Lukewarm Stove: Many Relief Options, Miller Available, Starter Prices, Jimenez, More

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Lukewarm Stove: Many Relief Options, Miller Available, Starter Prices, Jimenez, More

Chicago Cubs

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With less than three weeks until the Trade Deadline, we have PLENTY of rumors and deals to discuss still ahead of us.

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  • Let’s start with the Yankee reliever rumors, focusing first on the Cubs’ top reported deadline target, Andrew Miller. On Monday, Miller told reporters that he didn’t believe he was being traded anytime soon, adding that the Yankees remain dead-set on winning the 2016 World Series and that he’s learned not to pay any attention to rumors this time of the year.
  • Of course, the Yankees (44-44) are a .500 time, 7.5 games out of first place and well behind in the Wild Card race, as well, so he’s going to hear plenty of rumors, and you can’t rule out of the possibility of a trade. In fact, according to Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post (via MLBTR), the Yankees have told Miller that he will be traded by the August 1st deadline if an offer comes along that’s too enticing to pass on (of course, maybe that just means Schwarber-or-bust, which had been the rumor). Those sort of public comments are rare, especially coming from the player himself, and are probably a bit more than Miller’s own speculation. Indeed, Miller has claimed that the Yankees GM, Brian Cashman, has kept him informed throughout the process. Even still, while the probability of a Miller trade may have ticked up quite a bit, the Cubs will not be the only diners at the table.
  • Now let’s switch gears to the other dominant, left-handed Yankee reliever likely to be traded this deadline, Aroldis Chapman. Joel Sherman (NY Post) writes that the Yankees could hold true to their promise of continuing to contend in 2016 and still trade Chapman before August 1. The Yankees bullpen would still theoretically hold two of the best relievers in baseball (Dellin Betances and Miller), but teams rarely pull off the sell/compete combination that fans yearn for yearly. Even if you don’t love the idea of Chapman on the Cubs, his availability on the market could help drive down the price of Miller. So you’re rooting interests here are definitely for a Yankee garage sale.
  • But even if neither of them are sold – or the Cubs aren’t the ones able to swing a deal – there are alternatives out there. At ESPN Insider, Buster Olney writes about five other genuinely interesting/attractive left-handed relievers likely available this July. The names are familiar: Will Smith (Brewers), Jake McGee (Rockies), Fernando Abad (Twins), Sean Doolittle (A’s), and Marc Rzepczynski (A’s). Olney specifically mentions the Cubs’ interest in a left-handed reliever, but also mentions that the Indians, Red Sox, Dodgers, and Giants might be looking, too. So the options are out there, yes, but so is the competition for their services.
  • And with market competition, comes higher prices. At WEEI, Rob Bradford writes that the price of pitching right now remains extraordinarily high. For example, the price the Braves have placed on starter Julio Teheran and reliever Arodys Vizcaino is leading many to believe that neither are being realistically shopped, at least right now. Prices change, of course, but the Braves have many years of control over both pitchers, so while the talent of either player is disputable, their overall trade value may not be. For what it’s worth, the believed prices on Vizcaino and Teheran stemmed from rumors of the Red Sox pursuing one or both pitchers, and were being asked to part with Yoan Moncada and/or Andrew Benintendi (the #5 and #21 overall prospects in baseball according to MLB Pipeline). High prices, indeed.
  • Along those lines, Peter Gammons is hearing that the price of pitching may remain sky high until at least the last week of July. According to one GM, “There are at least 12 to 14 teams currently trying to trade for pitching, and there is very little available pitching right now.” If you’re one of Atlanta, Oakland, Tampa Bay (or the like), there’s no reason to move before then. And as Brett frequently reminds us, these sort of deals and movement are often dependent on each other; or, put another way, clogged up by each other. If Team X is waiting to see if Player A will become available, they may not be in active discussions with Team Y on Player B, who Team Z is dead-set on acquiring, but for a lesser price. Until the drain is unclogged, so to speak, we may continue to see little but rumors.
  • On Twitter, Ken Rosenthal is reporting that the Rangers have interest in Padres’ All-Star starter Drew Pomeranz, and have done their background work on him already. That said, Rosenthal adds that the Rangers have checked in on just about all of the expectedly available pitching this summer. While the Rangers bit is important – they could be a heavy trade competitor for the Cubs – the availability of Pomeranz is what I’d like to linger on, for a moment. Most of the Cubs rumors have revolved around the bullpen, but Theo Epstein has suggested they’d like to make a move for a starter, as well. Especially if that starter is just 27 years old with a 2.47 ERA (3.18 FIP), a 28.0% strikeout rate, and three more years of control via arbitration. The Padres (38-51) seem like obvious sellers and Pomeranz would be a huge trade chip, but it’s unclear if they’d be willing to move someone with that much cheap control. Remember, many assumed they’d move Tyson Ross at last year’s deadline and they didn’t. [Brett: And, given his injury-plagued 2016 season, I would add to the Padres, “Oops.”]
  • Speaking of Tyson Ross and the 2015 trade deadline, the right-handed starter was a frequent Cubs trade target in the past, but has been sidelined with a shoulder injury since the day after Opening Day. Although he was scheduled to begin a rehab assignment soon, Ross suffered a setback when he injured his ankle in a hotel room exercise session earlier this week. The X-rays were negative (good news), and Padres manager Andy Green said that a bullpen session is still possible, but none of this inspires much confidence. At this point, it’s hard to imagine that Ross will be back on the mound in the majors with enough time to show off that he’s the same pitcher he was last year, making a trade very difficult to envision. Ross still has one more year of control after 2016, so the Padres may be better off holding onto him and trying to re-sell Ross in the offseason or at the next deadline.
  • And lastly, despite a lot of rumored Cubs targets, we haven’t gotten much of a sense of who is on or off limits within their own system (in terms of currency to buy Major Leaguers). It can sometime be too easy/reckless to speculate on available names, but we can work backwards. For example, David Kaplan writes on Twitter that the Cubs have been resistant on big breakout prospect Eloy Jimenez, despite efforts from multiple teams. It’s hard to call any prospect “untouchable,” – and just a few months ago Jimenez wouldn’t have qualified anyway – but after the start he has and all the promise/projectability, you might say that Jimenez is creeping closer to that territory. Anyone’s available for the right price, but the price on Jimenez might be too much for any team to entertain.

Author: Michael Cerami

Michael Cerami covers the Chicago Cubs, Bears, and Bulls at Bleacher Nation. You can find him on Twitter @Michael_Cerami