Somehow, some way, Major League Baseball's 2021 trade deadline is just a week away. And with plenty of stars still on the market, it could be a wild week.
The emphasis is on "could," however, because it's not a given that every one of those stars will be moved before 4 p.m. ET on July 30.
We've taken a whack at predicting what will happen via a game of Deal or No Deal. This involved examining which rumors are out there and analyzing the lay of the land, all for the purpose of assessing the likelihood of certain stars moving and others staying put.
Starting on the North Side of Chicago, we'll touch on five key teams and a dozen key players.
Deal: Cubs Say Goodbye to Kris Bryant and Craig Kimbrel
With slugging outfielder Joc Pederson now in Atlanta, the Chicago Cubs have already made one notable trade. And according to FanSided's Robert Murray, they're still willing to listen to offers for everyone they have.
That includes third baseman/outfielder Kris Bryant and closer Craig Kimbrel, both of whom are as good as gone.
Those are indeed the exact words that ESPN's Jeff Passan used to describe Bryant's situation. Following his difficult 2020 season, the Cubs have a chance to sell high on the four-time All-Star before free agency calls his number this winter. And between his power and defensive versatility, he has things contenders want.
As for Kimbrel, the eight-time All-Star closer is the best reliever on the market amid a season marked by a microscopic 0.51 ERA. Some teams might be scared off by his $16 million salary, but others might be fine with both that and the $16 million vesting/club option for 2022.
As the Cubs have gone just 9-22 since June 14, the reality of a looming rebuild has become that much clearer. To this end, dealing Bryant and Kimbrel for prospects is perhaps the best step forward they can take.
No Deal: Anthony Rizzo and Javier Baez Stay on the North Side
In addition to Bryant, the other big-ticket rentals in Chicago's everyday lineup are two infielders with five All-Star selections between them: first baseman Anthony Rizzo and shortstop Javier Baez.
However, it's no big surprise that their corners of the market have been less noisy throughout the summer.
Whereas Bryant has hit like a star by way of a 127 OPS+, Rizzo (107 OPS+) and Baez (108 OPS+) have put forth restrained offensive performances in 2021.
It's been a couple of years since Rizzo, who turns 32 on August 8, has had firm footing as one of baseball's top first basemen. And while there are still instances when Baez looks like a human highlight reel, it's hard to excuse that he's struck out 180 more times than he's walked since the start of last season.
In the context of all this, Passan's report that Rizzo and Baez are "far less likely" than Bryant to be moved makes sense. But this is not to say the Cubs will come away empty-handed, as Chicago could recoup two compensatory draft picks if it extends qualifying offers to both players this winter and they leave via free agency.