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Lukewarm Stove: Trouble with Trading Verlander, Trade Market Competition, Fulmer, Gray, More

Chicago Cubs Rumors, MLB News and Rumors
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In a trade season with plenty of sellers and buyers, there hasn’t been a ton of movement yet (well, any movement, really). But I wouldn’t bet on that continuing.

While the draft is the first big goalpost – a sort of unofficial starting point for the rumor season – the All-Star Game is often the goalpost for actual dealing. As soon as tomorrow, the rumors will start heating up and moves will probably start to trickle out. Pay attention, because things can move quickly from there.

  • One of the Cubs’ biggest and most fleshed out rumors this summer has undoubtedly revolved around Justin Verlander. The former Cy Young award winner was connected to the Cubs back in June, but the smoke has since cooled (instead, the Cubs are thought to be looking at two other Tigers pitchers). Ken Rosenthal explains, in general, why a deal might be hard to pull off:

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  • In a brief slideshow at the Chicago Tribune, Mark Gonzales lists out potential trade partners and targets for the Cubs this July. The list includes the Athletics (Sonny Gray), Rays (Chris Archer, Alex Cobb, and Jake Odorizzi), Tigers (Daniel Norris), Orioles (Kevin Gausman), and the Marlins (no one in particular). As for the validity or likelihood of that list, I’ll say that Sonny Gray remains a reasonably possible target, while the Rays’ starters probably are not, given the team’s competitiveness. Daniel Norris was just recently rumored to the Cubs, so he is still in the game, while Kevin Gausman has been an on-again, off-again background Cubs rumor for a while. I’m not really sure whom the Cubs would target in Miami (Dan Straily?), though I suppose there’s plenty of depth types to be had.
  • This summer, the Cubs’ biggest competition for a starting pitcher likely comes from the Astros and Yankees, both of which are teams with deep prospect pockets. However, there’s a potential silver lining in the competition and his name is Jose Quintana. The White Sox starter is still the primary target for both AL teams and that’s a good thing for the Cubs, who aren’t likely to secure Quintana’s services no matter what (because White Sox). If either of the Yankees or Astros land Quintana, the Cubs will have one less competitor in the market for arms they can actually land.

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  • Unfortunately, the Sox asking price remains sky high. From the Yankees, the Sox are asking for a package headlined by either Clint Frazier or Gleyber Torres (which, yeah, that’s pricey). And from the Astros, the Sox are asking for top pitching prospect Francis Martes and outfielder Kyle Tucker. Quintana is under team control and is very good, but those are close-your-eyes-and-pull-the-trigger packages. We’ll see. For what it’s worth, Jon Heyman also suggests that the Astros have called the Braves on Julio Teheran and the Mets on Jacob deGrom, though it isn’t clear how interested either team is in moving their young starters.
  • Along with Daniel Norris, the Cubs were rumored to have called the Tigers on 2016 AL Rookie of the Year, Michael Fulmer. And at the NY Post, Joel Sherman believes Fulmer could still be shopped, as the Tigers enter a period of expected uncompetitiveness. But the real juice from that article, comes from the belief that the Cardinals could look to move Carlos Martinez, as they too enter a difficult window. Obviously, they would not trade Martinez to the Cubs, but it is interesting to know if they’d consider such a move so soon after signing Martinez to an extension. Personally, I don’t see it happening at all, they are tied for second-place in an apparently easily winnable division (well, for everyone besides the Cubs, I guess), but anything is possible.
  • But going back to Fulmer for a moment, Evan Woodbery at Michigan Live questions whether Fulmer is untouchable or on the table? There’s a good discussion about the merits, including mention of the Cubs calling the Tigers on Fulmer, but ultimately the decision comes down to whether they are willing to tear everything down …. But even in that case, I’m not 100% sure it makes sense to trade a 24-year-old stud pitcher with 5.5 years of control remaining. That’s someone you can easily build around. I mean, are you really confident you’ll get someone of at least his value in return? There’s not many of those players out there. Brett came to the same conclusion earlier today when he discussed an existing, but dubious report that had the Cubs offering Schwarber for Fulmer. That story can be found right here.
  • Peter Gammons has some notes at Gammons Daily, including the Pirates’ unwillingness to to trade starter Gerrit Cole. Instead, GM Neal Huntington wants to keep Cole, Jameson Taillon, Ivan Nova, and Tyler Glasnow together in the rotation (yeah, I get that). Also from the NL Central, Brewers’ GM David Stearns says that he gets asked whether the Brewers are buyers or sellers every single day … but doesn’t go onto indicate which it actually is. I’m guessing the Brewers will mostly stand pat, aside from possibly adding at the margins. They’re playing with house money this season, not unlike the Cubs in 2015, so they may just let it roll. They do have substantial prospect currency available, though.

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  • And one more Cubs-related note from Gammons: as of a week ago, Billy Beane said that not one team had called to open negotiations for Sonny Gray yet. Obviously things can change in a week (and then a whole lot more after that), but you’d probably have expected the Cubs to call Beane by now. Shrug. Could just be some misdirection. There is actually a lot more in Gammons’ piece (including the Orioles (Kevin Gausman) and Blue Jays (Josh Donaldson) not selling, the Yankees (Gray or Quintana) buying and much more). Be sure to check it out.
  • At FanGraphs, Matt Swartz does a lengthy, but interesting dive into the free-agent cost per WAR. What was once $4.6 million/WAR back in 2006 could be up to $11.1 million in 2018 … which, whoa. That’s a whole lot of cash. But I suppose the times are changing.

Don’t forget: the 24-hour Blogathon at the Trade Deadline can become the 34-hour or 40-HOUR Blogathon with your donations to Make-A-Wish.


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Michael Cerami

Michael Cerami is a Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @Michael_Cerami.

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