Although we’ve mostly been beating the “It’s still too early for any actual, significant moves,” drum this season, that may no longer be the case. It is officially June, after all.
Significant moves have been made in June in the past, and one fairly big – at least in notoriety – move has already been pulled off by the White Sox (the trade for James Shields). With the Draft happening this weekend, we might see things turn up a few notches in short order.
With that said, let’s take a look at some of the most recent rumors around the league, and see how they may or may not affect the Chicago Cubs …
- Although some positions will be scarcely available on the trade market, writes Buster Olney at ESPN, the relief market figures to be robust. That is probably good news for a contending Chicago Cubs team that appears to be most likely to make a move in the bullpen this deadline, should they make any moves at all. Among the names expected to be discussed, Olney mentions Andrew Miller (Yankees), Aroldis Chapman (Yankees), Fernando Rodney (Padres), Will Smith (Brewers), Jeremy Jeffress (Brewers), Hector Neris (Phillies), David Phelps (Marlins), Sean Doolittle (Athletics), David Hernandez (Phillies), Marc Rzepczynski (Athletics) and Fernando Abad (Twins).
- More specifically, the Cubs were mentioned alongside the Rangers, Giants and Dodgers as teams that “could be aggressive in pursuit” of the Yankees’ lefty Andrew Miller – which we’ve heard many times before. Then there’s Fernando Rodney, whom the Cubs picked up last season. He isn’t specifically mentioned in connection to the Cubs, but he hasn’t allowed an earned run in 20 games this season and can shoot a pretty mean arrow. While we’ll never know who the Cubs are targeting specifically (Miller seems like a safe bet, but will the Yankees sell?), it does seem like they will look to make a move in the bullpen.
- On the rotational side of trade rumors, Nick Cafardo (Boston Globe) mentions that each of Phil Hughes, Anibal Sanchez, Justin Verlander, Julio Teheran, Rich Hill, Sonny Gray, and Andrew Cashner might be available by the time the August 1 deadline comes to pass. Each pitcher comes with a varying degree of #want, but with pretty obvious amounts of risk/downside, as well. Cafardo also mentions a bunch of other probably available relievers that didn’t get a mention at ESPN, including Tyler Clippard, Daniel Hudson, Brad Ziegler, Arodys Vizcaino, Jake McGee, and more.
- But the Cubs won’t be the only ones looking for bullpen help this summer, and they will certainly not be the only ones looking at the Yankees stable of high-end relievers. At Nationals.com, Bill Ladson writes that the Nats are “hoping Yankees relievers Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman are available before the deadline.” The Nationals are apparently happy with Jonathan Papelbon’s results this season (3.18 ERA), but are slightly worried (implied) about his diminished velocity and strikeout rate. He also has a 3.2% HR/FB ratio which will not last and is the basis of an xFIP (4.69) that suggests the worst is yet to come. Ladson goes on to add that the Nats might even look to trade Papelbon if they could pull off a deal with the Yankees.
- At FanGraphs, Dave Cameron discusses the coming shortage of available outfielders in the trade market. In addition to the Giants, Indians, Nationals, Red Sox, Mariners and Orioles, the Cubs are mentioned as a team that may look to the trade market for an outfielder, “if Jorge Soler doesn’t start hitting fairly soon.” To which I’d defensively respond that since May 18, Soler’s slash line is .286/.412/.571 in over 50 plate appearances. We’ve read about many connections to Josh Reddick in the past, but with Kris Bryant’s ability to play left field (Javy Baez/Tommy La Stella covering third) and Soler’s upward trend, I’m not quite sure the Cubs will be too serious about a move in the outfield. That said, Cameron mentions the list of potentially available outfielders, including Ryan Braun, Jay Bruce, Matt Kemp, Nick Markakis, Desmond Jennings, Josh Reddick, Brett Gardner, and Charlie Blackmon. Shrug. We’ll have to just wait and see. If the Cubs make a move, my bet is it comes on the pitching side (absent an injury).
- The Dodgers have designated former Theo Epstein signee Carl Crawford for assignment after he started the season hitting .185/.230/.235 with declining defensive abilities. The Dodgers still owe Crawford about $17 million this year and another $21.8 million for 2017. It’s not clear what Crawford would do (and don’t get me wrong, I’m not implying that the Cubs would take a flyer; I actually rather doubt it), but I’m guessing someone will give the former All-Star a go-of-it, at least on a minor league deal.
- Did you forget about Lazarito? According to Ben Badler, Lazaro “Lazarito” Armenteros will take part in a Cuban showcase on June 13 … just two days before the 2015-216 signing period closes. If he doesn’t sign by the time the period closes, the Cubs (and many others) will be effectively excluded from the sweepstakes. It seems that if he had an intention of signing before then, he wouldn’t hold the showcase so close to the deadline, but it’s always possible that his camp did so to drive up some last minute pressure/leverage. In other words, you can imagine a scenario where he can now more seriously threaten to wait a few days and completely eliminate a team’s ability to sign him. More likely, though, is that he’ll be signing in the next period.
- Tonny La Russa understands Diamondbacks fans’ frustration with the performance so far (D-Backs are 9 games under .500), but warns against blowing anything up too soon: “But we’re not giving in. We’re not giving up. There’s too much talent here. What you can’t do, you can’t say it’s only the beginning of June, we’ve got four months to play. You can’t say that. You have to fix everything you can as soon as possible. Feel that urgency.” Maybe, but they’re in a pretty big hole (fourth place in the NL West behind the Rockies, Dodgers and a full 10.0 games behind the first place Giants). It is early, but they’ve dug themselves about as big of a hole as a team can. I’m envisioning a 2015 San Diego Padres fiasco, where they refuse to make any moves at the deadline and are worse for it in the long run. Once again, we’ll just have to wait and see what they do.
- Something to keep an eye on out of Cleveland:
Source: There is serious concern from Indians that Michael Brantley is going to miss a significant amount of time with his shoulder injury.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) June 6, 2016
Brett Taylor contributed to this post.