Are you guys ready to turn this thing into high gear?
Now that the draft is behind us, rumor season will be full-bore from here on out. Everything we read and see (hugs!) might carry a bit more weight than it would have just a week ago. Late June trades are still more rare than their July counterparts, of course, but they are far from non-existent.
And, of course, you’ll recall the Cubs block bluster July 4th trade back in 2014 for Addison Russell (and others) in exchange for Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel. Big things can happen soon, so strap yourself in. The Cubs figure to be as busy as anyone.
Fresh from the stove …
- Of course, as Jon Heyman shrewdly points out, with so many teams hovering around .500, the buyers and sellers may not be clearly identifiable (even to themselves) for a couple more weeks. Even still, there are plenty of starters that are already considered definitely available, and those names include Jose Quintana, Ervin Santana, Johnny Cueto, Sonny Gray, Jeff Samardzija, Gerrit Cole and others. Obviously, Quintana and Cole present some challenges for the Cubs to acquire, but, as Heyman suggests, they also make the most sense (multiple years of control remaining, youth lining up with the core, etc). Who knows, maybe the Sox or Pirates will overlook their intra-city/divisional issues and pull the trigger.
- Interestingly, the Astros and Athletics are thought to be “mutually interested” in a similar intra-divisional trade for starter Sonny Gray (Nick Cafardo), so it’s not like these sorts are entirely unheard of.
- Of course, the Cubs have been previously connected to Gray, themselves, so maybe these divisional trades won’t even be necessary. Jon Heyman thinks he’s a great trade candidate, as he’s upped his game a bit lately. Indeed, among starters with at least 50 innings pitched this season, Gray’s 3.32 FIP ranks 20th in MLB and his 3.27 xFIP ranks 12th.
- The Pirates might trade Andrew McCutchen … or they might not. But they probably will, unless they don’t. Such is the confusion surrounding the Pirates’ desire to trade one of their biggest franchise players in the face of a losing season. They do have (prospect) Austin Meadows, (suspended) Starling Marte, and (a struggling) Gregory Polanco to cover the outfield for the years to come, but, as you can see by the parentheticals, each comes with his own issues. According to Ken Rosenthal, however, McCutchen is more likely to go than stay. The Cubs will not be involved, of course, but he could go to an outfield-needy team that they might face later on in the regular and post (fingers crossed) season. And any deal involving the Pirates is going to have some secondary impact on the Cubs, whether this year or down the road. Reminder, McCutchen’s turned things around lately (198 wRC+ over his past 92 plate appearances).
- Also from Rosenthal: “Don’t expect the Cubs to give up any of their young major-league hitters in a trade.” Rosenthal suggests that the Cubs will not be overreacting to slow starts for any of their young big leaguers, and will not be willing to move any of them in a trade. I could see that. Had everyone been firing on all cylinders (both health and production), I could see the Cubs moving one of their infielders, possibly even a popular one, for that cost-controlled young starter. But between Ben Zobrist’s injury, Addison Russell’s and Kyle Schwarber’s struggles, Javy Baez’s unevenness, and Ian Happ’s rookie-ness, the Cubs can’t afford to guess wrong with a trade *right now.* Instead, I expect all of these guys to stick around this season. If a trade’s going down, it might have to be from their Minor League system.
- Indeed, as Brett just recently wrote up, the Cubs have been connected to Chris Archer, but he’ll reportedly cost at least Eloy Jimenez, by far the Cubs’ best prospect, if they want a deal to get done.
- Jon Heyman has heard that Jake Arrieta should have no problem getting five years this winter, even after this relatively down 2017 season. And, in that case, he will probably be able to get six years (in other words, if five is all but a guarantee, he might be able to demand six from someone). And (again) if he does manage to get six years, you can count the Cubs out. “Not a chance” as one Cubs’ person put it. That’s probably the right call at that level.
- The Miami Marlins may be seven games under .500, but they’re not ready to blow things up just yet. According to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald, the Marlins prefer to wait out the next couple of weeks before making any of their more attractive trade candidates officially available. Theoretically, relievers A.J. Ramos and David Phelps and outfielders Christian Yelich and Marcell Ozuna could all become available soon, but again, not yet. Giancarlo Stanton, too, could be available, but, with his contract and standing in the organization, that’ll be held in abeyance until a new owner is in place. Given the current outfield and bullpen situation, these players probably don’t make the most sense for the Cubs, but if the Marlins open up shop, the buyers will be there.
- At Yahoo Sports, Jeff Passan writes about the best of the upcoming free agent class, headlined by starter Yu Darvish. Unfortunately, Darvish is not considered to be available this deadline, regardless of what happens to the Rangers. They are, for some reason, content with bringing him all the way to free agency, despite the significantly weakened compensation for losing such players. Shrug. The Cubs will probably be involved in his sweepstakes this winter. Jake Arrieta, for what it’s worth, comes in at number seven on the list, right ahead of Johnny Cueto (who’s not a lock for free agency).
- And finally, the Yankees will no longer have top prospect Gleyber Torres available for a midseason call up to continue sparking the offense. Today, the team announced the Torres has a torn UCL in his left arm (suffered, it seems, on a slide at home), and will undergo Tommy John surgery. Just a terrible break for a young player who was learning third base so that he could come up soon.
Brett Taylor contributed to this post.