Following a tough week for the Chicago Cubs, where, among other things, the needs in the bullpen were highlighted, it’s unsurprising that bullpen-related rumor chatter remains in the headlines. The Cubs’ front office has not been secretive about the possibility that they’ll seek upgrades there, and it’s not hard to see that a competitive team like the Chicago Cubs could be greatly bolstered by the addition of another quality late-inning arm.
The most frequent subjects of those rumors currently reside in the New York Yankees bullpen, as the Cubs have previously scouted all of Aroldis Chapman, Andrew Miller, and Dellin Betances.
And a new report out of New York indicates that the Cubs are still at it, sending top scouts this weekend to watch the trio of arms, according to George A. King III. The Yankees, King says, are “expected to dangle at least Miller and Chapman and certainly would listen on Betances.”
The obligatory caveat to any and all “this team is scouting these players” reports: teams scout other teams all the time for a variety of reasons. This particular situation gets more attention because of the obvious potential alignment of trade interests, and also because the Yankees and Cubs both move the needle. That said, reporters generally tend not to mention these things – especially not with such certainty and not multiple times – unless there’s a little more knowledge underlying what’s written.
As we’ve discussed before, the Yankees’ arms are not the only ones that will be available this trade season, but they are probably up there as the most impactful. Sometimes I get the feeling that, because they’re on the same team, people think the trio is getting lumped together for convenience. But, no – these three really are among the five or so best relievers in all of baseball, in a tier entirely above and beyond even the many other excellent relievers you could name off the top of your head. These three, specifically, are special.
Of course, none of this matters if the Yankees don’t actually sell, something they continue to mull, even as they wrapped up a 7-7 stretch against lousy teams.
Although the Yankees are at .500, they are 7.5 games out in the AL East, behind every team except the foundering Rays. They are 2.5 games back of the second Wild Card spot, but would, at present, have to pass six teams to actually get there.
As things stand, I don’t see the Yankees selling off a piece – even a short-term piece like Chapman – any time soon unless the return improved their team for this year and beyond. And that’s a tough deal to swing with a team that would be interested in a short-term piece like Chapman.
So, then, I’d more likely expect the Yankees to wait this thing out for a good long while before making a decision on buying or selling. And, for the Cubs’ part, they’re going to want to keep doing their due diligence on these arms, and others around the league (and also internally) so they can be ready if and when the right deal presents itself.