The All-Star Game is over, which means we’re very likely to see the rumor mill heat up aggressively over the last two weeks of the month. As they did last year, the Chicago Cubs got busy long before the All-Star break, but, unlike last year, the Cubs did it this time with their best trade chips. That means, as the rumor mill heats up, the Cubs will probably not be among the most heavily-mentioned teams.
Howeva, that is not to say that the Cubs do not still have worthwhile pieces to shop, should teams come calling. To the extent you can say a fan base like that of the Cubs has been spoiled, we’ve been spoiled by the Cubs’ wealth of upper tier trade pieces over the last few years. Thus, we tend to forget that the majority of trade season deals that go down involve lesser, complementary pieces – and the Cubs are relatively flush with those.
Among them, the Cubs have outfielder Justin Ruggiano – .292/.360/.455, .360 wOBA, 127 wRC+, plays every defensive position – and swing man Carlos Villanueva – struggled as a starter, but has a 3.45 ERA, 3.68 FIP, and 3.78 xFIP as a reliever.
I mention those two, in particular, because Bruce Levine has reported (hat tip to the CCO) that the Kansas City Royals had been scouting the duo up and into the All-Star break. The Royals stand at 48-46 right now, 6.5 games behind the Tigers in the AL Central, but just 2.5 games behind the Mariners for the second AL Wild Card spot. Adding a marginal win or two by the end of the year could be huge for them.
Offensively, the Royals have been in need of another bat or two for quite some time, so Ruggiano makes sense in that regard. Villanueva, as a swing man, makes theoretical sense for just about any team, so long as they’re looking for depth, rather than impact. Villanueva is making just $5 million this year, and Ruggiano is making just $2 million, so, the balance of what they’re owed is rather small. Ruggiano also comes with two more years of team control via arbitration, should the acquiring team be interested.
We’ll see if anything more comes out of this, with respect to the Royals and these players, specifically. If the Cubs do elect to move these guys – and I’d argue that holding onto Ruggiano could make some sense, absent a worthwhile return – packaging them and consolidating the return will always make the most sense. No, you’re not going to get a top tier prospect no matter how many complementary pieces you bundle, but you can definitely walk away with something notable.
The one caveat I’ve always got to mention with complementary – as opposed to impact – player additions: there will be a lot of these types of players available come July 30/31.