Lukewarm Stove: Bullpen Moves, Rays Not Selling, Cardinals Might Be, More

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Lukewarm Stove: Bullpen Moves, Rays Not Selling, Cardinals Might Be, More

Chicago Cubs

Even if the Cubs were doing a lot better than they are, they’d likely be adding to their roster via trade before August 1. But, given how much they stand to gain by adding just a couple of wins, I fully expect them to be active this July.

Here are some of the latest rumors from around the league:

  • Earlier today at Baseball is Fun, we discussed a real and, frankly, quite funny obituary of a Nationals fan who blamed the team’s faltering bullpen for his passing. You’ll have to check out the articles for specific details, but I assure it’s all real. One thing of particular note right now, however, is that their bullpen really has been among the worst in baseball, with 12 blown saves (T-7th worst) and -0.1 fWAR (2nd worst). To that end, it shouldn’t be a surprise to learn that the Nationals are pursuing bullpen help already (Jon Heyman, Twitter). What is surprising is that Heyman suggests the team has targeted (and already expects to acquire) Francisco Rodriguez (a.k.a. K-rod). The 35-year old reliever had a 3.24 ERA last season, but has hit a wall this year (7.82 ERA, 7.36 FIP).
  • The Cubs, for what it’s worth, probably won’t search for bullpen help this summer, as the bullpen’s 2.7 WAR ranks 4th in the NL. The already realized success of Wade Davis, Koji Uehara, and Carl Edwards combined with the upside/promise of Pedro Strop, Hector Rondon, and Justin Grimm seems like enough to hold the Cubs over this season.
  • Earlier today, Joe Frisaro reported that the Tampa Bay Rays (40-38) were leading the way for Marlins shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria. And more recently, Bob Nightengale reported that the two Florida-based squads were optimistic that a deal could go down. Jerry Crasnick has more details around what a possible return for the shortstop could be, but that’s sort of besides the point. The broader, Cubs-related impact here would be simple, but disappointing: if the Rays are buying right now, then they’re a lot less likely to be sellers. Given how frequently the Cubs have been tied to the Rays pitching assets, that would shut a pretty big door (namely Chris Archer). We’ll have to keep tabs on this, but the Yankees recent implosion has opened the AL East race right up: each of the Yankees, Red Sox, and Rays have between 40 and 41 wins right now.
  • IMMEDIATE UPDATE: Just as this post published, reports have surfaced that the trade has indeed gone down: Adeiny Hechavarria from Miami to Tampa Bay in exchange for minor league outfielder Braxton Lee and right-hander Ethan Clark. The Rays could still fall off and decide to sell before the deadline, but that seems less likely now than it did just a day ago.
  • At ESPN, Jerry Crasnick writes that the Cardinals decision to become buyers or sellers may depend on whether or not the Cubs/Brewers take a more commanding lead in the NL Central over the next few weeks. If they don’t and/or the Cardinals step up, they could even look to add this summer. So, hopefully the Cubs get on a role and force the Cardinals to reconsider their position.
  • Continuing on with the NL Central, Travis Sawchik writes that the Pirates should be sellers this summer, but “soft” ones. More specifically, Sawchik believes they should listen on all fronts, but might ultimately be better off holding onto guys like Gerrit Cole and Andrew McCutchen. The former could still headline the rotation next year (or put himself into a better position to be traded) and the latter could be more valuable in the offseason after a full year “back” at his more typical offensive production. His soft-selling plan is more fleshed out than that, and could directly impact the Cubs in more ways than one, but we’ll have to see what they do come July.
  • More from the NL Central: The Milwaukee Brewers have added veteran catcher Stephen Vogt off waivers from the Oakland A’s. The Brewers current catchers, Manny Pina (96 wRC+) and Jett Bandy (72 wRC+) are not much better than Vogt (73 wRC+) offensively, but he could also help out at first base or the outfield as necessary. I still don’t expect the Brewers to be on top by the end of the season, but this is the danger with letting them lead the division for too long: they start trying to make improvements. The Brewers have a fair amount of prospect currency to make trades, by the way, so taking them down soon would be smart.
  • The New York Mets are already 11 games out of first place in the NL East, and have virtually no shot at the Wild Card as of now, so you know what that means:

  • Of course, the Cubs are not likely to add any outfielders or relievers, but, hey, Addison Reed is having a real nice season (2.82 ERA, 3.19 FIP, 38.1 IP).
  • The Philadelphia Phillies are apparently more than willing to move 24-year-old outfielder Maikel Franco this summer, though most are not sure why. He isn’t having a good year at the plate, but he put up a 129 wRC+ in his rookie 2015 season and showed some promise last year as well. The Phillies are rebuilding, but Franco is under control until 2021 and his value is arguably lower now than it ever has been. My guess is he stays put, especially because he’s not likely to help out a contender this season anyway.

Author: Michael Cerami

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