It’s rumor season, but unlike the last … well, I guess six straight years now, the Chicago Cubs find themselves on the selling side of the ledger. So let’s check in on the latest from the Lukewarm Stove to see what could be around the corner.
Brewers and Reds Needs
Four days ago, before the Reds swept the Cubs en route to a five-game winning streak, their GM Nick Krall said this about the upcoming trade deadline (via The Athletic): “I think if the opportunity presents itself, we’re going to have to be aggressive and figure out how to help this team.” So, uh, yeah, I think that position has probably only strengthened.
So what are they looking for? Well, C. Trent Rosecrans pointed first to the bullpen, though that’s almost always an area of improvement for any would-be contender, but he and Ken Rosenthal later directed our attention to their needs at shortstop, where Rosecrans calls Trevor Story the prized possession on the trade market. I’d be pretty shocked if they made a move that big, but I guess we can’t take it off the table. And, hey, we’ve seen plenty of teams trade for soon-to-be free agents in hopes of giving them the long-sell on the city/team before they hit the market. Maybe this could be a long-term play for the Reds.
The Brewers are one of those rare teams that do not really need help in their rotation or bullpen, but they could use an upgrade at the corner infield spots, according to Ken Rosenthal. The market may technically have those answers available in Rizzo and Bryant, but neither will be traded to Milwaukee. They’ll have to look elsewhere. And that could actually benefit the Cubs. If other competing options do hit the market, the Brewers could gobble them up, removing an option for teams with which the Cubs would actually trade, shrinking the supply while keeping their demand level.
And, of course, if that weren’t enough of a Cubs connection, remember that whatever these two teams do at the deadline will impact the division – not just in the standings this season, but in terms of relative prospect and roster strength in the future.
White Sox and Trevor Story
Although I can’t exactly see the Reds making a legitimate play for Trevor Story, I can see it for the White Sox. No one expects the White Sox to replace incumbent shortstop Tim Anderson, but there is a report out there that the Sox have “serious interest in Story” to play second base. Interesting. And, hey, why not? It obviously works for the White Sox, and in terms of Story, I think it probably helps his free agent case as much as it would hurt. We already know what he can do at short, let’s see some of that positional flexibility, eh?
Pirates all-star second baseman Adam Frazier is another rumored option for the White Sox.
Mets Want a 3B *and* a Back-End Starter
But now that we’ve talked about three teams who will almost certainly NOT be trading with the Cubs, let’s move onto one legitimate (potential) trade partner: The Mets. And not for just one type of player.
One rumor has the Mets “looking for infield help, particularly at third base,” which obviously aligns with one of the Cubs highest profile available players, Kris Bryant. Brett took a long look at those resurfacing rumors over the weekend, and I suggest you take a look at it when you get a chance. For what it’s worth, the new report has the Mets interested in Diamondbacks infielder Asdrubal Cabrera, but the prior one had Josh Donaldson as a target – a rumor, Jon Heyman recently nixed:
Twins will be a seller and Mets are expected to be an active buyer. But Josh Donaldson isn’t currently on the Mets’ radar.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) July 4, 2021
I don’t think any of that really matters, though. The takeaway(s) here are clear: (1) The Mets have a need at third base, (2) they will explore anything from the top to the bottom of the market, and (3) that includes Kris Bryant, who was a Mets target all offseason.
But like I said, that’s not all.
Mets GM Zack Scott recently discussed the need to add a starting pitcher, and it need not be a guy to file in at the top:
“We have three very good guys atop the rotation, so it doesn’t necessarily need to be a top of the rotation guy,” said Scott before the Mets’ three-game series with the Brewers. “It could be someone who helps us stabilize things until we get healthy.”
Since May 1st, Zach Davies has a 2.86 ERA over 13 starts and has allowed 2 or fewer runs in 10 of those games. Seems like a stable, not-top-of-the-rotation guy to me. So … package deal, anyone?
Well, yes and no. That sort of deal is extremely difficult to pull off, but at the same time, the Cubs have been a part of several over the years – on the buyers side (Alex Avila and Justin Wilson) and sellers side (Yu Darvish and Victor Caratini, Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel). And, hey, the Mets farm system is top-heavy (four guys in the 35-75 range of the Top-100 … and then nothing much at all), so if you want to pry one of those prospects away, it may require a package deal.
Starling Marte: Extension or Trade?
Although the Marlins are sellers and Starling Marte is a high-performing center fielder on an expiring contract (i.e. an attractive trade chip), the Marlins have actually handed him “a multi-year contract extension offer….” Apparently, they’re hoping to iron this out before the deadline, and if nothing comes of it, they’ll trade him.
Perhaps there’s a lesson in there for the Cubs with some of their expiring players, but we haven’t heard anything about any renewed extension talks for a while now.
We don’t know what that extension offer looked like, but Marte is reportedly seeking a three or four-year deal in the $50 million range … which actually seems a little light to me given his current production: .289/.398/.445 (140 wRC+) with a 13.1% walk rate and a 19.9% strikeout rate. He is already 32 and is having a career-year, but still .. it just seems so reasonable. Your rooting interest is that an extension gets done just in case Joc Pederson, for example, becomes a more attractive trade target for teams seeking outfield help this month. Remember, Marte will almost certainly be traded before August if an extension doesn’t get done.
Marlins first baseman Jesus Aguilar, outfielder Adam Duvall, and shortstop Miguel Rojas are all generally expected to be shopped (or at least available) at the deadline. There’s some positional overlap there with the Cubs, but again, I don’t think Baez or Rizzo are at the top of the Cubs list of movable pieces.
Giants Next Shortstop?
This has less to do with the upcoming deadline and more to do with the offseason, but I thought it was interesting enough to include here today. Shortstop Brandon Crawford’s 2021 resurgence (.264/.346/.533; 138 wRC+) is making the team rethink their offseason shortstop plans, which had previously included a run at, among others, Javy Baez.
Crawford, who has played more games than any shortstop in franchise history, heard all the rumors like everyone else. The Giants, with plenty of money coming off the books, were expected to be among the top contenders to sign Corey Seager, Trevor Story, Carlos Correa or Javy Baez to be their next shortstop.
Well, their shortstop may already be in place, with Crawford staying put until prized prospect Marco Luciano is ready in a few years.
Considering my hope that the Cubs make a run at Javy Baez (0r Trevor Story, Carlos Correa, or Corey Seager … any of them either for shortstop or third base), that’s actually probably good news. I don’t see the Cubs having interest in Crawford, so if the Giants re-sign him, that takes one shortstop buyer out of the market.
The Cubs closer is already being called the most coveted player on the trade market.
The Blog-A-Thon is Back!
This deadline may look different than the last six, but it’s probably going to be VERY active for the Cubs. So check out what Brett is promising to do at the deadline while also helping make a positive difference in the world!
— Bleacher Nation (@BleacherNation) July 6, 2021