At the beginning of Sunday’s fun, extra-innings win over the Washington Nationals, there was one very scary moment when Dexter Fowler took a pitch off the back of his hand. He hunched over in pain, rather dramatically, and Joe Maddon even ran out of the dugout to check on him.
That’s about when I fainted.
Luckily, Fowler ended up staying in the game (he even hit a double in his very next at bat), but I was reminded of a haunting truth: with Kyle Schwarber already out for the season, the Cubs’ outfield depth could become scary very quickly.
Even with all of the versatility and positional flexibility of the Chicago Cubs, losing two starting outfielders for an extended period of time might be too much too handle. Just something to chew on, particularly within the context of some recent rumors.
- To that end, at ESPN, Jim Bowden openly wonders whether the Cubs may pursue some outfield trade options as the season develops. There doesn’t seem to be anything particularly concrete, so don’t go running wild with the names – it sounds more like Bowden is simply connecting some dots on his own – but he does mention several specific names: Carlos Gonzalez, Jay Bruce, Nick Markakis, Ryan Braun and Josh Reddick.
- We’ve heard a lot of Carlos Gonzalez rumors over the years, but his value in trade (and to his own team (whomever that may be)) seems to vary quite dramatically from season to season. Agreeing on fair value from him might prove difficult. Bruce, Markakis and Braun each come at varying levels of attractiveness (and varying levels of concern), but we haven’t heard too much connecting them to the Cubs in the past. Reddick, on the other hand, has come up in the recent past, and is about to once again …
- In a piece from Nick Cafardo at the Boston Globe, Cafardo mentions that Reddick, who is set to be a free agent come season’s end, is likely on the trade block for the Oakland Athletics. Whether that is based on a specific tip isn’t entirely clear, but it’s a fairly safe to assume that Billy Beane will not allow a valuable asset go un-tapped for the entirety of an expectedly uncompetitive season. There is a brief mention about Reddick’s past with Cubs President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein, and we’ve heard that story before.
- Reddick, for what its worth, is a reasonably attractive trade target (and upcoming free agent, for that matter). At just 29 years old, Reddick is hitting .319/.375/.474, with a fantastic 14.8% strikeout rate from the corner outfield. The thing is, he used to be known for elite defense in those spots, but hasn’t really seen the same results (by the advanced metrics) over the past two seasons. I’d argue that the Cubs would be more interested in Reddick (if they are at all) if they still consider his defense in left field a strength. Being that the Cubs have managed their outfield sans Schwarber well enough for now, and being that it’s still only May, I wouldn’t expect to hear too much on this for a while yet.
- From that same Cafardo piece (there’s really a lot of good stuff in there), Cafardo briefly touches upon the availability of Braves starting pitcher Julio Teheran. Teheran, 25, has long dazzled scouts with his raw stuff, but has also been more upside than results over the past two years. On the season, for example, he’s (as a pitcher) slashing 3.48/3.85/4.15 with fairly average strikeout (22.3%) and walk rates (8.0%). Still, he’s cost controlled through the 2019 season (plus one club option year in 2020 worth $12 million ($1M buyout)), and we recently saw how dominating he can be. At his age, with his promise and that length of control, Teheran will likely cost a lot to pry loose from the Atlanta Braves.
- One of my favorite stories around baseball right now is Tim Lincecum’s expected return to the Major Leagues. On Friday, Lincecum held an open showcase at the Giants Spring Training facility and there were many teams in attendance. Among the most interested, according to Jon Heyman, were the White Sox, Angels, Diamondbacks and Giants, although the Padres, Dodgers, A’s, Rangers, Astros, Marlins, Nationals, Orioles and “many others” were said to have been in attendance.
- And hey, how can you blame them? Despite having a rough go of it over the past few years, Lincecum is still a two time Cy Young Award winner and is just 31 years old. According to Heyman, he was clocked between 89-92 MPH with an exceptionally sharp curveball and changeup. For what it’s worth, his average fastball velocity was 92.7 MPH during his four All-Star years (2008-2011).
- In a separate report on Twitter, Heyman indicates that a decision from Lincecum is likely to come sometime this week. Although the Cubs are usually pretty tight lipped about this sort of stuff, their lack of connection to Lincecum has been quite apparent so far. So, I wouldn’t expect too much on that front.
- Lastly, an update on young Japanese star Shohei Otani:
— Jim Allen (@JballAllen) May 7, 2016
- That’s simultaneously fun and interesting (Otani is a very good hitter and an even better pitcher), but it is of course, not entirely up to him. For one, his team needs to decide to post him (which is far from guaranteed in the short term while he’s still under many more years of team control in the NPB, and becomes less likely with a capped posting amount of $20M), and for another, I’m guessing he’ll have to make a dedicated and final decision on whether he wants to be a pitcher or a hitter, and focus solely on that in the majors. Not many people could truly be successful at both, even those as talented as Otani.