We are tantalizingly close to July, which means the trade rumors are about to start popping. Heck, two trades already popped today!
Even still, I’ll remind you that the relatively shocking July 4th trade of Addison Russell, Billy McKinney and Dan Straily for Jason Hammel and Jeff Samardzija back in 2014 was at least in part shocking due to how early the move was made.
That said, maybe with moves already happening today, things will start cooking …
Although the Cubs will be looking for bullpen help over the next month or so not all of it (or any of it) necessarily has to come from outside of the organization. According to Jed Hoyer, they’re going to exhaust their internal resources (like Joel Peralta, for one recently-added example) while they still can to see what areas of concern still need addressing. One of the most obvious areas, according to Jesse Rogers, is a lefty specialist (although I’d argue that just a regular, full-inning reliever who throws from the left side is probably a better fit). In a piece at ESPN, he ran through a number of potential Cubs targets, including Sean Doolittle (whom we’ve just spoken about), Fernando Abad, Tony Watson and Boone Logan. Each comes with a varying degree of #want and cost, but each would look good in the bullpen. There aren’t specific rumors on any of them right now – more like reasonable speculation – but these are certainly the types of relievers the Cubs could target over the next month.
If you noticed, Rogers mentions Tony Watson (currently a Pittsburgh Pirate) as a potential trade target for the Cubs, despite the divisional connection between the two teams. As we know, this front office isn’t above making moves within the division, although it would be a lie to say that things aren’t a little bit trickier down that route. That said, let’s move away from Watson and talk about a different Pirate reliever who may be made available: closer Mark Melancon. At the Trib Live, Rob Rossi openly wonders if the Pirates (38-41, 14 games behind the Cubs), should consider moving their closer in his final year of control. Given their unexpected uncompetitiveness, Melancon’s impending free agency and the Pirates tendency to extract value when they can, Rossi might be onto something. I’m still not sure the Pirates would be too anxious to deal him to the Cubs, though.
And while were at it, there’s another of Rogers’ mentions we need to re-discuss: Sean Doolittle. As I said, we recently discussed Doolitle here, but since then it’s been revealed that he’s been dealing with a sore left shoulder. In fact, Doolittle has been sidelined for four consecutive days by “minor left shoulder soreness.” Although that sort of injury would make you nervous about anyone, that goes double for Doolittle, who is returning from a shoulder issue that kept him out for the majority of 2015. To be fair, Doolittle did throw 33 pitches in his last outing, to which he attributes the soreness, and claims he’ll be back at it soon, telling MLB.com: “I’m good, I just had a really heavy work week last week and needed some time off.” Apparently, this shoulder issue is different than what’s experienced in the past, so he remains optimistic going forward, but it’s at least a little bit troubling if he’s the main guy you’re targeting. UPDATE/CRUD:
Yulieski Gurriel’s market is heating up, as the 32-year-old third baseman from Cuba continues to workout for different clubs. So far, workouts with the Dodgers, Mets and Astros have been confirmed and rumors of teh Yankees and Giants abound. The most obvious fit, among the teams listed above, is the team the Cubs will face this weekend: The New York Mets. According to Ken Rosenthal, Gurriel makes sense for the Mets this year at third base (in David Wright’s absence) and next year at second base (when Neil Walker departs via free agency). The Cubs remain expectedly uninvolved in this sweepstakes directly, but could find themselves unhappily facing Gurriel if he goes to the Giants or the Mets.
In that same piece, Rosenthal notes that it’s possible the Diamondbacks could move bullpen-mates Brad Ziegler and Daniel Hudson in the same trade. The Diamondbacks, currently 9 games under .500, have yet to declare themselves sellers, though.
The Nationals padded their depth, by signing Mat Latos to a Minor League deal, pending a physical. Latos will report to Minor League Camp and presumably work his way back up to the upper Minors where he’ll serve the Nationals in an emergency capacity. With the White Sox, earlier this season, Latos had a 4.62 ERA (5.55 FIP) with just a 12.1% strikeout rate over 60.1 IP.
On Wednesday, Rays starter Matt Moore threw a 7.0 innings of 3-hit shutout ball against the Boston Red Sox, igniting hope that his season may actually be on the way up (yeah, well, when there’s only one way to go …). In fact, at the Tampa Bay Times, Marc Topkin writes that the start might be enough to reignite some trade interest across the league, as the last place Rays (33-44) look to move pieces over the next month or so. According to Topkin, the Rangers have some interest in the lefty, and three to four others are “expected to join the pursuit,” though he doesn’t name names. It’s unclear if the Cubs would have interest, but they could be enticed by the 1.5 years of control remaining on Moore’s contract and his relative youth (27). In 2016, Moore has a 4.67 ERA (4.45 FIP), but was an All-Star not a few years ago, and one of the best up-and-coming arms in the game. We’ll keep an eye on this, but he’s not yet target numero uno.
At Today’s Knuckle Ball, Jon Heyman is reporting that the Braves are “99.9 percent” not going to trade Julio Teheran … which, okay. Teheran is still young (25) and getting the best results of his career (2.46 ERA), but will cost about $40 million over the next four years and has much worse peripheral statistics under the surface (3.71 FIP, 4.03 xFIP). He’s a perfectly good pitcher with some nice upside and cost control, but as an untouchable asset for this particular iteration of the Braves? Come on. With such a barren starting pitching trade market, the Braves would be foolish not to at least consider cashing in on that type of value. That said, we watched the San Diego Padres largely stand pat as the July 31st trade deadline came and went last year, so maybe the Braves will follow suit. Or, you know, they can just ask the Padres (33-46) if they wished they had traded Tyson Ross (5.1 IP in 2016) when they had the chance.
Lastly, just as I was finishing up, the Fernando Rodney and Bud Norris trades went down. So check out the details on those deals here.
Brett Taylor contributed to this post.