Although the Cubs may have “missed out” on Manny Machado, the loss didn’t really hurt. After all, the rumor-winds shifted long ago, and the Cubs weren’t believed to be seriously in on Machado by the time he was dealt to the Dodgers. Instead, the Cubs seem to be focused on another Oriole: Zach Britton.
With Brandon Morrow on the disabled list for the second time this season and a rotation that’s more or less been heavily reliant upon a shutdown bullpen, I believe Britton has long been a Cubs focus here at the deadline, and I expect that to continue until he’s traded.
But here’s the thing, the Cubs aren’t the only interested party. You already knew that. But now we also know that they’re not even the only interested party in the NL Central.
According to Ken Rosenthal, the Milwaukee Brewers are looking at many different ways to improve before the deadline and that includes a pursuit of the Orioles closer. And because the Brewers had previously engaged in deep conversations over Manny Machado, they know which prospects in their system the Orioles like. That might not seem like too much of an advantage, but it really can help smooth the process when you’re talking about quick negotiations among many interested teams.
Now, to be perfectly fair, the Cubs tried for Zach Britton last summer and again this winter and were obviously – at some level – in discussions with the Orioles over Manny Machado, too. So they do also have that similar familiarity (ditto Astros). But because the Brewers, like the Astros, have a much stronger farm system than the Cubs, we’ll just have to hope the Orioles like something very specific down on the Cubs’ farm.
And the broader point here is that despite a 2-8 stretch that’s dropped them 3.5 games out of first place in the NL Central, the Milwaukee Brewers are not likely to sit idly by as the deadline passes. They did that last year and it may have cost them a chance at the postseason, so I wouldn’t count on it twice in a row.
And, no, I don’t think their involvement is just to drive up the price on the Cubs – though, I’m sure that’s a part of it for them, especially given how good the Brewers pen has been this season.
In all likelihood, the Brewers actually want to put up a fight and are willing to go out and buy someone to help – especially when that someone makes their team better and keeps that guy away from the Cubs.