A brief recap on the timeline of some recent Cubs trades:
- July 2: Cubs trade Scott Feldman to the Orioles
- July 4: Cubs trade Jason Hammel and Jeff Samardzija to the A’s
- July 13: Cubs trade for Jose Quintana
- July 15: Cubs trade Joc Pederson to the Braves
- July 25: Cubs trade for Aroldis Chapman
- July 26: Cubs trade Andrew Chafin to the A’s
- July 29: Cubs trade Ryan Tepera to the White Sox
- July 29: Cubs trade Anthony Rizzo to the Yankees
- July 30: Cubs trade Javy Báez to the Mets (deadline day)
- July 30: Cubs trade Kris Bryant to the Giants (deadline day)
- July 30: Cubs trade Craig Kimbrel to the White Sox (deadline day)
- July 31: Cubs trade for Alex Avila and Justin Wilson
Given the timing of the draft this year — and the fact that the deadline has been moved to August 2 — you can probably push all of these dates forward a bit in your mind. But the broader point remains: Today is July 20. The deadline is less than two weeks away. And with a handful of obvious trade candidates (Willson Contreras, David Robertson, Chris Martin, Mychal Givens, etc.), the Cubs may want to get started sooner than later. So keep that radar up. The deals are coming.
Michael Conforto Fielding Calls
Now that the draft is in our rearview mirror, free agent outfielder Michael Conforto is free to sign with any team *without* that team being forced to surrender any draft pick compensation. And according to his agent, Scott Boras, four teams have already called about a potential acquisition, including the Toronto Blue Jays.
I bring this up not only because it’s a significant rumor even in isolation, but also because Conforto, 29, might be considered an alternative to Ian Happ, who’s been on the rumor mill a bit more lately.
I think it’s fair to say Happ is more of a sure-thing for would-be contenders at this point in the season, given Conforto’s middling performance last season, his shoulder injury, and the fact that he hasn’t faced live pitching all year. But he can also be had for only money. Perhaps only until the end of this season, too. He’s like a rental free agent. You could see how that would be attractive.
There was a time that I felt the Cubs would be wise to gamble on Conforto’s upside, but that was before Happ broke out into an All-Star and the Cubs signed Seiya Suzuki. Plus, with Brennen Davis on the way and Chris Morel proving his ability, I think it makes a lot less sense.
Red Sox Sellers?
Given their recent struggles, the injury to Chris Sale, and the crowded AL playoff picture, even within their own division, the Boston Red Sox might flip from buyers to sellers at the 2022 MLB Trade Deadline – or at least, so the case is made at The Boston Globe.
J.D. Martinez (137 wRC+) and Nate Eovaldi (3.34 ERA) are both headed toward free agency and represent their more attractive trade targets. Taking a buyer off the market isn’t a great thing for the selling Cubs. Still, those two aren’t really competition for the Cubs pieces (maybe Martinez fulfills the need for a bat for a potential suitor for Willson Contreras, but they’re just very different players).
The Red Sox could also look to trade Xander Bogaerts, who’ll opt out of his contract at the end of this season (and will then be a Cubs free agent target), so maybe that winds up being a conflict down the road, but I think he’s opting out no matter what, so probably no issue there, either.
Soto: Not before deadline, Cardinals In?
There are more rumors about Juan Soto being traded before the upcoming deadline, but now there’s at least one report that says it’s unlikely. That would be good for the Cubs in two ways: (1) eliminating a potentially HUGE piece of competition from the market (and clearing the way for their other many deals that need to take place), and (2) creating a more realistic path for the Cubs to pursue a trade in the offseason.
No. 2 is still unlikely – now or this winter – but the Cubs’ odds will tick up if the deal is put off for a few months.
For what it’s worth, the Cardinals have popped up as a potential landing spot for Soto in multiple places now, including the New York Post, in one of the latest episodes of The Athletic Baseball podcast, at The Athletic, and even at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch underscoring the Cardinals ability to get a deal done with their seven top-100 prospects.
And it’s also worth remembering that they have used the trade market for big deals in the recent past (they tried for Giancarlo Stanton, before he nixed the deal, and they got Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado that way), but I still have a hard time seeing them actually pulling the trigger on a deal of that magnitude. And indeed, in the article out of St. Louis, Derrick Goold identifies starting pitching as their focus at the deadline.
For now, it seems the Padres, Yankees, Mets, Dodgers, Rangers, and Giants are the front-runners. However, there has been some recent pushback on the likelihood of the Nats trading him within their division (i.e. to the Mets).
Odds and Ends
- The Mets needs at catcher and DH have brought us back to Willson Contreras a thousand times over the past month, but he’s not their only option.
- Scott Boras believes there are multiple MLB teams that believe Joey Gallo can return to form after he leaves New York. But whatever. The Yankees are desperate to move him at this point, there are non-stop conversations about how badly they want to trade him, and Boras obviously has his client’s back. I don’t think the appetite for Gallo is going to be as strong as the Yankees/Boras hope.
- Jon Heyman has a rumor dump. Among the highlights: the Cubs made no long-term extension offer to Willson Contreras, Rockies all-star DH/1B C.J. Cron is a candidate to be dealt, and the Blue Jays are interested in trading for Royals outfielder Andrew Benintendi, but he’ll need to get vaccinated first. Plus more.
- Happ and Contreras feature prominently in MLB’s latest roundup of All-Stars potentially on the move at the coming deadline.