With just weeks remaining until the July 31 non-waver trading deadline, trade speculation is continuing to pick up. The Cubs, who have been sellers for the past few seasons, find themselves solidly in the second National League Wild Card spot and looking to hang on through the second half. Prevailing notions seem to indicate that the Cubs would like to add a starting pitcher, a bullpen piece and a bench bat.

But, the trick will be how the Cubs can manage to acquire some of these pieces without dealing away prized young players like Javier Baez or Kyle Schwarber. That makes the presence of a big bat for the Tennessee Smokies more significant than ever. That would be Dan Vogelbach.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with Vogelbach, here’s a little background. He was the Cubs’ 2nd round pick in the 2011 Draft. He’s a 6-foot, 250 pound First Baseman with a lot of power. ranked Vogelbach as the Cubs’ 12th best prospect at the start of the season. And he proceeded to get off to a hot start in 2015 for the AA Smokies and was named the Cubs’ Player of the Month for April. He has cooled off a little since and has dealt with a hamstring injury but still holds a line of .284/.410/.431.

But nonetheless, questions remain about Vogelbach and his long-term future. Vogelbach is one big dude. For that reason, his athleticism often comes into question and begs the discussion of whether he is better suited as a DH in the end. Plus, Anthony Rizzo is clearly not vacating First for the big club any time soon.

To top all of this off, Vogelbach is eligible for the Rule 5 Draft once the 2015 season ends. That means the Cubs will need to either add him to the 40-man roster or risk losing him to another team. Now it’s not a given that Vogelbach would be claimed, but that possibility would certainly be on the Cubs’ minds.

So if you’re an American League team that may be interested in selling off some pieces, Vogelbach would be a great player to target as a future potential bopping DH. One problem for the Cubs, though, is that the American League is still so tight that teams like the White Sox or the A’s, that may have looked to be sellers earlier, may be reconsidering.

The sentiment seems to be that since the team was expected to be ready by 2016, 2015 is a “bonus” year of contention. For that reason, a big name prospect won’t be on the move. That’s what makes Vogelbach so critical to this year’s trading deadline. For this reason, I’m at a point where if Dan Vogelbach is still in the Cubs’ system come 4pm on July 31, I will be surprised.

featured photo by Aldrin Capulong/Daytona Cubs.

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