We’re just a week away from the non-waive trade deadline, and the Chicago Cubs have yet to make a move. But having just lost two of three to the woeful Astros, the Cubs have no doubt cemented their status as sellers – and the first piece to go will probably be pitcher Ted Lilly.
Unlike the two guys above him on this list, there’s one thing we can say for sure about Lilly: He will get traded, probably any day now.
At least a half-dozen teams are still in on him — a group headed by the Tigers, Mets and Dodgers. And the Cubs are officially in nearly-everything-must-go mode. So not only are they confident they can trade this guy, but they Cubs are also telling teams they don’t have to pay any of the approximately $5.5 million he has left on his deal this year.
“They said they’re going to move him,” said an official of one club. “And they’ve got enough action where they won’t have to pay any of the money.”
But Lilly — who also has a limited no-trade clause — isn’t a fit for everybody. One scout said of him: “His velocity is down and he has to go to a club with a big park, a fly-ball park. He can’t pitch in a small park anymore.” But an executive of one team who loves him said: “He’s never been a velocity guy. He’s a pitcher. And he likes the action. He likes facing tough lineups. He likes facing those tough right-handed hitters. I really don’t see that decrease in velocity as an issue.”
It takes only one team that agrees with that assessment. And the Cubs, in this case, have a lot more than one to choose from. Jayson Stark.
That the Cubs are intent on not picking up any of Lilly’s remaining salary indicates that they are looking mostly to save money, and not to pick up the optimal return in prospects. Sure, if the market for Lilly is broad enough, the Cubs shouldn’t have to eat any of Lilly’s deal. But by refusing to do so, the Cubs limit that market – at least incrementally.
Still, it’s reassuring to hear that there are a number of teams interested in Lilly, who has greatly rehabilitated his value in his last two starts. They may have been his last as a Cub.