On the latest Big Time Baseball podcast with Jon Heyman and Cody Decker, among other things, Heyman is going through all the starting pitchers who might be on the market in the coming days. What made the exercise interesting was not so much the names named – Max Scherzer, Jose Berrios, Kyle Gibson, Danny Duffy, Charlie Morton, John Means, German Marquez, among others, none surprising – but was how little confidence Heyman has that any will actually be dealt.
Indeed, Heyman spends most of that section of the podcast talking about how such-and-such guy might not be dealt, and such-and-such guy probably won’t be dealt, and so on and so on. With one exception.
“Zach Davies, with the Cubs, is a guy who’s gonna be [a free agent at the end of the year], so I think he might be dealt.”
That was it. In the entire three-ish minute segment on starting pitching, that was the only guy discussed who Heyman left as a, yeah, he could get dealt guy, with no hedging.
Now, you don’t want to take away too much from this, because Heyman was just speaking generally based on what he’s heard. This was not him intending to drop a bombshell on the imminence of a Davies trade. But it was definitely interesting how, in a segment that was clearly about how needy the market is for starting pitching, but where the actual trades might not satisfy that need, Davies was the only guy whose name came up solely in the traded direction. Which does make sense for a variety of reasons we already know about the Cubs’ standing, Davies’ impending free agency, and the Cubs’ desire to get what they can at the moment.
Davies, 28, is clearly having a down year, but it’s notable that his 4.35 ERA, which includes his DISASTROUS April, is only 7% worse than league average. His FIP is 18% worse, though he’s always been a FIP-beater, and some guys in this range – especially those with a long track record of relative stability – seem to get moved every year. Even for some contenders, “below average” is better than what you have at the back of your rotation.
Part of what will help the Davies market, as we’ve discussed before, is Heyman’s main point: of the top starters theoretically on the market right now, Heyman says, “we’ll be lucky to see two or three of them traded.” And that’s at a time when upwards of 15 teams could be buyers and they’re ALL looking to add starting pitching. So even with Davies’ short outings this year, and even with his last two starts being pretty meh, the market is probably the reason he will still have trade value. More than nominal trade value? We’ll see. But enough to move him for a lottery ticket if the Cubs want (and *maybe* to eat some salary to improve that return)? I could still very much see it.
Michael Cerami contributed to this post.