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carlos villanueva the stacheBoth the Los Angeles Angels and Los Angeles Dodgers are looking for pitching help, which may or may not ultimately prove relevant to the Chicago Cubs. It sounds like the Angels are looking exclusively for a starter, while the Dodgers could go for more of a swing man.

Incidentally, the Cubs have two starting pitchers they would be opening to moving, and each could theoretically be a fit for the LA teams: Edwin Jackson and Carlos Villanueva.

You know the story with Jackson, who is owed a little more than $3 million the rest of this season, and then $11 million in each of 2015 and 2016. He’ll clear waivers – if he hasn’t already – this month given the salary and underperformance this year, but it’s always possible that, if the Cubs eat enough salary, a team will be willing to gamble on Jackson’s upside (he still has it) and not-quite-terrible peripherals. I doubt either LA team, deep in a playoff race, would really want to hand regular starts to Jackson, given the unpredictability of his performance this year. I recently wrote about the possibility of the Cubs trading Jackson this month, and am generally not optimistic. But it’s conceivable. We’ll see if either LA team is interested.

As for Villanueva, he’s a free agent at the end of the year who will make about $1.5 million the rest of the way. Although you couldn’t say he’s done it this year, Villanueva has been a successful swing man in the past. And, out of the bullpen, he’s been nails this year: 2.70 ERA over 40 innings, holding opposing batters to a .297 wOBA, with a 23.4% K rate and 7.8% BB rate. Those are excellent numbers.

The thing on trading Villanueva is that, while you don’t expect him to be back next year, and getting salary relief is always nice, I wouldn’t expect the Cubs to land a notable prospect in a deal for Villanueva. At that point, you have to ask whether saving a million bucks is more attractive than the stability/veteran leadership/good clubhouse presence Villanueva can provide over the last couple months (and the generally positive message that keeping him would send to other players, as opposed to dumping him for nothing). When rosters expand on September 1, it’s not like Villanueva is going to be blocking any other pitchers from getting time.

Long story short: the Cubs may have some options for the Dodgers and Angels. There aren’t that many attractive pitchers available this time of year who can actually make it through waivers, so you never know.

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