Does anybody else feel like they got robbed by the Brad Hand trade?
Not because the Cubs didn’t get him, mind you. But because of the timing. Yesterday, when the Orioles/Dodgers trade for Manny Machado went down, I was excited to move past it and get into the next obsessive rumor and then BAM just like that Brad Hand goes from San Diego to Cleveland. No run-up, no conflicting reports, no back-and-forth, just a deal. In a weird way, it felt like many of the Cubs trades we’ve experienced in recent years, where they sorta just come out of nowhere.
Certain front offices are better than others at keeping secrets, but let’s hope we have a lot more rumors to enjoy before the deadline passes on July 31st. After all, Brett’s already locked in for 34 hours of blogging.
- Speaking of that Brad Hand deal, Brett has already pointed out that the Cubs were kinda-sorta theoretically interested in Hand, but they weren’t the only team to miss the boat:
The Phillies are one of many teams interested in Brad Hand. The price has remained very high, though. “Would be an awesome addition to any pen,” one scout said. https://t.co/WqmnMCbDBx
— Dennis Lin (@dennistlin) July 18, 2018
- The Phillies have now missed out on Manny Machado and Brad Hand already this trade season, which could force them to get a little more aggressive elsewhere. And while I think Machado may be one of those guys that any team is into simply because he’s a “Machado,” type, other infielders could eventually pique their interest, and that could be a good thing for the Cubs, who are hoping the Brewers don’t get to skate into their next target, like Brian Dozier, without any competition. At the same time, the Phillies’ interest in a reliever is probably even more likely to materialize into a trade (all of the costs, literal (prospects/cash) and figurative (availability/finding space), associated with acquiring a reliever are usually much smaller than a position player), and that could eventually be a roadblock for the Cubs, who are looking to acquire a reliever, themselves.
- Speaking of that Brewers/Dozier rumor, hopefully you didn’t miss it last night. Now that the Brewers have missed on Machado, Dozier is apparently coming into focus. And although he’s nowhere near the player Machado is anymore, he’ll likely cost a lot less and still has the potential to be a huge upgrade for the Brewers. So let’s hope nothing happens there, either. Or that he costs a surprising amount.
- On a more Cubs-centric level, General Manager Jed Hoyer jumped on ESPN 1000 earlier today and answered questions on the deadline. Although Hoyer concedes that the Cubs will “obviously” be involved in conversations on the big name players this deadline, whomever they may be, there’s no guarantee that something gets done. HOWEVA, he changed his tone when it came to adding complimentary pieces. “I do feel like adding depth is something we are going to do,” Hoyer said. “We’re going to be in on every discussion, but at the same time, I do believe we have the pieces internally to be a heck of a team.” That may not excite you at first, but remember back in 2016, Aroldis Chapman was the “big name” and Mike Montgomery was the “depth” trade. Now, Chapman may have had more to do with the Cubs reaching and winning the World Series than Montgomery, but it’s hard to look back and not love the Montgomery trade and consider it much bigger in retrospect than we did at the time. And that’s precisely what the Cubs were hoping it could be.
- At 670 The Score, Bruce Levine reaffirms the Cubs’ interest in reliever Zach Britton – at this point, I think it’s fair to say he’s one of their primary targets this July – but adds that the Cubs could also want to go after starter Dylan Bundy, who’s under team control through 2021.
- You might remember Bundy as a former first-round pick (4th overall) back in 2011, when he was selected five spots ahead of Javier Baez, and a former top prospect (former top-10 type overall), who’s never quite put together that breakout season just yet. Bundy, however, did make 28 starts last season (4.24 ERA, 2.7 WAR) and is on pace for a full slate this year, despite slightly worse results (4.35 ERA) and peripherals (4.55 FIP). With that said, he’s striking out 25.7% of the batters he’s facing this year and does not give up free passes (7.7% walk rate). His ground ball rate is at the bottom of the barrel – and that’s certainly hurt him – but he doesn’t really allow too much hard contact, so that’s not the worst problem in the world. Moreover, he’s been pitching in front of a pretty crummy defense. Frankly, given his age (still just 25), pedigree (former top 5 pick, top-10 prospect), cost-control, and current health, you’d love to have him in the fold both this season and in the future. We’ll see if this turns into anything more than a one-off rumor, because color me interested.
- Taking a step back, I remained pleased to see the Cubs reported interests in Machado, Britton, and Bundy, because that means they’re still talking to the Orioles rather frequently and that means that they could potentially land some of that $5.5M in IFA bonus money they have sitting there going to waste. If the Cubs can pry away a significant chunk of that in a deal, they might just be able to land a later-arriving top prospect like Victor Victor Mesa, who’s as big of a prospect out of Cuba as anyone in the last few years. Given the state of the farm system – particularly the dearth of hitters – that would be huge.
- And finally, the Los Angeles Angels, currently 14.0 games out of first place and just 1.0 game over .500, have begun fielding interest in some of their players, but are not particularly interested in sacrificing next season (obviously understandable with Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani hanging around):
#Angels have no interest in trading Heaney or Skaggs, per source – team needs them to compete in ‘19. As I said Saturday, LAA drawing interest in controllable relievers – Parker, Alvarez, Bedrosian, Anderson. Open on any of them, but will want good returns to give up control.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) July 16, 2018
- Without digging too deeply, it’s easy to see some talent in any of Jose Alvarez (2.66 ERA, 3.02 FIP), Justin Anderson (3.38 ERA, 3.75 FIP; 29.6K%), or (former Cub) Blake Parker (3.05 ERA, 3.60 FIP), so we’ll if the Cubs wind up attached to any of them in rumors, but for now, just know that the market is full with some under-the-radar type relievers. It’s not Britton or bust, especially when you start looking around at how many clear sellers there could be.