We know that the Cubs are interested in picking up a lefty reliever this trade season, preferably an impact type, but maybe also just a steady, established type. The Giants, despite having flown up in the Wild Card standings, still project to be sellers this year, at least with their short-term assets. That means they could be a great fit for the Cubs, whether for an impact lefty (Will Smith), or a steady lefty (Tony Watson).
Thus, the Cubs have been connected to that duo before, and that isn’t going to stop after Bruce Levine’s latest.
With Kyle Ryan currently the only lefty in the bullpen, Levine notes, “That question mark figures to be addressed by the time the trade deadline passes on July 31, as the Cubs front office continues to scour the market for lefty relievers. The Giants’ Tony Watson and Will Smith are two of the most-sought after lefty relievers on the trade market.”
Yes, yes, all good to know, but also not at all unexpected.
But then there’s this very interesting wrinkle: “The Giants have a top scout in Chicago evaluating Cubs players this weekend for a possible trade match.”
The Giants are scouting the Cubs’ *big league* team in connection with a possible trade? That’s certainly something.
To be very sure, the Cubs and Giants are set to play each other next week in San Francisco, so some advanced scouting would not be unusual for simple competitiveness reasons. That’s becoming more of a rarity in the game today, though, and Levine does explicitly say that the scout is there looking at trade matches. In other words, the implication is that this isn’t advanced scouting at all, and instead is getting eyes on potential Giants trade targets.
The Cubs do have some theoretically movable, theoretically interesting pieces on their big league roster – Albert Almora would be a gem in that San Francisco outfield, Addison Russell could fit at second base with Joe Panik falling apart – and the Giants could perhaps keep on competing even after a trade like that.
It’s a rare situation to see a couple teams trying to compete making a big league swap, but I could see the fits here in the abstract – I think you’d have to play at the margins to make the right fit. Maybe the Cubs try to get Kevin Pillar back in the deal to help against lefties (and not lose too much in the outfield), or maybe the Cubs take a flyer on a resurgent Pablo Sandoval as a short-term rental bat. Or maybe the Cubs pick up a youngster. Or maybe the deal is much larger and includes more on the Cubs side. Or maybe the Cubs would actually be the “seller” in a deal, picking up prospects for a guy they feel they can part with.
I don’t want to get too nuts on the speculation about particular names. I just think it’s very interesting to see these two teams possibly pairing up on a big league swap. Stay tuned.