Earlier today, Brett discussed the ever-present Cubs-Alex Avilia/Justin Verlander rumors, and you should really check that one out.
We can never be certain that anything will actually happen, but there sure has been a whole lot of smoke, hasn’t there? Well, it’s not done yet.
- According to the Detroit Free Press, the Cubs and Dodgers had scouts in attendance for Verlander’s latest (and solid) start against the Royals: 7.0 IP, 6H, 2ER, 1BB, 8Ks. Although the Astros have also shown interest, the prevailing wisdom is that it’ll take the deep pockets of a big-market team to pull something off for Verlander. And even in that case, the Cubs may have less interest after acquiring Jose Quintana.
- But, and again, the smoke remains, as Bret mentioned earlier, and this:
— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) July 21, 2017
- Nightengale followed that up with another tweet that suggested the Cubs “could pay most, if not all, of Verlander’s contract,” but wouldn’t, then, be willing to pay a steep prospect price as well. The Tigers will have to decide if they want a quality return or if they want to dump some salary. Even though they’re rebuilding, the next two free agent classes are absolutely LOADED. Some extra payroll wouldn’t be a bad thing (same could be said for the Cubs, though).
- Outside of Verlander, Sonny Gray is the starter most-frequently connected to the Chicago Cubs (and Yankees, Dodgers, Astros, Brewers, etc.), though there may be a new entrant into the sweepstakes: the Seattle Mariners. According to Mark Feinsand of MLB.com, the Mariners might be “preparing to make a run for the A’s right-hander.”
- The Cubs interest in Gray is hard to pinpoint. We know they could use his arm both this and next season, but also know that they 1) already made a big trade for a starter, 2) are looking forward to the upcoming free agent class, 3) could be feigning interest to drive up the price, and 4) might not have the pieces to pull it off. For what it’s worth, Nick Cafardo suggests that their interest is still real and active, but it’s truly too hard to know for sure at this point.
- Jon Heyman, citing the amount of money owed, still believes that if the Brewers are going to make a move for a starter, it’ll be for Gray and not Verlander. But perhaps Justin Verlander isn’t even the primary Tigers Justin the Brewers want. According to Nightengale, the Brewers may really want solid reliever Justin Wilson. Wilson’s got a tiny 2.82 ERA this season, is just 29 years old, has 1.5 years of control, and comes very cheap (about $1 million more owed this season, arbitration next year).
- And that rumor is getting backed up. Jerry Crasnick of ESPN reports that the Brewers are indeed looking at both starting and relief options, before specifically mentioning Wilson. However, it appears that the Tigers are trying to throw Ian Kinsler (and his $10M club option in 2018 (w/ a $5M buyout)) into the deal. That would lessen the prospect return, but it’s not clear if this is the route the Brewers want to go.
- There are still other interesting starters out there, though, and one such name is Yu Darvish. But will the Rangers concede the rest of the season at this point?
#Rangers 2.5 out in WC race. 10-game homestead vs. MIA, BAL, SEA. As I said in Full Count video, trading Darvish would mean conceding…
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) July 24, 2017
- Ken Rosenthal isn’t so sure, but Jon Morosi has heard that the Dodgers are late entry into the Darvish sweepstakes (and that was BEFORE they lost Clayton Kershaw for 4-6 weeks). Perhaps now, with their sights still firmly set on the postseason and a lack of certainty in their rotation, the Dodgers will up their return and force the Rangers’ hand. At a minimum, it seems the Rangers are seriously considering this, because MLB Trade Rumors notes that the Rangers have been scouting various Dodger minor leaguers.
- Brett sliding in an immediate UPDATE on the Rangers and Darvish:
— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) July 24, 2017
- Adding marks to the win column may not have been the only way the Cubs helped themselves over the weekend. The series loss, it seems, may have accelerated the Cardinals’ desire to sell at the deadline and begin looking ahead to next season. Among the pieces that could get moved is starter Lance Lynn. As of now, he’ll start for the Cardinals tomorrow, but Derrick Goold suggests that there have been “ongoing discussions with other teams about a trade.” This’ll be a situation worth monitoring.
- And finally, we’ll end with one more NL Central note:
#Pirates leaning against trading McCutchen, but source tells me they've given him no indication whether they'll pick up club option for 2018
— Rob Biertempfel (@BiertempfelTrib) July 24, 2017
- As Len and JD have predicted on countless occasions over the past few weeks, the Pirates have been surging in the standings and are now in third place, just 3.0 games out of first, in the NL Central. They still have an uphill battle, but selling Andrew McCutchen right now might be a tough pill to swallow – especially because he’s not a true rental.
- If they decided to hang on to McCutchen, though, the Pirates would almost certainly have to pick up that club option so that they can once again shop him next offseason. The problem with that, of course, is that McCutchen has finally rebuilt some serious trade value. Do you risk another fall off for a shot at the playoffs this year?