Already today, we were treated(?) to a Cub-specific rumor regarding the team’s willingness/desire to trade for a veteran outfielder before the July 31st deadline. I popped that question mark in there, because although we all love rumors, this one lacked a certain sense of excitement … or even logic. As Brett explained, and we all generally know, there’s value to be had in adding veteran players to a young team, but the amount of time and room that player would have to really make an impact is marginal at best.
It just seems like something that would make sense after another trade, but not necessarily as the primary move.
- Indeed, here’s a line from that article at The Athletic that stuck out to me: “Thus, the only way for the Cubs to squeeze in a Jones or Granderson would be to trade one of their young outfielders — Albert Almora Jr, Kyle Schwarber or Ian Happ. Such a move would make sense only if it brought the Cubs a top starting pitcher with multiple years of club control.” Given the Cubs full rotation when healthy, the only way they’re making a move for a big-time starting pitcher is if that pitcher is on the top shelf, next to the really good stuff you usually can’t afford. In other words, the sort of pitcher that would undoubtedly slide into the top of the rotation and move everyone else down.
- Usually, those guys are never moved, but it just so happens that two Mets starters – Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard – fit that mold and are theoretically available this July. The price is expected to be high, but according to Ken Rosenthal “if the Mets receive an offer they deem satisfactory, they will jump.” I still believe it’s unlikely the Cubs are adding a veteran outfielder, but if they did it would probably only be after they traded away one of their young outfielders in a big deal for guys like deGrom or Syndergaard, not the other way around. And given how unlikely that sort of pitching deal is for the Cubs (Rosenthal still thinks one of them gets moved, just not necessarily to the Cubs), I’m just not buying any of it right now. Even if the Cubs were trying to make this kind of crazy series of moves happen, they’d still have to make the best offer, which would mean some serious impact to the big league positional side of the ledger (and the very best of whatever is left in the farm system) … and the Mets could still probably find more attractive offers out there.
- You’d also have to sort out the Cubs’ rotation picture – not that you wouldn’t happily do so to accommodate one of those two, but it’s a complicating factor with plenty of uncertainty baked in.
- I’m also not sure I’m buying all of this:
Teams have been calling about Derek Dietrich, a good hitter with some versatility. Brewers, Cubs could have interest.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) July 10, 2018
- Heyman isn’t wrong that Derek Dietrich is a good hitter (the 28-year-old has a 121 wRC+ this season), but is a poor defender, is older than Kyle Schwarber, Ian Happ, Albert Almora, and Jason Heyward, comes with fewer years of control, and won’t be super cheap thanks to four trips through arbitration, so … I’m just not sure why the Cubs would bother when they already have guys like Ben Zobrist and Ian Happ sitting on the bench on a daily basis. It just doesn’t square.
- Unless it does. You know who could use a good, young(ish), cost-controlled(ish) utility man with 2.5 years of control? The Brewers. The answer is right there in Heyman’s tweet. Although Lorenzo Cain and Christian Yelich have both been excellent this season, they’ve both missed time on the disabled list while Ryan Braun (84 wRC+, 0.2) and Domingo Santana (78 wRC+, 0.1 WAR) have disappointed. So perhaps the Cubs caught wind of the Brewers interest and are simply feigning interest to drive up the price on a rival. It wouldn’t be the first time. Or, relatedly, maybe the Marlins are just happy to have the Cubs’ name out there for that same reason.
- Uh … Theo, is that you?
"To suggest the Rays would trade Blake Snell is fictional garbage," says an NL exec. "We callwd. No chance. And we could have put together a big package.
— Peter Gammons (@pgammo) July 10, 2018
- Snell, 25, is in his third Major League season and is currently rocking a 2.09 ERA, 3.36 FIP, and 28.8% strikeout rate over 19 starts. Did I mention that he’s just 25? Or that he is not even arbitration eligible until 2020 and is not a free agent until 2023? He’s not going anywhere right now.
- Okay, are you ready for Manny Machado stuff? You might as well be, because here comes a bunch. Let’s start with the easy stuff:
“I’m a shortstop. I play shortstop.” – Manny Machado, when asked if he’d move back to third base if traded to contender.
— Marc Carig (@MarcCarig) July 10, 2018
- Setting aside this trade deadline and the implications of trading for a player who won’t move off his position, Machado’s very public preference to play shortstop is turning into a crucial point of fact for his impending free agency. I still think the Cubs should pursue Machado this winter and am generally resigned to the fact that a trade – somewhere on the roster – is going to be necessary to make it happen, but if Machado isn’t open to also playing third (which could move Kris Bryant to the outfield), he’s limiting his market a bit.
- If that’s not clear enough: If Machado isn’t willing to move around, Addison Russell is basically the only player who can/will be traded. If Machado were willing to move back to third if necessary, Bryant could move to the outfield and any of Kyle Schwarber, Ian Happ, Albert Almora, or Jason Heyward can be moved. If one team likes one of those guys a lot more than another for whatever reason, an opportunity could be taken advantage of. But it falls apart if Machado won’t move. Also, Machado might not be that great of a defensive shortstop, and Addison Russell is a Gold Glove candidate.
- [Brett: Agreed that this stance by Machado is a bummer. I’m not saying you WANT to see those guys trade or see Kris Bryant moved to the outfield. I’m just saying you’d like to have OPTIONS. Even if Machado pays lip service to being willing to play wherever in free agency, this is now forever in the back of your mind. What happens if we sign Machado and then ask him to play third? Will he be happy to do it? Or will he be pissed?]
- In other Machado news, Ken Rosenthal reports that the Yankees have emerged as serious Machado suitors. And although the Dodgers and Brewers remain the more likely landing spots, the Yankees farm system can probably trump any offer either team puts together. The Orioles have shown an extreme reluctance to deal with the Yankees (understandable when you’re in the same division), but because Machado is a rental, they might be more willing to make it happen.
- With all of that said, Rosenthal adds that no deal is close right now and that the Orioles prefer to send Machado to the NL. And for all that shortstop-talk, Rosenthal actually believes Machado would be willing to play third base for the Yankees. Shrug. Who knows.
- The Yankees aren’t stopping there, though. On top of Machado, the Yankees have also expressed interest in relievers Zach Britton and Brad Brach, as well as starter Kevin Gausman. The Cubs have been connected to Britton for about a year now and I believe they’ve been tangentially connected to the other two pitchers in rumors here or there. Britton, after a series of injuries, isn’t performing anywhere near to the levels of 2014-2017, but he’s thrown just 11.2 innings this season and is still just 30. I’d give him a shot given the past dominance.
- And to lend a little credence to all this Yankees/Orioles stuff:
— Robert Murray (@RobertMurrayFRS) July 10, 2018
- Life exists beyond the East Coast, too. And according to Jeff Passan, the Dodgers have stepped up their pursuit of a position player beyond that of Manny Machado. Now, Scooter Gennett (133 wRC+), Brian Dozier (94 wRC+), and Asdrubal Cabrera (124 wRC+) have all entered their field of view. And while none of those players carry the weight of Machado, Gennett would certainly be a prize, and Cabrera is no slouch himself. Dozier has had much more success before this season.
- The Dodgers aren’t limiting themselves to position players though. Like every contending team, they’ll add a reliever or two before things are said and done, and Brad Ziegler has emerged as one, but not the only option:
dodgers have other relievers higher on list than ziegler. also looking at infield (obvs.)
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) July 10, 2018
- Ziegler hasn’t really been good since 2016, but the Dodgers bullpen has been among the bottom ten in baseball this season. They’ll need some reinforcements if they hope to last deep into October.
Brett Taylor contributed to this post.