Marcus Stroman is grooming Chicago Cubs wide receiver Willson Contreras, 'the cornerstone of this franchise,' to be traded

SAN FRANCISCO — When Marcus Stroman signed with the Chicago Cubs shortly before the stoppage, he thought it was a sign of the organization’s commitment to winning.

After all, the Cubs gave him the fourth-biggest contract among starting pitchers this offseason. Stroman noted at the time that the Cubs are “definitely not in a complete rebuild, they definitely want to win now” because of his move to sign him.

However, Stroman also stated that “you never know what you’re going to get into in a year.”

For Stroman and the Cubs, this season means another trade deadline sell-off as they enter Saturday with the seventh-worst record in baseball despite being winners in seven of their last eight games following Friday’s 4-game win. 2 against the Giants.

Stroman pitched six shutout innings in the win, continuing a stellar streak. In four starts since coming off the disabled list, Stroman has allowed just two runs in 20⅓ innings for a 0.89 ERA.

Friday also marked the last time before the trade deadline that Stroman partnered with Willson Contreras behind the plate. In five starts together, Stroman has a 3.08 ERA. The veteran right-hander knows what’s in store for Contreras and the Cubs ahead of Tuesday’s 5 pm deadline.

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Stroman called the three-time All-Star “the cornerstone of the franchise” for his contributions to the Cubs’ postseason run.

“Is special. I think we’re all going to miss Willson,” Stroman said. “He’s still on our team, but it’s almost like you know what’s going to happen with the hugs and how it was at Wrigley last stay home. We are super grateful for him.

“It will be great. His career is just beginning. I think he’s going to be a perennial All-Star, but it definitely sucks to lose a guy like Willson, a guy who shows up every day and competes at the absolute maximum. It’s hard to find that.”

This is the awkward limbo Cubs players and staff find themselves in: expecting something to happen every day while trying to win.

“Both days at Wrigley were emotional because you knew you weren’t coming back,” outfielder Ian Happ said Friday. “And now you’re just playing baseball and trying to help the team win. Getting back into the groove of that and really trying to enjoy every second of it in the clubhouse.”

Happ has received no communication from president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer or anyone in the front office about whether he will be traded before the deadline. But clearly Happ is preparing as if that is the outcome.

“The players are always the last to know with everything,” Happ said. “Who knows what will happen, if something happens. … You’re obviously in tune with what’s going on, like the rumors (of the MLB trade). Personal (business) rumors, not so much, but generally what happens as it happens.”

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