Reds vs. Cubs: Pitching preview, prediction, and more

CINCINNATI, OHIO - JULY 04: Jonathan India #6 of the Cincinnati Reds reacts during a game. (Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OHIO - JULY 04: Jonathan India #6 of the Cincinnati Reds reacts during a game. (Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images) /
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CINCINNATI, OH – JULY 3: Kris Bryant #17 of the Chicago Cubs celebrates after scoring a run against the Cincinnati Reds. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OH – JULY 3: Kris Bryant #17 of the Chicago Cubs celebrates after scoring a run against the Cincinnati Reds. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images) /

The 2021 edition of the Cubs could look very different by the week’s end.

It has to be a bitter pill for the Cubs’ faithful to swallow, but with the club in fourth place, the front office is clearly in seller-mode as the Friday trade deadline approaches. As a result, it’s anyone’s guess about who will be wearing a Cubs uniform when their weekend series versus the Washington Nationals opens in DC.

Chicago kicked off their dismantling project earlier this month, dealing outfielder Joc Pederson to the Atlanta Braves. He may be the first Cubbie to leave, but he certainly won’t be the last as  President of Baseball Operations Jed Hoyer faces some difficult decisions this week.

Obviously, all eyes will be on Kris Bryant this week. However, it’s hard to imagine Bryant still in a Cubs uniform by the end of the week. Considering the tumultuous relationship between Bryant and Cubs front office and his impending free agency following the season, it seems next to impossible to believe the Cubs will let the former MVP leave the Windy City with only a draft pick as compensation.

While not an impossibility, it seems less likely that shortstop Javier Baez and Anthony Rizzo will be traded, but it’s not a scenario that can be dismissed entirely. While Baez continues to produce impressive power numbers, as evidenced by his 22 homers and 64 RBIs, his overall offensive game leaves much to be desired.

Compiling a slash line of .245/.291/.488, the Cubbies shortstop is the very definition of a feast or famine hitter. Baez leads the NL with 128 strikeouts and has finished in the top five in punch outs two of the last three seasons. Needless to say, the free agent to be is not the same player who finished the 2018 season second in the MVP voting.

Even though 31-year-old first baseman Anthony Rizzo has failed to display the power he has in the past, he’s still reaching base at an impressive .341 clip. The three-time All-Star and four-time Gold Glove winner will also be hitting the open market following the season.

Other Chicago names to keep an eye on this week include starter Kyle Hendricks and relievers Andrew Chafin and Craig Kimbrel. By the end of this week, many of the heroes from the club’s 2016 World Series title team could find themselves in different uniforms.