Lukewarm Stove: MIA Relievers Drawing Cubs Interest, Trading Harper, Hamels, Archer, Gausman, deGrom, More

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Lukewarm Stove: MIA Relievers Drawing Cubs Interest, Trading Harper, Hamels, Archer, Gausman, deGrom, More

Chicago Cubs

Before we jump into the rumors en masse, note that the Cubs/Blue Jays rumors regarding rental starter J.A. Happ and cost-controlled, 27-year-old starter Marcus Stroman have been covered here and remain rather large rumors, to the extent that you can size them up.

Here’s everything else that’s going on in the rumor mill …

  • Among the better-performing, currently-available relievers this summer you’ll find Marlins lefty Adam Conley. Conley, 28, has a 2.63 ERA this season, thanks primarily to a 30.2% strikeout rate with a walk rate under 10%. He’s also, for the first time in his career, generating ground balls at an above average clip, although his hard/soft contact is way out of whack (in a bad way). I bring him up right now, of course, because the winds of rumors are blowing in that direction for the Cubs:

  • All things considered, Conley is a very attractive target, with potentially just one rub: his 3.5 years of control. Although the Cubs would have no problem wanting a guy at his age for that long, the amount it’ll take to get him – while he’s at his peak, no doubt – might not really be the best use of resources. He’s no Brad Hand, and that deal came with another lesser reliever, too, but that cost the Indians a top 10 prospect in all of baseball, so. Who knows, maybe the Marlins will be reasonable and/or the Cubs can convince the Conley’s performance is all a mirage, but if they’re asking elite reliever prices for him, I’m not sure I’m interested in the Cubs making that move.
(Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
  • As for Ziegler, the 38-year-old right-hander has been kinda awful this year (4.11 ERA, 4.65 FIP; -0.4 WAR). I’m not sure the Cubs would be involved.
  • At ESPN, Jerry Crasnick writes up the latest on Cole Hamels, his low-velocity related performance concerns, and the interest – or rather, lack-thereof – he’s generating on the trade market. Among the better points, Crasnick points out that Hamels is a candidate to be traded after the deadline, because his pricier contract and no-trade clause (up to 20 teams) will keep him pricey enough to pass through waivers. And as it turns out, there is apparently very little cooking – at the moment – on the Hamels front anyway. That said, the Brewers and Cubs are both named on a short-list of potential suitors, and frankly, I’m not surprised (and not only because he was connected to the Cubs earlier this week). Hamels is a guy this front office has targeted before, so maybe they’ve always saw something in him that others haven’t – something they think they can tweak. And his contract situations is expensive, sure, but that can all be negotiated.
  • Brett makes some good points, as well:

  • Of course, the Brewers and Cubs are not the only interested parties. According to TR Sullivan, the Yankees have checked in, too, and could be the Rangers’ best chance of moving Hamels before the deadline.
  • At The Athletic, Patrick Mooney discusses the luck the Cubs have had (or skill they’ve displayed?) in acquiring lesser known names around the deadline and how that could continue this year (and already has so far with Jesse Chavez). The most exciting names make for bigger headlines, but when it comes down to performance on the field, the front office can get creative to get the job done.
  • As of the start of play today, the below-.500 Nationals have less than a 50% chance of reaching the postseason, according to FanGraphs. They’re 7.0 games out of first in the East and 5.5 games out of a Wild Card spot (behind 7 other teams). Maybe they should sell. And if the Nationals do entertain a one-year sell-off of their expiring contracts (not the worst idea, IMO), would they actually consider moving Bryce Harper? He’s a free agent at the end of the season and could net a pretty big return. Well, the Nationals sound reluctant to move him (it sounds like they don’t want to completely cut off their chances of re-signing him after the season) and, as Joel Sherman puts it, the Yankees, Red Sox, Cubs, Dodgers, and Astros don’t have enough of a need to justify spending team assets, players or otherwise, on Harper. There are some reasonable landing spots out there – and Sherman gets into them all in a very interesting read – but ultimately, I think Harper’s staying put even if the Nats decide to sell.
  • No surprise here, as we know the Cubs have asked:

  • Speaking of Brach, he’s not quite as good this year as he has been in the past, but there’s actually plenty to like about his numbers, particularly his sky-high soft-hit rate (5th best in MLB) and career-best ground ball rate. Brett wrote more about him here.
  • Last night, the Chris Archer rumors popped up AGAIN, and they’re not going away. However, as Jerry Crasnick reports, agreeing on value for the once-dominant and now more middling starter is going to be difficult, especially because his contract is still very attractive. Sigh. You know the story – I just wanted to let you know that this remains active. Important note: after an abdominal injury, an NL scout purportedly put Archer at 80% health right now.
  • Although some have speculated that the extended loss of Yoenis Cespedes may accelerate the Mets’ willingness/plans to trade Jacob deGrom, that may not be the case. Andy Martino writes that there are just too many variables to consider, even if a deGrom deal remains plausible. I tend to think that because of a lack of clarity on the leadership front (at the moment) and how much deGrom should generate in a deal, nothing will happen. It’s too big of a move to rush. But boy would it be fun.
  • And finally, just FYI: the Rockies have acquired reliever Seung-Hwan Oh from the Blue Jays in an effort to assemble the most costly – in prospects and dollars – bullpen of all-time. To be fair, after falling off a cliff with the Cardinals last season, Oh has been fantastic this year (2.68 ERA; 5.50 K/BB).

  • Forrest Wall is their 13th best prospect, though he’s struggled upon his promotion to Double-A this season, while Chad Spanberger is their 24th best prospect, but has killed it in A-ball: .316/.364/.580 (161 wRC+).


Author: Michael Cerami

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