Lukewarm Stove: Cubs Scouting Starters? Also, Bits on Davis, Hill, Cashner, Sale, More

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Lukewarm Stove: Cubs Scouting Starters? Also, Bits on Davis, Hill, Cashner, Sale, More

Chicago Cubs

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Even though the Cubs now have Aroldis Chapman in the fold, I get the feeling that they’re not quite done.

I’m not sure if they’ll go for depth pieces, for impact starters, a left-handed bat, or anything in between, but I’m fairly convinced there’s something else up their sleeve, waiting to surprise us before August 1.

To that end, if you want to get even more non-stop trade/rumor/stove coverage at the deadline, make sure to keep donating to the BN Blogathon, which supports the Make-A-Wish Foundation. It costs $6,000 for any one wish, and as of right now, we’ve raised just over $15,400. Let’s shoot to get to $18,000 before Sunday so that we can sponsor three full wishes! That’s $2,600 in four days – difficult, but doable. If everyone reading this article donated a single dollar, we’d get there before the end of the day, today. And that’s #math.

Also be sure to check in on what Brett’s offering to do for this year’s now-39-hour affair.

Okay, rumor time.

  • According to Jim Salisbury (CSN) on Twitter, the Chicago Cubs were among several teams scouting Philadelphia Phillies’ starter Jeremy Hellickson in his most recent start against the Marlins. Scouts from the Rangers, Giants, Blue Jays and Orioles were reportedly in attendance, as well. In his last two starts – both against Miami, for what that’s worth – Hellickson has been impressive: 14.0 IP, 1 ER, 6H, 1BB, 9Ks. For the season, however, he’s a bit more average: 3.65 ERA, 4.16 FIP, 21.0% strikeout rate, 5.5% walk rate. If the Cubs are indeed scouting Hellickson, I imagine it would be either for depth, or purely as a “just in case,” kind of thing (if a member of the rotation gets hurt before the deadline, the Cubs will want to be in a position to make a move if they had to). Or, as always, they might just be doing normal advance scouting.
  • Any team that wants Hellickson, though, is going to have to pay a steep price for the rental righty:

  • A bit presumptuous of the Phillies to assume Hellickson, who was pretty terrible for three straight seasons before this one, wouldn’t accept a qualifying offer, eh?
  • At the New York Post, Joel Sherman writes about how the Aroldis Chapman deal came together from the Cubs perspective, and it’s a fairly interesting read. As you undoubtedly know, the Cubs came into the process hoping to land Andrew Miller, but were met with an unreasonable price. He is equally as dominant as Chapman and under control for more than just this season; so it sounds like the Yankees were legitimately holding out for Kyle Schwarber, and Kyle Schwarber alone. The Cubs moved on. But before moving onto Aroldis Chapman, Sherman says, the Cubs checked in on Royals closer, Wade Davis. Davis has a $10 million option for 2017, so he does come with 1.5 years of control, but the asking price was reportedly higher than it was for Miller. Now, Davis has been dominating as a reliever for the past three years now, but his peripherals in 2016 are completely out of whack. Given that he comes with less control than Miller, Davis shouldn’t cost more than Miller. Given all of the facts, the Cubs probably made the right baseball decision, picking up Chapman for the pieces they surrendered, rather than Schwarber (or more) for Miller or Davis.
  • In addition, Sherman suggests the Cubs may have helped the Yankees (although I’d argue the Cubs helped themselves) by paying such a high price for rental version of a dominant reliever. Now, if the Nationals or Giants look to Miller or Davis, they’ll have to deliver a king’s ransom to the Yankees or the Royals. As an added aside, the Yankees are reportedly looking for Major-League-ready talent in exchange for Miller. Schwarber was the guy for the Cubs, and Sherman suggests Lucas Giolito might be that guy for the Nationals – that would be a HUGE price to pay. In fact, it’s so high, that I honestly don’t believe the Nats will (or should) do it.
  • With the trade deadline set to pass this coming Monday, August 1, the Oakland Athletics are really pushing things to the wire with regards to Rich Hill. Hill, 36, had previously been the best rental starter available on the trade market, but has been out for a few weeks with a blister issue on his left hand. If he is unable to make a start before the deadline, I doubt any team would be willing to part with any really significant prospects. That said, there’s a chance he could make that final “See, I’m okay” start this Sunday, July 31. According to John Hickey on Twitter, Hill threw 50 bullpen pitches with a bandage and another 20 more without one yesterday, putting him on track to make a start the day before the deadline. [Brett: My guess is that the Cubs are out on Hill, despite the previous rumors, after adding two lefties to bullpen (not because Hill would necessarily have gone to the pen, but because he’d push someone else there, and/or would be available there … which now seems like less of a need, especially given the expectedly high price tag, if he’s healthy.)]
  • Andrew Cashner has been a heavily-rumored trade candidate over the past few days/weeks, with each start seemingly expected to be his last for San Diego. But with each passing day, his stock value may be rising. Despite a 4.76 ERA for the season, Cashner has been pitching quite well here in July. In his three starts since the All-Star break, for example, Cashner has a 2.55 ERA (2.86 FIP), to go along with 23 strikeouts and just 3 walks in 17.2 innings pitched. Which is probably why Padres GM A.J. Preller has said “there’s definitely interest,” when discussing the likelihood of a Cashner deal. In fact, I would say Cashner is probably one of the most likely traded pieces over the next few days, if it weren’t for some head scratching deadline decisions in the past for the Padres.
  • Stepping away from pitchers for a moment, Jerry Crasnick is hearing that the Reds have dialed up the pace on Jay Bruce trade discussions. Indicating that the Reds have been talking to at least 4 clubs, Crasnick also reports that they are seeking a “top prospect,” in return. To that, I say, oh … I don’t know. Bruce may be hitting fairly well this year (.271/.324/.567 with 24 HRs), but his defense has been terrible and he’s a free agent at the end of the season. I suppose a lefty bat with power is always going to have value, and our definitions of top prospect may vary, but I don’t see Bruce netting something similar to, say, Aroldis Chapman.
  • But enough about position players. Let’s get back to pitchers with an increasingly sexy possibility: The White Sox sending Chris Sale to the Dodgers for Julio Urias. Indeed, at the New York Post, Joel Sherman writes that the Dodgers may be more aggressive in landing one of Chris Sale or Jose Quintana this year than they were for Cole Hamels last season. Sherman goes as far as to claim that the Dodgers would even be willing to include prized prospect Julio Urias as part of a package. Urias, you’ll recall, is the 19-year-old starting pitcher who made his Major League debut earlier this season. With Kershaw out for an indefinite amount of time, the Dodgers other strengths, and their obvious prospect currency, this move could make some sense. It’s just, Sale, man; he’s going to cost so much.
  • The Rays may hold onto all of their theoretically available starters – Chris Archer, Matt Moore, Jake Odorizzi, and Drew Smyly – through the deadline, according to Jerry Crasnick at ESPN. If they did decide to move one or more of them, the impact on the starting pitching market could be deep, though. Which means if you’re hoping the Cubs pick up a depth or an impact type starter before the deadline, you’ll be rooting for the Rays to change their stance very shortly.
  • Lastly, let’s close with a few actual trades that have been agreed upon earlier this week: The Toronto Blue Jays have acquired Melvin Upton (and a boatload of cash) from the Padres, in exchange for righty Hansel Rodriguez, and have swapped out Drew Storen for Joaquin Benoit, after DFA-ing Storen over the weekend. The buyers and the sellers are becoming increasingly identifiable, and there are just a few days left! It’s like Christmas!

Brett Taylor contributed to this post.

Author: Michael Cerami

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