Lukewarm Stove: Best Pitchers on the Market, Jackson, Olt, Cuban Defectors, More

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Lukewarm Stove: Best Pitchers on the Market, Jackson, Olt, Cuban Defectors, More

Chicago Cubs

stoveClosing down the first business week of July, and it was all business for the Cubs. They traded Scott Feldman and Steve Clevenger. They traded Roni Torreyes. They traded Carlos Marmol. They DFA’d Shawn Camp. They went all SIGN ALL THE IFAs. There was a two-day stretch that rivaled anything I’ve seen at the Trade Deadline before. If it’s like that at this year’s deadline, at which I’m promising to blog for 24 to 36 hours straight – depending on how much we can fundraise for Make-A-Wish’s efforts to provide Chicago Cubs wishes to young fans – I don’t know if I’ll make it. Or I’ll be riding such a surge of adrenaline that I’ll end up going 48 hours straight just because.

On with the latest …

  • Normally I’d save this for an Obsessive Matt Garza Trade Watch update, but we’re in between those, so I’ll give it here: Buster Olney says Garza is now “far and away the best starter available.” That’s nice. Assuming Cliff Lee does not come onto the market – or any other surprise entrant – I’d have to agree with Buster, and I don’t think I’m just being a homer.
  • Somewhat relatedly, the Diamondbacks are talking about Brewers starter Yovani Gallardo, according to Jon Heyman. Top pitching prospect Tyler Skaggs’ name has popped up, but apparently there’s not yet any “traction” there. The Diamondbacks appear to prefer to have a guy who is under contract for 2014 like Gallardo, rather than a rental like Garza. That’s fine, though I’d point out that the Diamondbacks probably also want a pitcher who’s doing better than a 4.78 ERA, a 1.456 WHIP, and a career-worst 2.16 K/BB. (Garza in those numbers this year: 3.45, 1.116, and 2.89.) Skaggs, who turns 22 in a week, is a top 20 prospect in the game, and is already big-league ready. If he’s available, and there’s a teeny, tiny chance the Cubs could get him in a Garza deal, you’d be getting pretty excited.
  • Jim Bowden recently did a video on the obvious sellers, for which he focused on the Cubs, the White Sox, and the Brewers. It’s mostly standard fare, but I thought one bit was interesting. In discussing the Cubs’ tradable pieces, he mentioned, with some discussion, Edwin Jackson as a possibility. While the Cubs are willing to deal just about anything, and they certainly would be willing – from a team-construction standpoint – to deal Jackson. But we’re talking about a guy who’s got an ERA near six right now (even if the peripherals are solid), and is just one half season into a four year deal. Not only do I not think the Cubs could get a whole lot of value for Jackson at this time, I also do not think the Cubs really want to deal a guy they just signed to a long-term deal. It sends a bad message to future free agents, especially this upcoming offseason. Yes, you always want to remain flexible, and it’s not wise to guarantee that you’ll never trade a player. But upper end free agents have lots of options, and when the money’s close, things like “this team trades guys at the drop of a hat even after committing four years to them” will stick out in their memory. Don’t believe me? Just wait to see how long it takes the Marlins to sign a big-time free agent without massively overpaying.
  • Ken Rosenthal goes through the best available bullpen pieces this trading season, and Kevin Gregg obviously features prominently (it doesn’t appear to be a strict ranking, but it’s fair to say he slots in behind Jonathan Papelbon at this point, but there are fundamental contractual differences between the two that probably put them in entirely different markets).
  • In the latest MLBTR chat, however, Steve Adams did not list Gregg as one of the top relievers on the market (he did mention James Russell, though Russell’s been struggling a little bit lately). Steve also notes how down Mike Olt’s stock is at this point (not even enough to net Alex Rios from the White Sox). The Cubs have obviously liked the Rangers’ third base prospect for a long time now, and, if they get the opportunity to buy low – in whatever form the deal might take – I wonder if they’ll jump at it. (Steve notes that Olt, alone, would probably not be enough to get Matt Garza, and I agree.) Steve is also suspicious of the Padres’ reported interest in Matt Garza, given their long-term, development-oriented approach (to which I’d respond that teams like the Padres develop a broad-based system so that they can stock their team with homegrown talent *AND* acquire players using those prospects when necessary).
  • Bruce Levine also chatted, and … (1) the Cubs can do better than draft pick compensation in a Matt Garza trade (and, thus, he’ll be traded); (2) Bruce also mentions Mike Olt as a possible piece in a deal with the Rangers; and (3) Bruce doesn’t see the Cubs going after any notable free agents after this season.
  • Apropos of nothing, Jesse Sanchez reminded folks on Twitter that, in addition to all of the IFA spending the Cubs are doing this week on guys subject to the bonus pool restrictions, they sent a cadre of folks to watch Cuban free agent Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez in Mexico. We already knew this, but I find it very interesting that Sanchez felt it worth reminding folks at this time. Sanchez knows his stuff, so if that’s a nudge, I’m listening. Gonzalez, a 26-year-old righty who is not subject to spending restrictions, is still awaiting his unblocking license so that he can sign. It could come at any point now, and the Dodgers remain the favorite here.
  • Speaking of Sanchez and Gonzalez, Sanchez reports that a fellow Cuban defector – 26-year-old righty Odrisamer Despaigne – will work out for teams in Spain on Tuesday, and could be a free agent in three to six weeks. I’ll confess ignorance on Despaigne’s relative value, but Jeff Passan says it’s not quite up there with Gonzalez.

Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.