So … where are we at on the rumor front right now? In my mind, the Cubs’ story goes something like this: because they’re facing an exceedingly winnable (albeit tough) division in the middle of their competitive window during a season in which they’ve already gone out and added Craig Kimbrel, an addition or two over the next two/three weeks feels extremelyl likely.
To that end, we’re most likely to see them target a left-handed reliever (perhaps someone even as exciting as Will Smith) and/or the type of bat that can at least start regularly against righties (like, say, David Peralta). With that said, a bat could be added to second base, third base (by way of moving Kris Bryant to the outfield), or, of course, the outfield.
- Speaking towards one of those rumors – trading for Will Smith – the Cubs are obviously not going to be alone in that pursuit. In fact, Jon Morosi seems to believe even the Dodgers could step up for a rare Giants-Dodgers swap: “Sources say the Dodgers have varying levels of interest in multiple Giants relievers, including the aforementioned Smith, former Dodger Tony Watson, Sam Dyson and Reyes Moronta.” Obviously, those types of rival-in-division trades are rare, but with a former Dodger exec running the show in San Francisco, maybe it can happen. After all, Zaidi will have extremely intimate information on the Dodgers’ farm system.
- With that said, Morosi also points out – in a separate piece – that the Cardinals pursued Smith over the winter and are “poised” to continue those “serious discussions” again this July. Given how needy the Cardinals bullpen is – it was already needy before Jordan Hicks’ season ended – this is worth tracking.
- The Dodgers are also known to have interest in Pirates’ lefty Felipe Vazquez, but the price is expectedly sky-high, so I don’t think they, or anyone (including the Cubs), will be willing to pay what it takes to pry him away *right now*.
- Despite initial reports to the contrary, Phillies right-hander Jake Arrieta is going to continue pitching through his injury. In fact, according to manager Gabe Kapler, he’ll be starting this Friday against the Nationals. Now, on the one hand, I can understand the Phillies’ public position (Arrieta at less than 100% is still a better option than what we have at Triple-A) and there’s no doubt in my mind that Arrieta is tough enough to pitch even if they amputated his arm, but I can’t help but wonder if this is all smoke.
- If the Phillies are angling to target starting pitching in a trade this month, they might be incentivized to allow Arrieta to pitch through this, because they’ll lose a lot of leverage on the market if they confirm that he’s gonna be totally out. Maybe they already have lost that leverage anyway, though. We’ll watch closely at how he looks this Friday, because if he has to leave early, that can change a lot.
- Speaking of the NL East, the Mets stink, and, thus, have recently discussed a Noah Syndergaard trade with “at least a half-dozen teams” sources have told Newsday. Among the teams with reported interest, you’ll find the Padres, Astros, and, *duh duh duh* Milwaukee Brewers, as we discussed before.
- The Padres could have the best shot, though:
Sources: #Padres have inquired to #Mets recently on the availability of Noah Syndergaard. San Diego, with a strong farm system, has been looking for veteran starter since the offseason. Updated story coming shortly to @MLB.com. @MLBNetwork
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) July 10, 2019
- A few more related notes on the Mets: (1) There is no urgency to trade Syndergaard, who’s under control through the 2021 season, (2) the Mets could go “public” with their desire to sell – in general – over the coming days, and (3) Zack Wheeler, Todd Frazier, and Jason Vargas are all candidates for a trade.
- To that end, the Cubs (and Brewers) have already been connected to Wheeler, though I can’t see that (or Vargas) happening for Chicago. And Frazier – besides being a player who seems to have weird conflicts – is slightly worse than league-average against righties, so he doesn’t really make any sense for the Cubs (he is destroying lefties (155 wRC+), though).
- To speak broadly on the Brewers for a moment: be prepared for them to make a move. They might not have the money or prospect currency to make a huge splash, but they can’t really afford to squander another Christian Yelich season. They’re also staring at the same winnable division as the Cubs, so I wouldn’t expect them to sit on their hands this deadline.
- The Diamondbacks keep insisting they’re not going to be full-on sellers this deadline, but I just don’t really buy it. They have absolutely no path to winning the NL West and a Wild Card berth in the NL is going to be extremely tough this season (to say nothing of the fact that all the WC gets you is a one-game playoff and then the “opportunity” to play against the #1 seed). They’ll sell. Maybe just not right away.
- The Orioles are terrible (again) and are very much open for business this July. Indeed, their GM, Mike Elias, has already said that (1) the chatter has already been “very high,” (2) that’s the main thing their front office is spending their time on right now, and (3) they need to be “open to anything that comes our way.” The only problem is they don’t have that many enticing trade chips. MLB Trade Rumors points to reliever Mychal Givens as a potential candidate and says former Cub Andrew Cashner is probably the most likely to be moved, but I can’t really see either guy making sense.
- But they are attractive targets for the Cubs on that roster. For example, 27-year-old outfielder Trey Mancini is slashing .291/.351/.517 (126 wRC+) this season and is under team control through 2022 (he’s not arbitration eligible until next season). The Orioles consider him a part of their “future” and there’s certainly no urgency to move on given his contract, but I’d argue they’d be selling high right now, which might not be the worst idea. Mancini is not much defensively, but he can technically play right field and his bat is pretty legit this year. Shrug. Probably not a realistic option.
- The Marlins have received interest in Starlin Castro and as much as I seriously would love to see him back in a Cubs uniform, he’s been just so terrible this season: .245/.272/.336 (61 wRC+; -0.8 WAR). Of course … he is hitting lefties quite well: .348/.361/.478 (122 wRC+) … but it’s definitely not happening.
- And finally: Marcus Stroman thinks he’s going to be traded this month: “[The Blue Jays] haven’t had me in their plans for the future, and I’ve come to terms with it.” Stroman has been pretty great this year (3.18 ERA through 18 starts), but I just can’t see the Cubs in the market for a starter. The Yankees and Twins were otherwise mentioned, but I suppose you could probably throw the Brewers in there, too.