Lukewarm Stove: Reliever Targets, Britton Drawing Interest, Gray Deal Inevitable, More

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Lukewarm Stove: Reliever Targets, Britton Drawing Interest, Gray Deal Inevitable, More

Chicago Cubs

What a great time to be a Cubs fan, right?

Think about it. The Cubs have finally added that big-time, cost-controlled starter, have ridden a six-game winning streak right near the top of the division, are in the middle of every trade rumor (including Yu Darvish this morning), and are starting a ten-game stretch of baseball against the freakin’ Cardinals, White Sox, and first-place Milwaukee Brewers.

Oh, and they’re defending World Series Champions.

It doesn’t get much better than that. Let’s talk about some rumors …

  • According to Mike Puma of the New York Post, the Chicago Cubs, along with the Indians and Royals, were scouting the Mets recently, with their eyes potentially on either Lucas Duda (not the Cubs) or Addison Reed (ooh, possibly the Cubs). Reed has been fantastic in the bullpen this year, posting a 2.35 ERA with a 2.83 FIP across 46.0 innings to back it up. His 25.5% strikeout rate is moderately impressive on its own, but is downright scary when you see that it’s paired with just a 2.7% walk rate. Reed will be a free agent at the end of the season and is scheduled to make a bit less than 3 million the rest of the way. He’s not a lefty, but you don’t think twice about putting him in your pen.
  • Of course, that doesn’t just go for the Cubs – that goes for every single buying team in baseball. Indeed, Marc Carig writes that Reed has become the Mets’ most valuable trade chip, and half a dozen teams have already inquired about the reliever (including, reportedly, the Brewers). Although he is widely expected to get moved before the deadline, there’s no deal imminent.
  • Jon Heyman does his typically interesting team dump over at FanRag. Among the first bits, he suggests that while the D-Backs are interested in upgrading their rotation, they’ll likely target someone like Marco Estrada, given that their farm system isn’t capable of grabbing someone like Sonny Gray.
  • As for the Cubs, Heyman suggests that they could “surprise” everyone on the trade market once again, but there’s no evidence that surprise will be for Sonny Gray. Who, then? Well, my best guess is that they still get a backup catcher, and maybe they find a way to make that name Alex Avila. And/or they add a reliever, as expected, but he’s from a higher tier than we otherwise would’ve guessed.
  • Also at FanRag, Heyman writes about The Top 20 Starters Who Could Join Sonny Gray on the Market. Given that the Cubs are not necessarily out of the starting pitcher trade market, you can take this list of 20 names as their potential targets – of course, with a few exceptions. First, they don’t have the pieces to get Michael Fulmer, Julio Teheran, Jacob deGrom, Chris Archer, or Marcus Stroman without dealing from the big league roster, which is unlikely at this point. The Pirates won’t trade Gerrit Cole to the Cubs right now, ditto the Cardinals on Carlos Martinez and Lance Lynn. There’s still no evidence that any of the Rays’ pitchers, which, in addition to Archer, include Jake Odorizzi and Alex Cobb, are available. And the Twins are getting close to adding Jamie Garcia (more below), so they’re probably not trading Ervin Santana.
  • The remaining nine names, however, are still theoretically possible and many have already been tied to the Cubs: Jeff Samardzija, Justin Verlander, Johnny Cueto, Jason Vargas, Dan Straily, Steven Matz, J.A. Happ, Cole Hamels, and Yu Darvish.
  • Still doing his thing at Facebook, Ken Rosenthal has the latest on a number of tangentially related Cubs rumors. Specifically, Rosenthal writes that the Brewers have to be ready to take advantage of a winning season (like 2017), regardless of where they are in their competitive timeframe/window. Of course, he wonders, they may have already missed their shot by not moving sooner for a starter and watching the Cubs roar out to a six-game winning streak. Plus, although they’re still very much in on Sonny Gray, the list of potential buyers is growing (including even non-competitive clubs like the Padres, who could flip him later on), which makes competition for his services that much more robust. He suggests that it may be time for the Brewers to kick things into high gear, but frankly, he’s convinced me of the exact opposite (that can be unbiased, right? I’m not so sure.)
  • One stray note in that article links the Astros to a trio of relievers, including Zach Britton. The Cubs were connected to Britton earlier this week, though we thought it was a bit suspect at the time. At a minimum, it seems he’s available and the Cubs would definitely be interested. So take the Astros interest as another potential hurdle, for what it’s worth.
  • Circling back around to the A’s and Sonny Gray, things might be getting serious:

  • And if you’re wondering what exactly that “price” may include, well Ken Rosenthal tweeted that the A’s were scouting the Yankees’ Double-A affiliate last night. And that roster features middle-infield prospect Jorge Mateo (#3 in the system, #37 overall) and left-handed pitching prospect Justus Sheffield (#5 in the system, #66 overall). The Cubs, of course, don’t have that sort of prospect currency left.
  • But that doesn’t mean they’re totally out. On the contrary, in the same article that linked the Cubs to Yu Darvish, Jon Morosi reports that as of last night the Cubs were still interested in Gray. Of course, query whether that interest is still about driving up the price for the Brewers, but you can’t deny that there’s probably real interest in getting Gray … it’s just that the Cubs might not pay the price when you consider where the market, their current roster, and current prospect reserves all stand.
  • And, finally, although the Twins have successfully conveyed the message that they are buyers this year, the deal for Jaime Garcia is not quite done yet. Indeed, according to Mark Bowman, “ongoing talks will be necessary to reach an agreement,” on the deal. Perhaps there was some last minute cold feet that slowed down the train. If this deal doesn’t get done, you can envision the Twins taking their business elsewhere and still trying to land a second-tier starter, while the Braves shop Garcia elsewhere.

Author: Michael Cerami

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