The Trade Deadline is now just eight days away, and the good news on the Yu Darvish front is that no one is expecting him back before the deadline, or even close to it, which means the Cubs can proceed on the trade front with at least some clarity. That is to say, the Cubs pretty much should act like they don’t have Darvish at all.
Although Darvish was throwing from 135 feet this weekend, he still hasn’t gotten back on the mound. Whenever that happens – hopefully soon, but Theo Epstein didn’t say when – we can maybe start projecting out the whole “next bullpen, simulated game, rehab starts” timeline. But it’s still a ways off, no matter how things go from here.
And, to that end, I’m very pleased to hear the attitude the Cubs are offering up with respect to Darvish, and the relationship between his hoped-for return and the Trade Deadline.
“You track the rehab closely. You have to try to anticipate what he might be able to give you.”
“[Darvish is] factored in,” Epstein said of the Cubs’ trade plans, per the Sun-Times, “but I think if you put yourself in a position where you’re overly reliant on something that hasn’t been dependable up to this point and then it doesn’t come through, that’s probably more on you than on the fates.”
In other words, although the Cubs will do their best to estimate what they might get from Darvish, they know they can’t count on anything as it relates to whether they need to make an addition or not.
In other other words: expect the Cubs to trade for a starting pitcher. The rest of the roster is too good this year to let yourselves be sunk by such an obvious risk area.
I still tend to think that it’ll be a rental trade, rather than a Jacob-deGrom-sized monster deal, though Epstein would never close any doors.
“We are in a more difficult position to [make a significant trade],” Epstein said, per The Score. “I don’t think it’s impossible. Every year is different, because you want to keep growing the farm system, the nature of what is available. We are pursuing a lot of different things. As to what is realistic for us, we are going to be a little more selective and opportunistic. That’s fine. Sometimes those end up being the best deals.”
Indeed, the Cubs have had tremendous success with those “opportunistic” type trades over the past few years, and I’m sure they are scouring the market for those guys who maybe haven’t gotten a great shot to start yet, or have been crowded out of a rotation into a bullpen, or have stalled out as post-hype prospects.
Ideally, you’d like to see the Cubs patient on the starting pitcher front in advance of the deadline, since the availability of some of those deals may not materialize until we get right up to the July 31 deadline. The risk you run, of course, is that your preferred rental may already be gone by then, but if the Cubs want to play it opportunistic – and don’t mind settling for a next-tier rental if they have to – that might be the way to do it.
Meanwhile, adding Jesse Chavez on an inexpensive deal looks all the more savvy. While you don’t want to rely on him to start at this point in his career, having him in the fold does offer some protection for the Cubs if they want to wait out the market a little bit and roll the dice that the right deal materializes eventually.
Then, if everything goes perfectly and the Cubs land a nice starting pitcher and Darvish returns fully effective in late August, then your *WORST* case scenario is that you’ve got a disgruntled starter or two who have to hang out in a very crowded September bullpen in the run-up to the postseason. And if things don’t go perfectly on the Darvish front, well, then you’ve added a starter and a super utility pitcher to give you some more options.