During the break, the Cubs’ front office hinted at the idea that, after acquiring Jose Quintana, the extent to which they continued to push in the trade market might depend a great deal on how they performed out of the gate in the second half.
At the time, the reaction focus was more about how that meant the Cubs would not continue buying if they were still in a funk, but the reverse necessarily was true: if the Cubs came out streaking, perhaps they get a little more aggressive in making additions to shore the team up for the second half.
Sure enough, Jed Hoyer spoke to the Sun-Times about the Cubs’ Trade Deadline strategy in the wake of their hot streak, which has shrunk their NL Central deficit from 5.5 games to just 1.5. Although the Cubs probably won’t make another blockbuster like the Quintana trade, here’s how Hoyer put it: “Now you feel differently going out and trying to add pieces to a team that’s come out here and gone [6-0] to start [since] the break. The way we’re playing, it gives us more reason to think about what else we can do to supplement the roster.”
In other words, when it comes to supplementing the roster, you can expect the Cubs to be aggressive on the trade market.
To that end, Gordon Wittenmyer mentions a name we’ve heard before in Tigers catcher Alex Avila, who has been repeatedly connected to the Cubs. This morning, I mused about how his price tag might not actually be as high as you might think, and with the Cubs having such a youthful catching group, adding a veteran to the mix at this point is a near necessity.
Speaking of which, Mark Gonzales, who also mentions Avila as a possible Cubs target, adds Rangers catcher Jonathan Lucroy, who is another impending free agent. Unlike Avila, Lucroy is currently having a horribly down year, posting terrible numbers at the plate together with down framing stats (for him). The acquisition cost for the once extremely valuable catcher might not be that high, but his veteran presence would be a welcomed addition, as well as his production (which is probably better, in a true talent sense, than he’s shown this year).
Both writers mention relievers and controllable starters as possible targets for the Cubs, too, with Gonzales specifically identifying Royals reliever Mike Minor, and Wittenmyer mentioning old friend Jeff Samardzija.
Since the Royals reclaimed Minor and reinvented him as a reliever, he’s been excellent. Samardzija has been bit by the long ball this year, as well as a couple terrible outings in Colorado, but his peripherals have been fantastic. As we’ve discussed, if the Giants ate some of his contract, Samardzija would look like a very attractive addition.
The Cubs suddenly look like they have solid starting depth, after the Quintana addition and with Kyle Hendricks returning, but if they could find the right controllable starter, it’s not too early to add another, given the longer term needs. As for the bullpen, adding a guy like Minor would certainly be a good fit, given that the only lefties right now are Brian Duensing (who has admittedly been quite good) and Mike Montgomery (who may be needed to start, and/or pitch in a longer relief role).