Lukewarm Stove: Cubs' Interest in Baltimore Bats, Bauer's Market, Giles, Diaz, Cardinal Upgrades, More

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Lukewarm Stove: Cubs’ Interest in Baltimore Bats, Bauer’s Market, Giles, Diaz, Cardinal Upgrades, More

Chicago Cubs

The Trade deadline is just two days away, which means the Bleacher Nation Blogathan is just a day away. And …. GUESS WHAT!? We just reached our goal of sponsoring two wishes! But we don’t have to stop there. We can still push for more!

So please head over to our event page at Make-A-Wish and consider making a donation – however small. It’s for a very good cause … and also forces Brett to do crazy stuff at the trade deadline. Don’t you want that?

In the meantime, let’s head into the lion’s den.

  • The Orioles are all over the Cubs rumor-world lately. Earlier today, we learned that the Cubs asked about middle-infielder Jonathan Villar, though the deal ultimately went nowhere (for now). But he’s hardly the only Baltimore Bat on our radar.
  • Orioles first baseman/corner outfielder Trey Mancini has been available for a while, but the interest and rumors just haven’t been there. That might be related to the big step backwards he took offensively last season (93 wRC+) compared to his rookie year (118 wRC+). But he’s already getting far betters results this season (124 wRC+) than he ever has before. Plus, he’s just 27-years-old and is under team control via arbitration for 3 more years after this one.
  • With all of that said, the Cubs are looking for someone who can help them against left-handed pitching, and that’s not necessarily Mancini’s game. But he is still above average against southpaws this season (112 wRC+) with even better numbers against righties (130 wRC+) – and the same is largely true for his career. Statcast believes he’s outperforming his peripherals, but overall I don’t see much to scare you off (especially given his age and team control).
  • So given where the Orioles are in the standings and their competitive cycle, I imagine we’ll be hearing a lot more “Mancini” before the deadline – possibly even in connection to the Cubs :

  • Oh yeah: Mancini has hit SEVEN home runs since July 16th.
(Photo by Getty Images)
  • And then there’s this guy:

  • Unlike Mancini, Alberto would be a pure bench bat – pretty much exclusively for left-handed pitching. Think of him like a LOOGY in the pen, but on the bench instead. If, for example, he were to cost next to nothing to acquire – which he should – this could be a pretty compelling way to improve the 25th spot on the roster and bump up the expected performance against tough lefties, especially late in ballgames (and, notably, he isn’t making much this year, which squares with the Cubs budgetary limitations).

  • It does help to know that the Cubs and Orioles have already been talking, because a squashed deal today is just the foundation for a completed one tomorrow.
  • Yesterday, Trevor Bauer literally threw the ball over the center-field fence at Kauffman Stadium from the mound out of anger/frustration, as manager Terry Francona walked out to remove him from the game. And given that he’s a high-profile trade candidate this season, people have begun speculating on the impact of that little outburst:

  • I get where Olney is coming from, but also … really? If you didn’t already know this who Trevor Bauer is, you didn’t want to know. Yeah, the move was ugly and childish. But that’s not new for him. He’s just one of those players, who, if you want the good on-field stuff, you have to take the bad off-field stuff. Maybe this will ultimately change the Indians’ leverage these next two days, but it really shouldn’t. This isn’t shocking stuff.
  • Indeed, others believe this might’ve increased the likelihood that he’s gone:

  • People are LOL’ing at the Mets for hurting their own market – which, hey, it’s always great to laugh at the Mets – but this is obviously just a poke at the Mets from the Padres for something they weren’t going to do anyway:

  • At USA Today, Bob Nightengale discusses the six teams with the most urgency to get a deal done before the deadline, and the Cubs are among the six. Nightengale reiterates that they already made a play for Whit Merrifield and Eric Sogard without any luck, but adds that they “are willing to part with players on their major-league roster” to get another power bat or even more pitching.
  • But for however aggressive Nightengale expects the Cubs to be, Gordon Wittenmyer explains why they may not. In short, Theo Epstein has already explained that the Cubs have used up most (if not all) of their available in-season dollars – and that was before they knew for sure Ben Zobrist was coming back. And the fact that they added Derek Holland for effectively nothing soon after he was DFA’d by the Giants supports that reality. The Cubs could still get creative, but I just don’t know *how* creative they’ll truly be.
  • The Mets traded for one of the hottest young closers in baseball this winter, Edwin Diaz, but it hasn’t quite worked out for him in New York (his peripherals are far better than his fairly ugly results, but still), and now he might soon be on his way to another team:

  • Speaking of closers, Ken Rosenthal reports that “all of the contenders” are in on Blue Jays closer Ken Giles – and many are pursuing Daniel Hudson, as well. Both guys have been attached to the Cubs this month, so I’d say they’re still probably involved, but with so much interest … yeesh. The cost may be too high.
  • Rosenthal also warns us not to be surprised if the Cardinals get very active over the next 48 hours, as they search for a controllable starting pitcher and left-handed reliever. However, Rosenthal also reports that their top TWO prospects (#31 and #52 to MLB Pipeline) are both off-limits, which could prevent them making too big of a splash.

Author: Michael Cerami

Michael Cerami is the butler to a wealthy werewolf off the coast of Wales and a writer at Bleacher Nation. You can find him on Twitter at @Michael_Cerami