With the All-Star events and the Draft behind us, it is finally, totally, officially trade season. Most deals are likely still developing and will take until the deadline, itself, but we are officially past the point where a trade can be deemed unlikely simply for being too early. Brett got into the full slate of Cubs and the trade possibilities earlier, but there are also rumors to dig into.
With that in mind, some of the latest …
Jed Hoyer’s Plans
The latest from Sahadev Sharma and Patrick Mooney’s at The Athletic is something you’ll want to check out as kind of a backbone for what’s to come. The title says it: Cubs Trade Deadline Primer: What to Expect with Jed Hoyer in Sell Mode.
If you’re willing to read between the lines a bit, there’s some good insight into what we might expect over the next couple weeks. Unfortunately, I’m not so sure you’re going to like what you find. The write-up begins with an explanation of the Yu Darvish deal, citing his no-trade clause, the financial component, and the evolution of front offices that now cling to upper-level prospects as a reason why the Cubs weren’t able to get what they wanted: “Of course, Cubs president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer would’ve preferred to receive multiple Double-A prospects from a top-100 list in a Darvish deal.”
And that message seems to be parlayed into a broader lesson about what to expect between now and July 30th. Do not necessarily expect older, tip-top prospects in all trades. The best value might be among the younger, higher-risk ranks.
However, Sharma and Mooney are clear to point out that the timeline of whatever prospects the Cubs received for Darvish (or may get this offseason) does NOT need to mirror the timeline of the big league team returning to the postseason. For one, they have very little money committed to the future. And for another, those prospects can always be traded to supplement the big league roster.
It’s all very reasonable and logical, and that’s kind of what I hate about it.
As a somewhat-related aside, let me say this: With the minor leagues shrinking and a 180-man roster limit for the minor leagues, there are finite spaces in each organization, which must be a consideration when making a trade (h/t to Evan at Cubs Insider for starting to get into this concept). It’s easy to say just bring in whatever you can get in a trade, but doing so is necessarily displacing someone else from the organization. So it has to be a worthwhile prospect – or at least better than you perceive your lower-tier prospects to be.
Kimbrel, Davies, and the Padres
There was one subtly specific rumor in that article, even if it appears innocuous on the surface:
“The Padres remain a team to watch coming out of the All-Star break because A.J. Preller is such an aggressive, unpredictable baseball executive and the Cubs have a wide range of players who could help San Diego compete in the rugged National League West.
Preller was involved in two Craig Kimbrel deals in 2015 …. “
That’s not nothing. Not from Mooney and Sharma.
Not only does the Padres GM have a history with (and a need for) Cubs closer Craig Kimbrel, he could probably also use a starting pitcher (something we’ve discussed previously with respect to former Padres starter Zach Davies). Throw in the fact that the Cubs and Padres got together on a deal this winter, which implies some extracurricular knowledge of each others’ systems and an ability to align on player value, and you’ve got some potential smoke. Just something to keep an eye on.
Hypothetical Cubs Deals
I told you the Cubs were going to turn the trade market upside down, and now they have. Kind of.
The folks at MLB.com have come up with six different trade proposals for the Cubs including Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Javy Baez, Craig Kimbrel, and/or Andrew Chafin. They’re a bit odd.
Only one such proposal nets the Cubs a top-100 prospect: Anthony Rizzo and Andrew Chafin to the Yankees for Luke Voit (under control through 2024, to replace Rizzo) and the Yankees’ #4 prospect, shortstop Oswald Peraza, who’s a borderline top-100 prospect currently in Double-A.
Mark Feinsand ultimately has the Cubs saying no to this deal, though I’m not so sure that makes much sense. I think they’d probably be pretty lucky to land a legitimate big leaguer and a top-100 prospect already in Double-A for two months of Rizzo and Chafin, though I understand that Chafin, alone, could probably net you an interesting piece and that the Cubs might not want to trade Rizzo at all (unless he was seeking it).
It’s all very weird, though, because this might actually be the most attractive return among the proposals, and it doesn’t include the Cubs’ best reliever or position player. So whatever. It’s just interesting to read, if you’re into that sort of thing.
Cubs and Mets
Michael Mayer is pretty tapped into the Mets’ world and he’s heard that the Cubs are scouting the Mets’ Low-A affiliate, with a special eye on two of their top-15 prospects:
Sources: Cubs scouting the St. Lucie Mets heavily right now. Utility man Jaylen Palmer and right-handed starter J.T. Ginn are two names they like.
— Michael Mayer (@mikemayer22) July 9, 2021
Palmer, 20, is a big, power-first (well, in theory) infielder with good athleticism and an above-average arm. He’s expected to outgrow shortstop, but can play pretty much all over. He is currently slashing .268/.380/.358; 14.4 BB%, 27.9K% (110 wRC+) in his first attempt at A-Ball. He is the Mets #12 prospect according to MLB.com.
Ginn, 22, was the Mets’ second round pick last season, but he got first-round money ($2.9M signing bonus) and is currently their #6 overall prospect. He is recovering from the Tommy John surgery he got just before the draft, which explains his odd route to first-round money and pedigree (he was actually ranked as the 23rd best prospect in the 2020 draft). Landing Ginn would be pretty exciting.
But for whom would these prospects be traded? Well, the Bryant/Mets rumors go back a while, and you couldn’t rule that out, though rumors have New York also interested in an innings-eating starting pitcher they could file in behind their big three (your brain goes to Zach Davies, but he’s more of a short-start, good-results guy, not so much an innings-eater).
However, the Mets are about to get J.D. Davis back (tomorrow) while Carlos Carrasco is beginning is rehab assignment tonight. If those returns appear imminent and positively impactful, the Mets’ urgency to deal for either/both could recede. Or at least that’s what they’d tell you at the negotiating table. Just something to keep an eye on.
Odds and Ends
• Danny Duffy (trade) and Cole Hamels (free agency) could be competition for the Cubs’ efforts to trade Zach Davies this offseason, especially because Hamels will cost only money. With that said, this is a pitching-hungry market and Davies is quietly having a LOT of success since the beginning of May. I suspect if the Cubs want to trade him, they’ll get a fair price.
• The Red Sox were involved in the starting market, as well, but Chris Sale should be coming back soon and maybe quite strong, which would change things:
Chris Sale is throwing 97 mph in his post-TJS ramp up in the minors. So, I'd say the Red Sox are probably going to get a really nice infusion later this year. https://t.co/g1bPjRNlfg
— Bleacher Nation (@BleacherNation) July 15, 2021
• Rangers outfielder Joey Gallo (.403 OBP, 24 HRs at the All-Star break) is having the best season of his career and is wholly available in trade. The Padres and Yankees have reportedly shown interest so far, and I bring that up not because Joc Pederson (a lefty outfielder like Gallo) or Kris Bryant (a better offensive comp, who can play all three outfield spots) are perfect alternatives, but they are both theoretically available and so the Yankees and Padres should probably be considered theoretical destinations.
• There’s another left-handed corner outfielder drawing interest from the Yankees, however, and that’s Kyle Schwarber. The Yankees are seeking some left-handed balance for their lineup and if you recall, they had been trying to pry Schwarber away from the Cubs for years. But Schwarber is on the shelf with a hamstring injury, and also the Nationals are borderline competitive, so I would call it a “watch” situation.