Lukewarm Stove: Best Pitchers on the Market, Jackson, Olt, Cuban Defectors, More

stoveClosing down the first business week of July, and it was all business for the Cubs. They traded Scott Feldman and Steve Clevenger. They traded Roni Torreyes. They traded Carlos Marmol. They DFA’d Shawn Camp. They went all SIGN ALL THE IFAs. There was a two-day stretch that rivaled anything I’ve seen at the Trade Deadline before. If it’s like that at this year’s deadline, at which I’m promising to blog for 24 to 36 hours straight – depending on how much we can fundraise for Make-A-Wish’s efforts to provide Chicago Cubs wishes to young fans – I don’t know if I’ll make it. Or I’ll be riding such a surge of adrenaline that I’ll end up going 48 hours straight just because.

On with the latest …

  • Normally I’d save this for an Obsessive Matt Garza Trade Watch update, but we’re in between those, so I’ll give it here: Buster Olney says Garza is now “far and away the best starter available.” That’s nice. Assuming Cliff Lee does not come onto the market – or any other surprise entrant – I’d have to agree with Buster, and I don’t think I’m just being a homer.
  • Somewhat relatedly, the Diamondbacks are talking about Brewers starter Yovani Gallardo, according to Jon Heyman. Top pitching prospect Tyler Skaggs’ name has popped up, but apparently there’s not yet any “traction” there. The Diamondbacks appear to prefer to have a guy who is under contract for 2014 like Gallardo, rather than a rental like Garza. That’s fine, though I’d point out that the Diamondbacks probably also want a pitcher who’s doing better than a 4.78 ERA, a 1.456 WHIP, and a career-worst 2.16 K/BB. (Garza in those numbers this year: 3.45, 1.116, and 2.89.) Skaggs, who turns 22 in a week, is a top 20 prospect in the game, and is already big-league ready. If he’s available, and there’s a teeny, tiny chance the Cubs could get him in a Garza deal, you’d be getting pretty excited.
  • Jim Bowden recently did a video on the obvious sellers, for which he focused on the Cubs, the White Sox, and the Brewers. It’s mostly standard fare, but I thought one bit was interesting. In discussing the Cubs’ tradable pieces, he mentioned, with some discussion, Edwin Jackson as a possibility. While the Cubs are willing to deal just about anything, and they certainly would be willing – from a team-construction standpoint – to deal Jackson. But we’re talking about a guy who’s got an ERA near six right now (even if the peripherals are solid), and is just one half season into a four year deal. Not only do I not think the Cubs could get a whole lot of value for Jackson at this time, I also do not think the Cubs really want to deal a guy they just signed to a long-term deal. It sends a bad message to future free agents, especially this upcoming offseason. Yes, you always want to remain flexible, and it’s not wise to guarantee that you’ll never trade a player. But upper end free agents have lots of options, and when the money’s close, things like “this team trades guys at the drop of a hat even after committing four years to them” will stick out in their memory. Don’t believe me? Just wait to see how long it takes the Marlins to sign a big-time free agent without massively overpaying.
  • Ken Rosenthal goes through the best available bullpen pieces this trading season, and Kevin Gregg obviously features prominently (it doesn’t appear to be a strict ranking, but it’s fair to say he slots in behind Jonathan Papelbon at this point, but there are fundamental contractual differences between the two that probably put them in entirely different markets).
  • In the latest MLBTR chat, however, Steve Adams did not list Gregg as one of the top relievers on the market (he did mention James Russell, though Russell’s been struggling a little bit lately). Steve also notes how down Mike Olt’s stock is at this point (not even enough to net Alex Rios from the White Sox). The Cubs have obviously liked the Rangers’ third base prospect for a long time now, and, if they get the opportunity to buy low – in whatever form the deal might take – I wonder if they’ll jump at it. (Steve notes that Olt, alone, would probably not be enough to get Matt Garza, and I agree.) Steve is also suspicious of the Padres’ reported interest in Matt Garza, given their long-term, development-oriented approach (to which I’d respond that teams like the Padres develop a broad-based system so that they can stock their team with homegrown talent *AND* acquire players using those prospects when necessary).
  • Bruce Levine also chatted, and … (1) the Cubs can do better than draft pick compensation in a Matt Garza trade (and, thus, he’ll be traded); (2) Bruce also mentions Mike Olt as a possible piece in a deal with the Rangers; and (3) Bruce doesn’t see the Cubs going after any notable free agents after this season.
  • Apropos of nothing, Jesse Sanchez reminded folks on Twitter that, in addition to all of the IFA spending the Cubs are doing this week on guys subject to the bonus pool restrictions, they sent a cadre of folks to watch Cuban free agent Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez in Mexico. We already knew this, but I find it very interesting that Sanchez felt it worth reminding folks at this time. Sanchez knows his stuff, so if that’s a nudge, I’m listening. Gonzalez, a 26-year-old righty who is not subject to spending restrictions, is still awaiting his unblocking license so that he can sign. It could come at any point now, and the Dodgers remain the favorite here.
  • Speaking of Sanchez and Gonzalez, Sanchez reports that a fellow Cuban defector – 26-year-old righty Odrisamer Despaigne – will work out for teams in Spain on Tuesday, and could be a free agent in three to six weeks. I’ll confess ignorance on Despaigne’s relative value, but Jeff Passan says it’s not quite up there with Gonzalez.

Brett Taylor is the editor and lead writer at Bleacher Nation, and can also be found as Bleacher Nation on Twitter and on Facebook.

82 responses to “Lukewarm Stove: Best Pitchers on the Market, Jackson, Olt, Cuban Defectors, More”

  1. Crockett

    Still just cannot imagine the Cubs letting Garza make another start. Also can’t believe a team like the Rangers or Nationals or Indians aren’t just saying “screw it” and making a good enough offer.

    1. nkniacc13

      They may think their offer is good enough Cubs don’t. I know Garza has had health issues but since his next start is against an AL team next I believe I wouldn’t rush to trade him yet especially if I set a price and it isn’t met yet. Gregg on the other hand I could see them moving him sooner than later

      1. Crockett

        My point is if Garza has a 4.2 IP 6ER 2K/3BB start, you give those offering teams some ammo to hold their ground.

        My other point is that the INDIANS and the NATIONALS need pitching help right now and have the prospects to make a deal. And dealing for him now versus the 31st gets them 4-5 more starts.

        1. Crockett

          I have no idea why those team names got capitalized.

          1. On The Farm

            I figured it was because you were yelling at them to make a deal. If you would have just said Indians and the Nationals they might not have heard you.

            1. Crockett

              Excellent points. I will adjust my internet strategy accordingly.

  2. Kenster

    Rizzo in the 7 spot today! Wow!

  3. Believe in 2015

    I got a feeling Epstein and Hoyer are holding out for that “blow me away” offer. As they should be

    1. nkniacc13

      At this point they should be holding out for that.

    2. North Side Irish

      Buster Olney and Jayson Stark talked about Garza on Olney’s podcast today. Stark said he had talked to multiple FO people who said the asking price for Garza was the highest they expected to hear this deadline and that they expect the Cubs to stick to it. Which could make for some nervous starts the rest of this month.

    3. Kyle

      They’ve been burned before on that tack.

      1. mudge

        That happens to gamblers. & sometimes they win.

  4. Cubbiesfan123

    Is Gonzalez big league ready?

    1. nkniacc13

      some think he could be other think hes a ways away

    2. King Jeff

      Possibly, maybe even probably, but no way to know for certain until he gets here and pitches.

  5. Steve123

    I would rather get Bradley from the Dbacks than Skaggs I think. It that more conceivable than Skaggs? I am unaware if who really has more value

    1. Crockett

      Bradley is (and should be) completely untouchable.

      Skaggs should be right behind him.

      1. nkniacc13

        Isnt Skaggs scheduled to start for AZ this weekend?

        1. Crockett

          I think today, actually.

      2. Steve123

        Ok, most of the rankings I see have Skaggs ranked ahead of Bradley, which in my mind would make Skaggs more untouchable, but I assume the same reason we want Bradley is why he is untouchable

    2. Mike S

      from the dbacks its gotta be Bradley and Stryker Trahan or u let them trade for gallardo and screw themselves, There are other teams that will pay that equivalent. Not sure I would wait for a team to make an offer that blows them away. Why dont we ask for what blows us away instead and see who says yes first.

  6. cubchymyst

    With Despaigne that makes 3 Cuban pitchers out there right now who can be signed with out restrictions. Wonder if the Cubs get any of them.

  7. Deacon

    Agree with you, Steve. I also think Theo’s strategy of waiting for a “blow me away” offer is how we ended up with a half hour left last year before the trade deadline desperately trying to trade Dempster.

    Other than the Angels trade last year with the Brewers for Greinke I can’t think of a great bounty for a rental player these days. Teams are very stingy with their prospects.

    1. SenorGato

      Zach Wheeler for Carlos Beltran

    2. andoalex

      Dempster also blocked a trade to Atlanta. I’d say that led to the last minute scrambling much more than Theo’s strategy did.

      1. On The Farm

        Yeah Demp made a list and put Atlanta #2 on it, but secretly he meant to make a list with only LA on it. Had Theo known he would have only accepted a deal to LA he probably would have figured out something there.

        Then Dempster ended up in Texas because that was the only spot left for him. He was the hammer baby!

        1. Crockett

          I’m still pretty raw over that. I was at O’Hare waiting for a flight to Dublin, so I couldn’t get consistent updates. Wasn’t able to find Wifi in Dublin until like 15 hours later.

          Then when I got back from Europe…my girlfriend of 7 years ended it over text message. Not kidding.

          Wasn’t a good month!

          1. mudge

            Sounds like a good person to be rid of.

  8. SenorGato

    Watched Martin Perez last night on MLBNetwork and continue to want the Cubs to be able to land and mold that arm. 92-95 with a lot of 93-94s. The change up continues to look like it will be a swing and miss pitch. He can spin a curve – soft and a little harder – but his command of it is inconsistent.

    Garza + fodder and maybe cash is going to land a top prospect. I am confident in that. Perez and Skaggs are high up on the wish list.

    1. Crockett

      Yep. He’s my #1. If the Cubs could somehow score a second decent arm in the deal from Texas, I’d run around my neighborhood sans reasonable clothing.

      1. SenorGato

        I noticed when he missed with his fastball that he missed down. That’s a good idea. Perez needs to throw more strikes and stay healthy, but I totally get why hes been touted for so long. The stuff and athleticism makes you think of upside comps like Cliff Lee and Johan Santana, though obviously we know the odds of him getting there are shyte by nature.

  9. BluBlud

    Why would Arizona not wanna trade Skaggs or Bradley for Shark, but then be willing to do it for Gallardo. What the hell is wrong with their management. I personally wouldn’t trade Shark for Skaggs or Bradley, though I would for both. Shark is twice the player Gallardo is. This makes no sense if they are willing to do this.

    1. SenorGato

      Probably about time to stop buying everything you read in the papers and on the internet.

      Bradley has enough strike throwing and command issues to maybe wonder whether hes more AJ Burnett than future super awesome #1 ace of the future.

      1. BluBlud

        SenorGata, Yeah, but everything on the internet is true. I mean, I did read that on the internet.

        I hope, for the sake of Diamondback fans, that the rumor is not true. If it is, they should all be fired out there.

        Oh, and by the way, Bonjour. ;)

        1. SenorGato

          That DBacks FO knows their stuff.

    2. Me

      It’s not mentioned in the article but they already said no to trading Skaggs or Bradley in a deal for Gallardo

    3. On The Farm

      The problem was Bradley AND Skaggs for Shark, and Gallardo was just Skaggs. They said no to Shark, and as Brett said no traction with the Brewers getting Skaggs, they are just doing their due dilligence and calling to inquire on the best SP on the market (or not in Shark’s case)

  10. Mason Asher

    Skaggs pitching tonight? Could this be his last start as a DBack? Hopefully the Cubs go and get him. I saw him in the minors and at times he looked like a future Ace.

    1. Crockett

      That’d be awesome. Although unlikely.

      Unless this expands into a bigger deal where Cubs get Skaggs and Trahan or Eaton or someone, etc and the DBacks get Garza plus other pieces (like Gregg).

      1. On The Farm

        You left out Campana, he would have to be included in the deal in order for Theo to consider it.

        1. Crockett

          Could’ve gone my entire life without hearing his name again and I’d be just fine.

      2. Deacon

        Fully agree. If we get a good return back from Garza I think he goes with a player or two that’s a non-rental to also better help the team that trades for him justify what they gave up.

      3. Tim

        If Skaggs is big league ready, and he comes up and dominates tonight, wouldn’t that take the dbacks out of the market for a starting pitcher? If Skaggs is ready to go I just don’t understand why they would trade him for garza, gallardo, or anyone else for that matter

        1. Mark S

          Because their rotation is pretty bad even after if he dominated tonight and proved to be consistent.

        2. On The Farm

          This is most likely why they have waited to trade him for as long as they have. The interest in Gallardo is probably they would be able to trade a young arm for a guy who when he is one is an ace. If they are truly making a playoff push trading a rookie who will at best be your #3-4 behind Kennedy, Corbin, Miley, and Cahill.

          1. Tim

            Skaggs is a top 20 prospect in baseball and he’s nothing more than a 3 or 4 starter? Doesn’t seem right to me

            1. On The Farm

              I was speaking more right now. Skaggs has the potential to be a #1/2, but not very likely to pitch like a #1/2 this year during the playoffs. Depends how much the Dbacks want to win now.

  11. Mason Asher

    That is an interview with Archie I did a couple months back. He didn’t seem like a total team guy from it and refused to answer a couple questions. I am 16 and I really want to work somewhere in baseball! Let me know what you think.

  12. RD

    At this point, I would be really disappointed if the Cubs traded for Olt. After drafting Bryant, I don’t think it makes any sense to add an older, struggling 3rd base prospect when we already have Valbuena, Bryant (hopefully), Lake, Vitters, and Candelario (further down) in the mix. I am getting pretty excited about the idea of Skaggs or Perez though!

    1. Crockett

      I think Olt would be a “thrown in” involving a deal with the Rangers. I don’t think the Cubs FO considers him a centerpiece anymore.

      That being said, if you can get Olt dirt cheap, you do it. Bryant (still hasn’t signed) may be better suited for a corner OF spot and Lake is almost certain to be a utility type guy.

      The other thing is you obviously do grab Olt. If he gets it together and rebounds to his former self, the worst you have is an extremely valuable, tradeable piece going into the offseason/next year.

      1. Chad

        Careful, I think you might be shorting Lake. I think at the worst he is a utility guy, but if he puts it all together he could be a starting 3B prospect. I truly hope he does so Bryant can be moved to the outfield.

        1. Crockett

          You’re right, I “might” be. But I doubt it. I think you’re VERY happy if Lake turns into your #1 or #2 guy off the bench who can play LF, RF, and 3B.

        2. On The Farm

          Well yeah he has a shot at being a starting 3B prospect, but if I were a betting man I would be more inclined to place my money on what Crockett said rather than betting him to become a good 3B.

          I hope I am wrong because I agree it would be more preferable to have Lake/Bryant 3B/OF.

          1. Chad

            You guys might be right, but I have seen him do a lot better at the little things this year. Something that Castro does not do. He is starting to develop his tools a bit more, and part of that might be the fact that he has had more time to develop in the minors. I don’t know. I’m just saying I’m not ready to call him a utility guy yet. I still think Olt is a pass unless he’s just part of the deal now though. You can call me crazy, but I have done a 180. I think Lake can be an every day player. Last year I was hoping he was included in a trade in the off season. In my mind he has all the tools and is bigger than castro, plus I think he has developed a better approach as of late.

            1. Crockett

              He’s still a below-average defender and his K rate is still too high (18.4%) and his K/BB is still bad. His BABIP is .367 which inflates his stats a bit (he plays in the PCL…notorious hitter parks everywhere).

              I am NOT saying you’re wrong and that he cannot end up being an everyday guy. I am saying that if his current trajectory continues, he’s going to be a bench guy who has some power and some speed or he’s going to be included in an expanded trade.

        3. Hansman1982

          Ehhh lake has similar BB/K issues as Baez (although not as extreme) but without the power.

          Lake will be a derosa type. Just good enough to hang around until someone is lucky enough to get his career year.

  13. North Side Irish

    Eduardo A. Encina ‏@EddieInTheYard 31m
    Source said this week #Orioles were interested in Matt Garza b4 dealing 4 Feldman, but #Cubs wanted pkg that incl. Schoop & E. Rodriguez.

    1. Crockett

      Duquette is notoriously gun shy as well.

  14. PKJ

    Gallardo and Garza have very similar xFIP’s… Gallardo’s is at 3.84 and Garza’s is 3.98 …

    I suspect the Diamondbacks and everybody else knows this — that Gallardo is pitching better than his baseball card suggests. The inverse is true with Garza.

  15. Pizzle

    Not sure why Levine thinks the cubs won’t be spenders in this years free agent market. Theo’s somewhat on the clock and although I love how he’s rebuilt the farm system he’s gotta get some players with experience on the field. I have a hunch that if Price and Cano test the market they will both be on the cubs radar and if the the renovate Wrigley these two should both have definite interest in coming to Chicago. (This message contains a heavy dose of wishful thinking)

    1. Chad

      Theo is far from on the clock.

  16. scorecardpaul

    Please tell me why the Cubs shouldn’t trade for Ricky Nolasco. They basicly would be paying $6million dollars for a couple of prospects. They would also be controlling the market.
    The Marlins just want salary relief. The Cubs just want prospects. I am serious, please tell me why this doesn’t make sense. I think the Cubs should trade for him by paying the Marlins lots of cash, and then turn around and trade him for a couple of decent prospects??? They would get an added bonus of cornering the market on starting pitchers

    1. Crockett

      It is DEFINITELY an outside the box idea.

      Give the Marlins a C+ guy and agree to pay all of Nolasco’s deal and then flip him for a B+ guy.

      I like your thinking.

    2. On The Farm

      Because the Marlins have a shot at getting both salary relief and prospects by themselves. Why on god’s green earth would the Marlins trade Nolasco so that the Cubs can have the prospects?

      1. Crockett

        You’re right. But there are multiple articles out there now that the Marlins may have backed themselves into a corner because they’re being sort of ridiculous about the money left on his contract.

        1. On The Farm

          Yeah, granted this is the Franchise that had the whole Reyes/Burhle/Bell episode, but what team would trade a SP for a C+ prospect, knowing that club is a seller and is going to flip for a better prospect than they got for him. In that senario to me it seems better to find a contender willing to give them a C+ and salary relief, rather than sending him to the cubs.

          1. scorecardpaul

            and that is what the dodgers will do they will pay the entire remaining salary and give them a bad prospect. but then we have one less team that needs a starting pitcher. So my point is Cubs pay salary and give a bad prospect and then trade on our terms and get a decent prospect or 2???

            1. On The Farm

              I guess from our stand point its a good idea, but I dont see it happening. Also if we have both Nolasco and Garza teams will try and play them off each other trying to get a better deal. LA did this last year with Garza and Dempster. The FO would have its hands full trying to net two good returns.

              Just my $.02

      2. scorecardpaul

        because the Marlins are really only after cash. The owner is obviously a cheap sob.

  17. David

    Apparently, Soler’s injury is a compound fracture, and it’s no big deal.

    Steve (chicago)

    how worried are the cubs brass about the Soler injury?
    Bruce Levine (1:11 PM)

    I don’t have any info on how worried they are but it’s just a compound fracture. Doctors I have talked say that should heal. Epstein expects Soler to be playing in the Arizona Fall League in October.

    (It’s not a compound fracture)

  18. Die hard

    Don’t pull trigger til see whites of Yankees eyes… Then package Soriano Castro and anyone else who is not a Theo guy in a 15 player ball / blockbuster for every Cuban in the Yanks minor leagues

    1. Carew

      That is really, really stupid

  19. nkniacc13

    What’s interesting kind of is that for all the talk about cubs putting in OF in trades they have Dejesus, Schirholtz and Hariston all under contract for next year right?

    1. Crockett

      Yep. They all are under contract.

      I do believe that the Cubs will attempt to deal one of them before the deadline is over. I would deal Schierholtz…his value is unlikely to ever be any higher than it is right now.

  20. Here We Go: Cuban Pitcher Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez Free to Sign | Bleacher Nation | Chicago Cubs News, Rumors, and Commentary

    [...] Cubs are reported to have serious interest – they’ve scouted him heavily – but uncle moneybags (the Dodgers) is involved, and seems to be the favorite. The Cubs have [...]

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