I suspect that most of the scouting the Chicago Cubs are doing these days are on the minor league level. After all, the Cubs are expected to be sellers at the trade deadline, so, in theory, the majority of what they’ll be looking to acquire will consist of minor league prospects.
But, that doesn’t mean the Cubs might not also be looking to pick up some big league pieces – either in a bad contract swap, or in the form of a younger player whom they can add into the fold for the next few years.
To that end, it looks like the Cubs have been scouting the San Francisco Giants – and not just the kind of advance scouting you do before playing a team (indeed, the Cubs don’t play the Giants again until the last series in August). According to the Giants’ beat writer for the San Francisco Chronicle, Hank Schulman, the Cubs had a “top evaluator” in town to watch the team on Tuesday night.
Schulman is quick to caution that he’s not heard anything about discussions with the Cubs, but points out that the Giants might have interest in one of the Cubs’ big league catchers – Geovany Soto or Koyie Hill.
Obviously the Giants have had a void at catcher since Buster Posey was blown up at the plate earlier this year, but Soto and Hill seem like odd choices for the Giants. With respect to Soto, as a guy under control for a couple more years after this one, and one who is roundly considered one of the top catchers in the NL, he doesn’t make for much of a half-season fill-in. Sure, he’d be as good as they could get, but they’d have to pay through the nose to get him. Unless the Giants plan to turn around and trade Soto after the season or to move one of Soto or Posey from behind the plate next year, Soto seems like a really expensive piece to acquire. As for Hill, is he (.640 OPS) really that much of an upgrade over Eli Whiteside (.654 OPS)?
If catchers aren’t to be the subject of discussion between the Giants and Cubs, could the teams be working on something more exotic? Perhaps an over-the-top contract swap involving guys like Alfonso Soriano, Barry Zito and Aaron Rowand? Not likely says a ML source (though Rowand was in the starting lineup on Tuesday).
The Cubs are almost certainly sending “top evaluators” all across baseball these days, so it’s probably not wise to read too much into one game. Still, it’s interesting to hear that the Cubs are devoting some of that time to scouting ML teams, rather than just prospects.
To get the rundown on all of the pieces the Cubs might trade, including Soto and Hill, check out the cheat sheet on rumors and tradability I put together earlier this week.