I suppose I should remind you upfront: The Chicago Cubs have recently traded four players, including top prospect Gleyber Torres and Major League pitcher Adam Warren, in exchange for Yankees’ closer Aroldis Chapman.
If you’ve somehow managed to miss that trade and the ensuing internet explosion, then you must be Ron Swanson.
While it’s true that the recent trades for both Mike Montgomery and Aroldis Chapman appear to fulfill the Cubs’ primary needs this deadline (a left-handed reliever and a back-end, impact-type arm), the Cubs are not likely done.
This front office will be extremely active up until and through the deadline, looking for other parts to complement the roster. It’s quite possible, in fact, that they’ll look to do something else big – like a capable starting pitcher, or a bat in the outfield – now that they are essentially all-in for 2016 (Chapman is a rental, headed towards free agency at the end of the season).
Further, the Cubs don’t compete in a vacuum, and moves around the rest of the league can impact the Cubs on and off the field.
That’s why we need to keep a finger on the pulse of the stove (and donate to the BN Blogathon to support Make-A-Wish).
- To that end, Jed Hoyer had some fairly telling remarks a few days ago on MLB Network Radio, regarding the ability to squeeze in an impact arm (reliever or otherwise):
— MLB Network Radio (@MLBNetworkRadio) July 22, 2016
- Of course, on the one hand, you could retroactively apply his words to the move for Chapman (despite the previous acquisition of Montgomery), but on the other hand, it could give you hope for another trade, perhaps in the rotation. Hoyer explicitly states that no team’s rotation or bullpen is ever perfect, and that there is always room for an impact pitcher on a roster. Given the Cubs’ strong starting five, but relatively weak depth – especially now that Adam Warren is gone – you shouldn’t be surprised to see the Cubs attached to more starting pitcher rumors before all is said and done.
- And to take it a step further, even if you don’t hear anything specific tying the Cubs to a starter, that doesn’t mean that nothing is brewing behind the scenes:
Dombrowski said he received five trade proposals today alone, but no, Red Sox not close to making any deals.
— Scott Lauber (@ScottLauber) July 25, 2016
The inclusion of the tweet is simply meant to remind you that 99% of the dealings are going on beyond the reach of reporters or the public. The Cubs front office, in particular, has been decidedly tight-lipped in recent years. If there’s another move out there for the Cubs, it may take you completely by surprise.
- Now that Aroldis Chapman has been traded to Chicago for a relative haul, the market for impact relievers has certainly exploded. The Kansas City Royals, for one example, have been fielding inquiries about closer Wade Davis, although it doesn’t sound like a deal is quite close to happening:
An example of deals the Royals are mulling: A team that asked about Wade Davis said it was told the Chapman package "wouldn't get it done"
— Jayson Stark (@jaysonst) July 25, 2016
- Now, Davis, 30, is a bit older than Chapman, 28, but has displayed similar (albeit lesser) dominance over a pretty long stretch, himself. He also comes with a $10 million club option in 2017, before becoming a free-agent in 2018. That said, according to Jeff Passan, the Royals haven’t really moved beyond the exploratory phase about their closer, and will continue to value him very highly. How highly you ask? Well, when rumors sprung up connecting Davis to the Nationals (who’ve missed out on Chapman), Passan said the name that came up was Lucas Giolito – one of the very top prospects in all of baseball, and the top pitching prospect for certain.
- Also from that Passan piece, the Diamondbacks are ready to deal (or rather, make available) starter Shelby Miller, whom they acquired this past offseason for a huge bounty. The problem, as I’m sure you can imagine, is that Miller has not pitched well at all this season, meaning his price tag will be far lower than the package of top players the D-backs gave up previously. [Brett: You can’t assume his issues are correctable, but boy does he seem like a really good fit for the Cubs for 2017 and beyond, if he can be had at a reclamation-type price.]
- Also, also from that Passan piece are notes on several other potentially impactful trade candidates from around baseball. Most notably, Passan checks in on the availability and price tag of White Sox starters Chris Sale and Jose Quintana. Expectedly, the price tag on each is sky high, starting – at a minimum – with every team’s top prospect (although, Passan notes, not every team even has anyone near the type of top prospect needed (think Yoan Moncada, Andrew Benintendi, Julio Urias, Nomar Mazara, Alex Bregman, etc.) for Sale). It certainly is a sellers’ market, and there’s no indication that other higher-end pieces like Julio Teheran will be made available. The price of poker was already high, and then the Cubs may have raised the stakes.
- Coming off a season in which he finished third in the American League Cy Young Award voting, Oakland A’s starting pitcher Sonny Gray has had one nightmare of a season (5.49 ERA, 4.66 FIP). His most recent start – 5.0 IP, 7 earned runs – may have put a nail in the coffin of any potential trade, because he won’t have enough time to reestablish himself as the guy he once was. In other words, at this point, a contender couldn’t really acquire Gray under the guise of leaning on him for the stretch run. Instead, the focus of a trade would have to be on a longer term move, with eyes on 2017 and beyond. The problem is that an acquiring team will frame it that way, while the A’s will hold their valuation at a level of their former ace. The difference will more than likely be debilitating to a trade.
- That’s a bummer for the A’s, of course, who hoped to reap the benefits of a nice trade deadline haul, for more than just Gray – like, for example, Rich Hill. Hill had previously been considered the top available rental starter on the market, but he might not make another start before the deadline, due to a apparently severe blister problem on his pitching hand. The Orioles, Marlins and Rangers had all been evaluating Hill, before the blister slowed the trade talks, and it’s fair to wonder where their attention will turn now.
- Sticking with the A’s for a second longer, their last remaining trade piece, then, might be outfielder Josh Reddick. Only problem is that he, too, has recently been injured (hitting the DL for a while with a broken thumb) and was taken out of Friday night’s game. That one might not be too serious, though:
Reddick says his back just sort of stiffened up in 12th inning (of 13) Friday night. He's fine now.
— Susan Slusser (@susanslusser) July 25, 2016
- According to Jon Morosi, the Cubs are among one of the suitors for Reddick (or rather, a corner outfielder), along with the Indians and Dodgers. Morosi also connects the same three teams to Cincinnati’s Jay Bruce. There’s plenty more in Morosi’s article, including rumors on Matt Shoemaker, Anthony DeSclafani and Andrew Cashner. So check it out.
- And finally, at the Boston Globe, Nick Cafardo does his usual information, data analysis, and rumor dump, with a collection of interesting bits all about. Among the most notable (or potentially Cubs-related), is that the Rays are torn over whether they should deal any one of their multiple starting pitchers this deadline. This list, you’ll recall, includes Alex Cobb, Chris Archer, Matt Moore, Jake Odorizzi, Blake Snell, Drew Smyly, and Matt Andriese. Moore, Archer and Odorizzi, in particular, have been drawing the most attention and each has been connected to the Cubs in the past. Among the most notable/realistic Archer suitors, however, you’ll find the Los Angeles Dodgers. A deal for Archer, like Gray though, may be hard to complete when their present production doesn’t align with their historical statistics.