Jon Morosi jumped on 670 The Score yesterday, dropping a ton of interesting/ rumory bits about the Cubs. Indeed, we’ve already discussed his updates to the pervasive Castellanos-Cubs rumors, but as we know, this team could use a lot more than just a bat.
Specifically, they also need a reliever – ideally someone who can squash lefties, but (with Pedro Strop’s struggles) probably someone who can just be good late in ballgames in general.
And to that end, Morosi started listing off names of high-end relievers that are likely to be on the move this month, some of whom have already been connected to the Cubs this season – Shane Greene from the Tigers, Ken Giles and Daniel Hudson from the Blue Jays, Will Smith and Tony Watson from the Giants, Mychal Givens from the Orioles, and Kirby Yates from the Padres – noting that not all of them make as much sense for the Cubs as they might for other teams.
But after he completed his name dump, he brought up something that was both interesting and curiously specific: “The Cubs could probably go more towards the rental market for an arm, and I do believe Daniel Hudson – if they end up talking to the Blue Jays about Eric Sogard, and reportedly they are, I can see a Blue Jays deal with the Cubs with Eric Sogard and Daniel Hudson making a ton of sense.”
To first address this most broadly, note that Morosi said he is “Most confident the Cubs will find a way to add both a bat and a relief pitching arm,” this month. He thinks the Cubs know the NL Central is their division to lose and that the Brewers and Cardinals are not likely headed for a big splash on the trade market. So with the playoffs squarely in sight, the Cubs will undoubtedly look to shore up both weaknesses this month. Cool. Love to hear that, regardless of what follows.
But will they do it all at once? Well, this front office has been known to stack deals in the past. They traded Jason Hammel and Jeff Samardzija in a combined deal with the A’s to maximize their return back in 2014 and they traded for the Tigers’ Alex Avila and Justin Wilson in a combined deal two years ago, as well. We’ve also already guessed that the Cubs could be eyeing a combined Shane Greene/Nick Castellanos deal this summer, so maybe now we need to consider the same for Eric Sogard and Daniel Hudson.
And it’s not like this is the first we’ve heard the Cubs attached to Sogard this month. Just after the All-Star break, Jesse Rogers pointed out that the Cubs had been looking at Sogard in the offseason (electing instead to sign Daniel Desclaso …) and could look to go after him again at the deadline. Here’s part of what Brett had to say at the time:
That’s a rather specific mention there, and it’s interesting to learn that the Cubs wanted to take a flyer on Sogard in the offseason, though he ultimately chose a minor league deal with the Blue Jays.
Since then, the 33-year-old utility man (second base, mostly) has been fantastic in 60 games with Toronto, hitting .294/.364/.478 (124 wRC+), while running the bases well and playing his typical average-ish defense. Sogard was a long-time light-hitting utility man with the A’s before he became a slightly-above-average hitter with the Brewers in 2017. He fell completely off a cliff last year, hence the minor league signing.
All of that still applies, except that Sogard is hitting slightly better than he was .300/.365/.480, albeit with an even higher BABIP than before. Importantly, I’d like to acknowledge that Sogard is hitting well overall (124 wRC+), but is particularly effective against left-handed pitching this season (134 wRC+). That is a highly attractive bat, if you believe his work is sustainable (which is debatable on the power side, at least – seems unusual for him).
As for Hudson, well, he’s less of an ideal fit. Although his 2.66 ERA is wonderful, his 4.39 FIP is meh (and his 11.1% walk rate would make him fit right in with this Cubs bullpen … he typed while crying). Worse, he carries traditional splits which means lefties have hit him better than righties. But it’s more complicated than that. As Morosi points out, Hudson has been REALLY good for a while now.
Since May 26th (his last 20.1 IP), Hudson has a 0.89 ERA with a far better 2.54 FIP. And during that stretch his strikeout rate is up to 25.6% while his walk rate is down to a much more passable 9.3%. Even his results against lefties during this stretch has been stellar: .143/.242/.214 against 34 batters. That’s not nothing.
But don’t let yourself start drooling, because the results of this stretch are also hiding a terrifying 50.1% fly ball rate and 46.3% hard-hit rate. How do you think that’ll hold up when the wind is blowing out during the warm August and September months?
Would Hudson be a compelling addition to this bullpen? Sure! Is he the sort of obvious, late-inning *or* lefty-squashing reliever the Cubs need to rely on? I don’t really think so. But that doesn’t mean I’m not interested. It’s fairly likely that a Hudson/Sogard deal would improve the Cubs *and* cost significantly less than their bigger-name counterparts in Detroit (Greene/Castellanos). And even if the price on the latter isn’t going to be as affordable as I suspect it might, the fact that an alternative package exists at all could give the Cubs the leverage they need to get a deal done on their terms.
Like Brett said about the Yasiel Puig rumors: it’s just good for more options to come onto the market.