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Lukewarm Stove: Gray, Teheran, Britton, Samardzija, Back-Up Catchers, More

Chicago Cubs Rumors, MLB News and Rumors
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We have entered the phase of trade season where rumors will be flowing constantly, and trades can happen at any time. We saw it first hand when the Cubs shocked everyone by trading for Jose Quintana late last week, when the Cubs were still rumored to be in on Sonny Gray, and when the Nationals swooped in to trade for not one but two top A’s relievers yesterday.

Oh, and not to mention the drama of Sonny Gray reportedly being scratched, but actually no scratched, and all the ill-gained Hug Watching it engendered. Rumors!

‘Tis the season. And I love it.

  • Speaking of Sonny Gray and questionable rumors:

  • Both Ken Rosenthal and Jon Morosi reported the Cubs’ interest in Gray, which has otherwise long been rumored, after the Quintana acquisition. But even Rosenthal noted thereafter that it is convenient for the Cubs to be publicly interested in Gray, since the NL-Central-leading Brewers may also want him. Actually completing a trade for Gray, absent a plummeting of his stock, seems a long shot for the Cubs, who strongly prefer not to trade off of their big league roster.
  • Buster Olney takes on the Sonny Gray swirl, and lists the Cubs among the Brewers, Indians, Astros, and Yankees as teams that could be involved. Gray will be dealt this month somewhere, according to Olney.

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  • The Brewers may also want Blue Jays lefty J.A. Happ, but it’s not at all certain he’ll be dealt. Ultimately, I think you should expect the Brewers to add an arm to their rotation at some point. How deeply they’re willing to dig into their prospect currency to pull something off, though, remains to be seen.
  • The tea leaf reading in Milwaukee sounds like they are not inclined to send out a ton of prospects right now, for what it’s worth.
  • Among many, many other rumors bits, Olney lists the following teams as having communicated that they’re ready and willing to sell: Marlins, Tigers, Athletics, White Sox, Blue Jays, Padres, Mets, Braves, Phillies, Reds and Giants. Alex Avila and Tyler Flowers stand out as the best catchers who could be traded from that group of teams, but the price tags there might be significant enough that the Cubs instead opt for a defensively-minded, true back-up catcher (especially given how little that guy might play, what with Willson Contreras breaking the heck out). What about someone like A’s catcher Josh Phegley, who wouldn’t cost a lot (especially given his very down year at the plate), doesn’t come with serious salary implications, rates as an above-average framer and good defender this year?
  • And one more from Olney: the Braves are open to dealing Julio Teheran, who is on a very nice cost-controlled contract, but who has been brutally bad this year after a solid 2016 campaign. There’s certainly some risk there, but a ton of upside if the 26-year-old righty can re-establish himself as a mid-rotation arm on a contract that will pay him just $8 million next year, $11 million in 2019, and a $12 million team option in 2020.

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  • Ken Rosenthal’s latest notes are up at his Facebook page, and it includes the Orioles as a team that is now expected to sell. They have a couple catchers who could be interesting backups, including old friend Welington Castillo and famously-RBI-less-in-2016 Caleb Joseph (0 RBI in 141 plate appearances – seriously, that happened), but I’m not sure either exactly fits what the Cubs would be looking for overall.
  • Instead, the most interesting name discussed is Orioles closer, Zach Britton. Having only just returned from a forearm injury that cost him most of the first half, teams aren’t going to know right now whether Britton will continue to be the absurdly dominant guy he was over the past two years. He’s arbitration eligible after this season, but will get a raise on his $11.4 million 2017 salary – it won’t exactly be a bargain rate, especially if he isn’t overpowering here in the second half. Take it all together, and I doubt a Britton trade comes together right now. Maybe the offseason. And maybe the Cubs would be intrigued at that time.
  • If the Giants eat some salary, they’re going to be able to trade Jeff Samardzija:

  • With enough eaten salary, Samardzija could become a very interesting arm for a number of teams, given the cost certain it could provide, and luxury tax-related flexibility. But the Giants probably aren’t going to eat a ton of salary for that very same reason, unless they plan to go into a deep rebuild. That is to say, in a new CBA era where staying under the luxury tax cap has important baseball-related implications, I could see large market teams reluctant to eat money (keeping it on the books) if they aren’t going to be rebuilding for multiple years (i.e., knowing they won’t have a reason to risk pushing the luxury tax cap).

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  • The Rockies, Cardinals, and Diamondbacks are all reportedly interested in Tigers rental outfielder JD Martinez, who could transform a lineup for the second half. With the Cubs now back in the Wild Card race (the Central remains a much more likely path to the playoffs, in my opinion), it’s worth following developments around the NL West teams.
  • Buster Olney lists the Cubs as one of many possible teams for Martinez, by the way, but that’s not something I see happening absent a super hot streak by the Cubs, coupled with a key, long-term outfield injury.
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Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor of Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation.

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