The Chicago Cubs are officially open for business.
The team began its widely expected fire sale Thursday by dealing outfielder Joc Pederson to the Atlanta Braves in exchange for first base prospect Bryce Ball, the team announced.
The move ends Pederson's Cubs tenure after less than a year with the team. Pederson signed with the Cubs last offseason on a one-year, $7 million deal after spending his entire career with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
In 73 games with the Cubs, Pederson hit .230/.300/.418 with 11 homers and 39 RBIs. He'll now head to a Braves team with a gaping hole in right field after the season-ending ACL tear of star Ronald Acuña Jr.
Pederson is no Acuña, but the Braves will take all the help they can get as they try to remain in playoff contention. The team currently holds a 44-45 record, four games back from the first-place New York Mets in the NL East.
In return for Pederson, the Cubs are receiving Atlanta's No. 12 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline. A 24th round pick in the 2019 MLB draft, Ball has an average bat and above-average power, with questions about his defense and if his power can translate at the higher levels.
Who else will the Cubs trade?
The Cubs are now five years removed from their cathartic 2016 World Series championship, and selling at the trade deadline is inevitable at this point. The team sits eight games out of first place in the NL Central, mainly thanks to an 11-game losing streak shortly before the All-Star break.
As far as possible trade candidates go, Pederson was a given for the Cubs. He was on a one-year deal with no significant history with the club and limitations for his future (the Dodgers used him as a platoon bat against righties; we'll see how the Braves handle him).
Who else could the Cubs ship out? That depends on how attached they are to their World Series-winning core.
A potential Kris Bryant trade has loomed all season, to the point that the former MVP was asked about it live during the All-Star Game. Bryant is a free agent after this season, and his power and defensive flexibility (he has played every outfield position as well as first and third this season) should make him attractive to virtually any contending team.
First baseman Anthony Rizzo and shortstop Javier Baez are also free agents after this season, and could be on the way out if a team meets the Cubs' price. Other significant trade candidates include closer Craig Kimbrel, starting pitcher Zach Davies and set-up man Andrew Chafin.
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