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The “KB” shorthand for Eloy Jimenez is a reminder of what the Cubs would have to give up as a starting point in almost any negotiation for a frontline pitcher.

After the Cubs made the blockbuster deal for Aroldis Chapman last summer, Jason McLeod dropped a Kris Bryant reference point on Jimenez, the other international prospect the New York Yankees scouted heavily before zeroing in on Gleyber Torres.

The Yankees envisioned a higher floor and a more polished player in pinstripes, someone who could excel in the middle infield, get to The Show faster and potentially handle The Bronx by the age of 20. Until Monday’s announcement that he would need Tommy John surgery on his left elbow, the New York media pushed Torres as a pennant-race replacement for struggling third baseman Chase Headley.

Jimenez went viral that night with a clip that looked like something out of “The Natural,” crushing a ball toward the light tower beyond the left-field wall during the Carolina League Home Run Derby.

“In this business, we’re always comparing guys that reminded you of someone,” said McLeod — the senior vice president who oversees scouting and player development — on a Cubs Talk podcast while thinking back to Bryant’s freshman year at the University of San Diego and how a future National League MVP struggled that summer in the Cape Cod League. “I was just trying to look at who Kris became (after being) a kid we did scout in high school. He was on the radar and he was seen plenty.


“I was just looking at: ‘OK, tall, big-framed, right-handed hitting 19-year-old,’ which is what Eloy was last year when he went out and had a really good year in (Class-A) South Bend. I was thinking about what I remembered from Kris when I saw him his freshman year in college and just making the comparisons.

“They’re different types of swings. I know they’re different body types — understanding Kris was playing third and Eloy’s out in the outfield. But I was making the comparison of two power-hitting right-handed 19-year-olds.

“Kris is one who’s a very intelligent hitter in the way he thinks about what he wants to do. He really doesn’t seem to let much bother him. Eloy is similar in the way that he really understands his swing and what he’s wanting to do. Now the execution isn’t always there yet. But he’s a very talented (player who) has tremendous upside. And I think a lot of it has to do with the way he thinks when he goes to the plate.”

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With the draft ending last week, Theo Epstein’s front office will shift focus toward the July 31 deadline and Jimenez will start popping up in more and more trade rumors.

After giving up a possible franchise shortstop for a mercenary closer — and a legitimate chance to end the 108-year drought — it’s hard to see the Cubs sacrificing Jimenez for a rental pitcher who might make 12 starts for a team that’s still hovering around .500 in late June.

It’s even more complicated if the Cubs don’t want to trade off their major-league roster and can’t convince a rebuilding team that they have the pitching prospect to backfill a rotation spot.

Jimenez made a great impression on Joe Maddon in spring training — the Cubs manager compared him to a young Edgar Martinez or Miguel Cabrera — before getting shut down with a sore right shoulder. So far, Jimenez has performed at advanced Class-A Myrtle Beach, putting up seven homers and a .927 OPS in 28 games and living up to the Baseball America preseason hype (No. 14 overall prospect).

“He’s a kid that has the talent to be a legit, middle-of-the-order bat in the major leagues for a long time,” McLeod.

Leading up to a trade deadline that will be all about the pitching, the question for the Cubs becomes: Where?