Lukewarm Stove: Starting Pitching Market, Mets Urgency, the Many Cubs Fits, More

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Lukewarm Stove: Starting Pitching Market, Mets Urgency, the Many Cubs Fits, More

Chicago Cubs

The Trade Deadline has moved around a bit over the last few years. In 2016, it was August 1st. From 2017-2019, it was July 31st. And last year, for … obvious reasons, it was August 31st.

This season, it’s July 30th. And in case you forgot, Brett is back at it with the Blogathon, raising money for Make-A-Wish while non-stop blogging up to and through the deadline! We just passed the half-way point, so please consider giving to help us reach our goal. This year figures to be especially busy for the Cubs, so you’ll want to max out the hours of coverage!

And, hey, in case you missed the news this morning:

Do Your (Rumor) Homework:

At The Athletic, Ken Rosenthal examines the 10 most intriguing questions of the 2021 MLB Trade deadline which is a fun, interesting read, sprinkled with key information throughout.

For example …

•   The Mets and Astros are likely the only two teams willing to exceed the $210M luxury tax threshold at the trade deadline. The Cubs have been closely connected to the Mets for a while now (Davies, Bryant, etc.), and the Astros have relief needs the Cubs can likely fill.

•   Joey Gallo does not want to be traded, but … he probably will be and the Yankees are an obvious fit (one rival executive even believes the Yankees could try to add Gallo and Trevor Story, moving Gleyber Torres to second and D.J. LeMahieu to first, which … uhm, you sure about all that?). In any case, the Padres are reportedly the most interested in adding Gallo, with one official saying “I think Gallo is the one guy [Padres GM A.J. Preller] might unload for.”

•   Apparently, the trade market for shortstops is so limited that the Rockies might actually hang onto Trevor Story at the deadline. And, yeah, sure, that’s interesting because of Story’s stature, but … that makes me feel like Javy Báez has a better shot at sticking around, and that’s something I like to hear.

There’s a lot of other interesting tidbits in there, including the third base trade (or not) market (Josh Donaldson, Jose Ramirez), the plans in the NL East, and more. Definitely worth checking out.

Kyle Gibson’s Market Shifting?

Kyle Gibson was, at one point, an under-the-radar starting pitcher target for prospective buyers early in the season. But after continuing his early-season dominance, he has since become the best realistically available rental starter on the market.

And, thus, Jesse Rogers believes the Rangers will have their pick of suitors:

… Gibson’s market is basically any team hoping to do something special this season. He could give the Cleveland Indians, Los Angeles Angels and Seattle Mariners a boost from outside the playoff picture but is more likely to end up with a legit contender like the San Diego Padres, Oakland Athletics, Tampa Bay Rays or even the New York Yankees if they are adding to their team.

HOWEVA, at the instigation of one rival executive, who doesn’t quite believe in Gibson’s recent top-level success, and some expected stats/idiosyncrasies of the Rangers defense and ballpark, Ken Rosenthal is singing a slightly different tune: “In a market starved for starting pitching, Gibson is perhaps the most attractive current option. But at a time when teams engage in intense under-the-hood scrutiny, he still might not yield a big return.”

Well, then. On the one hand, I don’t hate to hear that the desirability gap between Gibson and the Cubs best available rental starter, Zach Davies, might not be as big as we initially thought, but on the other hand, a bigger price for Gibson could help raise the floor for a Davies deal. So I’d say it’s going to be net-bad for the Cubs if Gibson doesn’t get a MASSIVE return. Like Brett said this morning, Davies’ value upside is more about the market than his own performance.

Jacob deGrom, Mets Urgency

The first-place (but by only 2.0 games) New York Mets are one of the likeliest buyers at the deadline, even if a trade would take them up over the luxury tax threshold. One of their most apparent needs has long been a middle-of-the-order starting pitcher to slot in behind their top three guys (Jacob deGrom, Marcus Stroman, and Taijuan Walker).

Naturally, given all the other Cubs-Mets connections (specifically with Bryant) and the fact that they don’t need a top of the rotation pitcher, we’ve seen Zach Davies as a reasonable fit.

However, recently, the Mets were signaling a path of patience, with the expectation that Carlos Carrasco, who’s very close to returning, could close some of those gaps and reduce the urgency to deal for a starter. Well, whether that was their legitimate belief or just a play for leverage might not matter any longer, because Jacob deGrom has been sent to the Injured List with right forearm tightness.

It doesn’t sound like something that will keep him out for too long (his MRI was clean), and it’s not like you can replace him anyway, but the Mets will undoubtedly feel increased pressure to add a starter before the deadline. Just something to keep (very closely) in mind.

Yankees, Dodgers, Athletics

In a normal season, a Tweet like this might apply to the Cubs only on the margins, but in a year when they have three star infielders (Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, and Javy Báez), a star outfielder (Kris Bryant), a fourth outfielder (Jake Marisnick), a starting pitcher (Zach Davies), and at least two high-profile relievers (Craig Kimbrel, Andrew Chafin) all theoretically available in trade, it’s difficult to ignore the possibilities.

So I guess consider the Yankees (Bryant, Marisnick), Dodgers (Davies), and Athletics (Kimbrel, Chafin) as potential trade partners for the Cubs:

Starling Marte Is Finally on the Block

Speaking of outfielders, Starling Marte is now very much available at the trade deadline.

The Marlins had been trying to extend their center fielder before seriously considering any trade proposals, but talks stalled when he rejected their offer of three years and $30 million (Marte is 32, but that’s a low offer from Miami). He is now firmly on the trade block, providing some competition for Bryant, I suppose, though they’re very different players.

I am happy that the Cubs have already traded Joc Pederson, though. That’s one potential advantage of jumping the market – avoiding some newfound competition.

White Sox Need Cubs Players, But

At The Athletic, James Fegan addresses the White Sox biggest needs and likeliest areas to add and with their playoff position all but locked up, you’ll be unsurprised to learn that the bullpen is priority No. 1. That said, I’m not so sure I see Craig Kimbrel or Andrew Chafin heading to the south side of Chicago. It’s not that I’d be against trading either guy (I like both guys a lot, but it’s not quite an emotional parallel to, say, Kris Bryant and Javy Báez), but there just haven’t been any rumors connecting these two teams that I’ve seen, despite the obvious fit.

And for what it’s worth, Fegan also mentions right field, where I’m saying Bryant would be an obvious fit, but it’s just not going to happen. Sorry, South Siders. Go shop elsewhere.

Other needs: Backup catcher, second base.

Jon Heyman’s Notes:

Jon Heyman jumped on 670 this morning, and Brett was able to just down some notes as he listened. Among the many topics …

•   Jon Heyman agrees with Jesse Rogers that any contending team should want Craig Kimbrel. And, of course. The best playoff teams always have dominant closers, guys whose value is disproportionate in October, and Kimbrel is inarguably among the top 2-3 closers in baseball right now (and he’s EASILY the best one available).

•   Heyman also said despite the Cubs recent efforts to extend Javy Báez and Anthony Rizzo, just about anyone is available, including them. They still strike me as the least likely to go among this group, but I get the instinct there and believe it’s probably correct.

•   As for Kris Bryant, there is that persistent interest from the Nationals, but the same matchup problems still exist. In short, the Nationals have two top-100 pitching prospects the Cubs would love to get their hands on (Cade Cavalli and Jackson Rutledge), but the Nationals aren’t likely trading either guy. And since their system has a HUGE gap of prospect talent behind them, a deal is tough to figure out.

•   If it doesn’t work out with the Nationals, though, the Cubs should still be good to go. According to Heyman, Bryant has a LOT of interested parties. And given his versatility, that makes it very tough to predict where he might end up. At this point, Heyman sees the Mets as more likely suitors than the Nationals given the better prospect matchup and position in the race, but either way, I love an NL East arms race driving up Bryant’s price, if the Cubs do wind up moving him.

•   And finally, Heyman could see Cleveland and Atlanta turning into sellers, which largely tracks with everything we’ve heard so far.

Odds and Ends:

•   Looking for a quick rumor podcast? Ken Rosenthal has you covered.

•   And here’s a little something on how and why Kyle Hendricks is close to being an “untouchable” player at the deadline. Spoilers: It’s because the Cubs don’t want to be bad next year.

Author: Michael Cerami

Michael Cerami covers the Chicago Cubs, Bears, and Bulls at Bleacher Nation. You can find him on Twitter @Michael_Cerami