If Chicago Cubs are to compete in 2016 they should sell off pitching

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The Cubs are bad and have been bad for years, we know that much.

They made the playoffs and were swept in 2007 and 2008, but they really haven't been World Series contenders since the Bartman game and subsequent collapse in 2003.

That means, come late July and August, they are looking to sell assets.

It's a catch-22 in that they can't compete without good pitching and they aren't good enough to keep that good pitching around.

They have a load of young talented hitters in the minor leagues. Guys like Kris Bryant, Javier Baez, Jorge Soler, Albert Almora and recent first-round pick Kyle Schwarber, a power-hitting catcher from Indiana.

What they don't have hanging around is a lot of top-tier pitching. The pitching they do have comes in the form of major leaguers Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel. A month from now, both might be gone.

Hammel is having a career year despite his 6-4 record, holding a 2.81 ERA and an even more impressive 0.98 WHIP. Samardzija's record is downright hilarious at 2-6 to go with his 2.77 ERA and 1.18 WHIP.

According to the Chicago Sun-Times, both of those pitchers are already for sale. And Hammel, who likely will cost much less, is the most desirable of the two because of his price tag.

A source in that Sun-Times story named the Mariners as a likely landing spot with Jake Arrieta being the most talented remaining starter. The Cubs will likely be looking to get a prospect pitcher in return for either, one they could pair with the talented hitting they already have.

That's what they did last season, gaining Arrieta in a deadline trade for Scott Feldman and then getting their top prospect pitcher, C.J. Edwards, along with hitter Mike Olt in a deal for Matt Garza.

Edwards, however, has dealt with injury issues and is currently sitting on the disabled list while the 6-foot-2, 155-pound right-hander holds a 1-0 record with a 2.61 ERA in four starts for Double-A Tennessee, where he plays with Bryant.

Samardzija might be a guy who gains the Cubs a lot more in return. The Cubs have been shutout in five of his starts this year, however:

“Starting pitching’s hard to come by,” Phillies manager and former Cubs Triple-A manager Ryne Sandberg told the Sun-Times.

“There’ll be a lot of teams that would want him.”

The question is if any of those teams are willing to pay what the Cubs want in return for Samardzija. The right-hander is set to be a free agent after the 2015 season and the Cubs aren't going to want to let him walk for nothing or be in a situation where they are trying to trade him late in his contract year, something that will severely cut into his value.

So, it makes a ton of sense to trade the 29-year-old now, getting the best value they can for him while looking for starting pitching that can help them starting two or three years down the road.

For now, they are 27-39 and don't look like they will be ready to compete next year either. But 2016 seems like a season when they'll be able to. They'll have a tough time fielding a top-notch pitching staff if Samardzija had just walked, so they need guys who will be ready that season. Guys will help them compete. Guys who, 13 years after the Bartman game, might help the team forget about their terrible past and finally take home a title.

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Chicago Cubs
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