Lukewarm Stove: Cubs Interest in Merrifield? Other Teams on Diekman, Rangers Outfielders, Phillies, Diekman, More

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Lukewarm Stove: Cubs Interest in Merrifield? Other Teams on Diekman, Rangers Outfielders, Phillies, Diekman, More

Chicago Cubs

At CBS Sports, Matt Snyder does a great job of breaking down the NL Central in terms of buyers, sellers, and holders, with qualifiers aplenty – and you’ll definitely want to check it out. It’s kind of the perfect quick-guide/catch-up for those who’ve missed the start of the trade season. Snyder includes not only what each tea is like to do, but also which players or positions they might target in any such deal.

On the Cubs, Snyder aptly slaps the “definite buyers,” stamp, with more conviction than any other team in the division. Of course, they’re not entirely alone. The Brewers and Cardinals are also set to be buyers, according to Snyder, while the Reds are in hold mode along with the Pirates, who could soon look to sell. There’s a lot of detail in there, so I suggest checking it out.

  • One of the bits from Snyder that might catch your eye: “As for bats, the Cubs have been connected to the Royals Whit Merrifield, but their demands are unrealistic.” Oh. They have? Until now, all the “connection” to Merrifield, as far as I can tell, has been speculative.
  • This did just come out yesterday, though I’m not quite sure how seriously to believe it:

  • First thing’s first: This is all especially tough, because we’re largely unfamiliar with this radio station/host. If it were Chicago-based guys or even more notable national analysts, we might be able to throw some weight on this. But it’s not, so it’s extremely tough to measure. But perhaps more to the point, what does it even mean to be “interested” in a guy. I’m sure a ton of teams are interested in trading for Merrifield. And, indeed, that doesn’t change Snyder’s point that the Royals might not be “interested” in trading him for anything less than a king’s ransom.
  • I’d love if this were a bigger deal – and, hey, hearing they do have interest is better than the alternative – but I just don’t think this is the Merrifield rumor we’ve been waiting for.
(Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
  • After the Cubs and Royals got together on the Martin Maldonado trade, Brett discussed that the two sides were working on a version of the trade before it went down and how that could possibly imply another swap between K.C. and Chicago in the future: “I know your head will immediately go to Whit Merrifield, but as we’ve discussed, that seems unlikely. Instead, the guy that comes to mind for me is lefty Jake Diekman, a guy the Cubs have been tied to several times the last couple years.”
  • If you want to read more about Diekman, check out Brett’s post, but in the meantime, I wanted to point out that the Dodgers and Nationals are both already known to have interest in the Royals left-handed reliever. The Dodgers need a lefty in the pen almost as badly as the Cubs.
  • Ken Rosenthal answers 12 burning questions about the July 31st deadline, with notes on guys like Madison Bumgarner, Trevor Bauer, Matthew Boyd, and others. The part you’ll find most interesting, however, is his suggestion to study Theo Epstein’s deadline history – specifically his willingness to ship big-name players in huge July deals. Kyle Schwarber is Rosenthal’s best guess if such a move went down this year, though he does point out that rival execs “fantasize about Kris Bryant becoming available.” Rosenthal also points out – correctly – that it’s hard to imagine the Cubs being better without him right now. I’d agree.
  • Shockingly, Rosenthal also openly wonders if the Brewers should actually sell at the deadline, starting with free-agent-to-be Yasmani Grandal. If they sold, that would certainly be a shock – and a huge win for the Cubs – but do we buy it?
  • For what it’s worth, Brewers President David Stearns doesn’t seem to think so: “We would like to be in a position to add to this team. That is our preference. And I anticipate that’s where we are going to be. We’re still in evaluative mode. We still have time. But certainly we would like to be in a position to add to the team where appropriate.” For what it’s worth, Stearns also implied that the team would make up his mind for him (in other words, if they keep losing, his hand might be forced). If they do start winning, however, they’d most likely be interested in a starting pitcher.
  • And to that end …

  • Ray, 27, has a 3.81 ERA (4.04 FIP) this season over 20 starts. He’s also under team control for 1.5 seasons via arbitration, so he won’t come cheap. That’s a useful, young piece for a mid-market team like Milwaukee. They might want to trade for him whether they think they can go all the way this season or not.
  • The Rangers have a surplus of outfielders and an 8.5 game deficit in their division, so they could be selling at the deadline. Their crop of outfielders includes Delino DeShields Jr. (112 wRC+ since being recalled from Triple-A), Joey Gallo (160 wRC+), Shin-Soo Choo (130 wRC+, .388 OBP), Nomar Mazara (.276/.327/.454 over his last 40 games) and recently demoted Willie Calhoun (102 wRC+). The Cubs could use an outfielder and have traded with the Rangers many times before. There aren’t any direct rumors there yet, but I wouldn’t be surprised to learn if there are in the coming weeks.
  • Although, the Cubs would not be alone in that. The Phillies, having already lost Andrew McCutchen this season, are sending left fielder Jay Bruce in for an MRI. If he’s going to miss some time, they might soon need to add a bat to the outfield, as well.
  • Mets trade candidate (and free-agent-to-be) Zack Wheeler is headed to the injured list with right shoulder fatigue. A lot of teams, from the Brewers to the Red Sox, to … the Cubs (for some reason) have been connected to Wheeler, so his progress will be important to track this month.
  • Player 2 has entered the game:

  • If the AL continues to tighten up, we may see more buyers on that side of the league.

Author: Michael Cerami

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