part with more than just Ian Happ if they are serious about acquiring a lead-off center fielder. But if they are, the Cubs would be hard-pressed to find another option as perfect as Ender Inciarte.