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[Brett: A number of updates below, including official confirmation. Original text follows.]

Just as the Cubs were wrapping up a series win against the New York Mets, rumors started flying around baseball.

At first, we didn’t have many details, besides Tim Kurkjian commenting that the Cubs and the Mariners may have made a deal, but that he didn’t know any details or specifics

Since then, however, more details have leaked and it appears that the Cubs may in fact be close to trading Triple-A first baseman Dan Vogelbach (and possible more) in exchange for left-handed reliever Mike Montgomery:



On the surface, this rumor makes a heck of a lot of sense. The Cubs have long been searching for a left-handed reliever to bolster their bullpen and Montgomery is a good one. Across 61.2 innings pitched this season, Montgomery has a 2.34 ERA (3.20 FIP), a 21.6% strike out rate and a 7.2% walk rate. Lefties are hitting just .162/.269/.254 off Montgomery this year.

At the same time, Vogelbach has long been a rumored trade candidate for the Cubs and his big lefty bat, but limited defense (positionally) would make him a perfect candidate for an American League roster.

UPDATE: And just like that, Ken Rosenthal is confirming the deal:

We’ll have more for you shortly, as this continues to unfold.



UPDATE 2 (Brett): There’ll be more to unpack on this as the context for it develops, but the instant reaction, if it’s a one-for-one swap – that’s a nice get for the Cubs for Vogelbach. To be sure, Vogelbach has huuuuge upside in his bat, and he’s showing it this year, but as a blocked, un-big-league-proven, probably-DH-only bat, the market for his services was always going to be limited.

Montgomery, who just turned 27, probably sounds like a familiar name, since he was a top 30 prospect in baseball for a while. He’s finally found footing with the Mariners this year, as Michael noted above, after a mixed rookie campaign in 2015. Yes, Montgomery’s rookie year was as a 25/26-year-old, as it took him a bit to break into the big leagues, despite the top prospect status. That’s something we’ll have to dig more into when we’re not typing on the fly. The talent is obviously there, though.

Montgomery’s not even arbitration-eligible until 2019, and can pitch both in relief and in the rotation. Insta-reaction is that this is a good short AND long-term get for the Cubs.

UPDATE 3 (Brett): We’ll see if this is actually the final deal, though, as Jon Morosi hears there could be more pieces:



UPDATE 4 (Brett): While we await any additional names or details, a quick thought on the bullpen and trade season impact (again, this is the kind of thing we’ll deconstruct in greater detail in the coming days). By moving early on Montgomery, the Cubs are less beholden to the whims of the deadline, and they also have more protection against injury in the bullpen or rotation, juuuust in case something popped up before August 1. Now they will not be desperate. I suspect they’ll keep their eyes and ears open if the right opportunity comes along, but now there is much less of a need.

Montgomery figures to slide right into the pen as a swing lefty, perhaps mostly working lefty-heavy innings right now. That could be an issue for Brian Matusz, who figured to slide into that role soon. We’ll see how that plays out (if Matusz is pitching well, which he could be, there will be room one way or another). Longer-term, though, Montgomery is under team control and still has starter upside.

UPDATE 5 (Brett): Kinda crazy the times in which we live:

UPDATE 6 (Brett and Michael(!)): Looks like there are a couple other arms in the deal to balance things out:

Blackburn, 22, is a command/control guy at AA who has been getting solid results for years without killer peripherals to back it up. That doesn’t mean he can’t be a future big leaguer, but he doesn’t necessarily have great stuff or a big fastball. Sometimes that plays (see today’s Cubs starter for an extreme example), but usually it does not.

Blackburn is Rule 5 eligible this year, by the way.

UPDATE 7 (Brett): The other arm the Cubs are getting:

We’ll have to give Pries a deeper look in the coming days, but, on the surface, he looks to be a AAA depth type, pitching in relief and in the rotation. He’s a 26-year-old righty who’s got a 3.65 ERA and 3.05 FIP in limited duty at AAA this year (looks to perhaps have improved a bit upon returning to AAA in 2016 after first getting there a couple years ago).

Given my feelings on Montgomery, I didn’t expect the “other” piece the Cubs were getting to be significant. That is to say, Vogelbach and Blackburn for Montgomery seems pretty fair.

UPDATE 8 (Brett): It’s officially official. The Cubs get Mike Montgomery and Jordan Pries, while the Mariners get Dan Vogelbach and Paul Blackburn. Much more on this deal and the fallout in the coming days.

UPDATE 9 (Brett): For more from Theo Epstein on how they could proceed from here, check out this follow-up.




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