Are you aware that the 2016 MLB Non-waiver trade deadline date has been moved back one day this year, to August 1 (previously July 31)?
You are now.
But that’s still quite a ways away, and we have plenty of rumors to get to before then …
- At The Athletic, Jon Greenberg discusses the upcoming trade deadline and the Cubs’ needs with Theo Epstein, specifically through the lens of adding someone with a questionable reputation. Epstein, being the balanced man that he tends to be, responds with his own version of it depends. He doesn’t want a roster filled with 25 choirboys, but he admits that avoiding the situation where someone can disturb the vibe is important, too. Interestingly, he added that the way to avoid that kind of mistake is by having “an open, honest transparent dialogue about it with some key people.” The reason this is a story, of course, is in light of the recent Aroldis Chapman rumors. Chapman, you’ll recall, was suspended 30 games at the beginning of the season for an alleged domestic violence incident, but has been an oft-discussed trade target for the Chicago Cubs, as well. If he’s available and the Cubs have the ability to acquire Chapman, Epstein will be forced to tackle the off-field questions head on. (Note that he did not discuss Chapman directly in the piece.)
- But if the Yankees do make one of Chapman or Andrew Miller available to the Cubs, they’ll have to find a way to make a deal without Javier Baez. According to Ken Rosenthal at Fox Sports, Baez has quickly entered into the “untouchable,” category of the roster (in regards to a trade for either of the Yankees lefty power relievers), after a nice start to the season at the plate, impressive defensive capabilities, and the ability to play all across the diamond. If you’re looking for some Baez love, that’s the place. There are plenty of other names that could theoretically be made available, though, and Rosenthal loosely mentions prospects Jeimer Candelario, Mark Zagunis, Ian Happ, Gleyber Torres, or Eloy Jimenez.
- But all of this depends on whether or not the Yankees want to sell anyone, let alone either one of those relievers, let alone to the Chicago Cubs, let alone for anyone (or more) of the players listed above. That’s a lot of question marks. At MLBTR, Jeff Todd writes that the Yankees might be both buyers and sellers this deadline – that, according to GM Brian Cashman. The biggest issue for the team right now, is the lack of clarity on whether they are capable of competing or not. As of my writing this, the Yankees (35-36) are a game under .500, six games back of the Orioles in the East (fourth place), and are 3.5 games back of a Wild Card slot (behind six other teams). Even still, you’re going to want to root for a quick losing streak up to and through the All-Star break, if you have Miller or Chapman on the mind.
- Switching gears, Michael Bradburn writes that the Atlanta Braves should probably consider trading reliever/closer and former Cub Arodys Vizcaino, who’s finally gotten off to a hot start here in 2016. In his 29.1 innings pitched, Vizcaino has a 2.08 ERA (2.46 FIP) and has struck out a phenomenal 33.6% of batters faced, while walking an acceptable (for that strikeout rate) 10.7% of them. Connecting dots of his own, Bradburn writes that both the Cubs and Giants have been in the market for relievers, implying that either team could make some sense. Having previously been in the Cubs system, the front office will be very familiar with Vizcaino – which may work in or against a trade’s favor. Lastly, it’s important to note that Vizcaino underwent Tommy John surgery in 2012 and was suspended for performance-enhancing drugs in 2015.
- According to Jon Morosi on Twitter, the Marlins – who are currently just a half game out of the second Wild Card, mind you – are looking at both starters and relievers on the trade market, including the Rays’ Jake Odorizzi. What’s interesting about that (other than the fact that I’d love nothing more than for the Marlins to make the playoffs over the Cardinals) is the potential availability of Odorizzi. If you recall, over the offseason, the Cubs were pretty heavily linked to the Rays starter, even though nothing ultimately came from it. So far this season (15 starts), Odorizzi, 26, has a 3.63 ERA (3.99 FIP) with a 23.8% strikeout rate and a 7.8% walk rate. Acquiring a guy like Odorizzi – who won’t be a free agent until 2020, by the way – would have as much to do with 2017 and beyond as it would with the second half of 2016.
- At the San Diego Union-Tribune, scouts (via Dennis Lin) weigh in on the Padres’ potential trade candidates. Among the names mentioned that could make sense for the Cubs, you’ll find closer Fernando Rodney (yes that one), who has a 0.34 ERA (2.41 FIP) across 26.2 innings this season (daaaaaayuuum – prolly shoulda held onto him … ) and lefty starter Drew Pomeranz (3.00 ERA, 3.44 FIP). Both could make sense for the Cubs, in different ways. Rodney could help out the pen down the stretch like he did last year, and Pomeranz can help fortify the middle to back of the rotation from now until the end of 2018. That said, while the former seems to be eminently available, the latter is someone an AL scout said the Padres may try to hold on to, given how rare “affordable left-handed starters” are to come by.
- The Dodgers have held a private workout for free agent Cuban infielder Yulieski Gurriel yesterday, according to sources cited by J.P. Hoonstra, though he reportedly has a workout lined up with the New York Mets and at least one other team. If you recall, Gurriel is/was the best player in Cuba before he left and is expected to immediately contribute at the Major League Level, for at least this season. According to MLBTR, a good estimate for his contract is somewhere in the four year/$40-$44 million range. The Cubs will very likely not be involved in this one, but if he goes to someone like the Mets or Dodgers, he could play a role in the Cubs’ future one way or another.