Earlier today, we talked about how the midseason trade market might kick up earlier than usual this year, which is of obvious interest to the Cubs, given their expected standing as buyers (and also now projected standing as “needers”).
Right on cue, Jeff Passan reports that the Cubs “already are canvassing the significant market of starting pitchers likely to be available before the trade deadline, according to sources.”
The list of possibly-available starters includes guys like Yu Darvish, Gerrit Cole, Johnny Cueto, Jeff Samardzija, Jeremy Hellickson, Ervin Santana, Jason Vargas, Sonny Gray, Alex Cobb, Marco Estrada, and Matt Harvey, among many others. There will be options available in this trade market, both rentals and longer-term plays (Jose Quintana will be available, too, but he won’t realistically be available to the Cubs).
You shouldn’t be surprised that the Cubs are already doing work.
I say that not necessarily because of the state of the Cubs (as I said earlier today, it’s still way too early to even know with conviction what particular need the Cubs will be looking to fill on the rental market – even as we know the Cubs will always be looking to pick up a longer-term starting pitcher, if the right one is available). Instead, I say you shouldn’t be surprised that the Cubs are already canvassing the trade market because this front office is always working to think 15 steps ahead, and to never be caught flat-footed.
With rotation depth ever in question, one starter already injured, and questions throughout the rest of the rotation, it’s likely the Cubs will at least be at the periphery of the starting pitcher trade market come June and July. And if there are cost-controlled, longer-term starters made available, you can expect that the Cubs will be extremely active in talks. Whatever the needs this year, they are compounded by the fact that only Jon Lester and Kyle Hendricks are currently under contract for 2018 (Eddie Butler is under team control, too, but, as good as he was on Friday, there’s still a really long way to go before you can say he’s “a guy in the rotation” for 2018).
So then, even as the Cubs wouldn’t necessarily look to consummate a trade this early – and partners, too, would be reluctant – they do need to start getting a sense of who might become available. Good on them.
The rest of Passan’s piece is a good read on the state of the Cubs (panic not advised), and the stated of several slumping/struggling teams throughout baseball, and how that might impact the trade market.