Tyler Chatwood has not pitched in forever. Well, nearly 10 days to be precise, and just twice since June 24.
A great deal of that has been circumstantial – he’s the long guy and the long guy hasn’t been needed – but it’s the kind of thing that raises your eyebrows when you consider the time of year, and when you consider that there is no question of his health.
Unclear. I talked to him today. He's healthy. I said I would ask Joe. He said to let him know what he said. It's on the list. https://t.co/YWugnPZy5O
— Jesse Rogers (@ESPNChiCubs) July 23, 2019
(Note that Rogers later indicated the Chatwood comment was tongue-in-cheek.)
What the usage and that comment got me wondering about … in a market that is desperate for starting pitchers, is it possible the Cubs are hoping they can move Chatwood for a little salary relief to allow them to make other moves? Is it possible some talks are ongoing and they are intentionally limiting his exposure to possible injury/implosion?
It’s conceivable, since saving just a few million on Chatwood could allow them to comfortably take on a reliever or bat contract that might otherwise be a squeeze. I actually think there are several teams out there that would be willing to take him on for a few million bucks spread over the next year and a half. Maybe more. (Chatwood is currently under contract through 2020, making the remainder of $12.5 million this year, and then $13 million next year.)
For a pitching-needy team that doesn’t want to give up a significant prospect, but is willing to role the dice on a very cheap, decent-upside, still-young arm they get for next year, too? I could see it. And hey, Chatwood does have a 4.30 ERA on the year despite swinging in and out of roles – that’s 2% better than league average! Huzzah! I joke a little, but in all sincerity, I could see a team rolling the dice for cheap.
But what I’m not sure I can see is whether the *Cubs* would want to part with Chatwood right now. (Did you ever think you’d hear me saying that?)
The Cubs’ starting pitching depth has taken some hits this past week. Mike Montgomery was dealt to the Royals. Adbert Alzolay is injured. Alec Mills is currently in the rotation until Cole Hamels returns. So, strictly speaking, Chatwood is currently the Cubs’ 6th starter – and in the pantheon of 6th/7th starters, he’s actually a pretty good one. Trading him away for a little salary relief to improve other areas would be quite a risk, and could have the Cubs leaning heavily on someone from AAA like Colin Rea (been great in results, but it’s really hard to project his success to the big league level) or Tyson Miller (fantastic and legit prospect, but almost no experience above AA).
The Cubs do have so many decent bullpen depth arms that maybe they could survive for a while rotating them in and out aggressively while doing “bullpen games” to fill in for an injury, but again, so risky. Right now, I would not anticipate the Cubs are actively shopping Chatwood, but if the market gets desperate? (Which it might be!) Gotta listen.
One thing is sure: trading Chatwood right now would not represent any loss in current production, since he’s essentially never pitching.