Lukewarm Stove: Rays Lose Two Key Players, Cubs to the Rescue? Cards Still Focused on Pitching, Brewers Pursuing Josh Bell, More

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Lukewarm Stove: Rays Lose Two Key Players, Cubs to the Rescue? Cards Still Focused on Pitching, Brewers Pursuing Josh Bell, More

Chicago Cubs

I told you it felt like a two-Stove kind of day. In fact, I think we’ll have a lot of these over the next week or so. In case you missed our first rumor post earlier this morning, check it out right here. We talked about a trio of stray Cubs rumors, what the Braves will do without Adam Duvall the rest of the way, the potential for an incoming Yankees blockbuster, and so much more.

In the meantime, here’s the latest from around the league.

Rays Lose Two Key Players, Cubs to the Rescue?

The Tampa Bay Rays are going to be without outfielder Kevin Kiermaier *and* catcher Mike Zunino for the rest of the season. Kiermaier is having hip surgery and Zunino will have thoracic outlet syndrome surgery.

I don’t think I even have to say it, but the Cubs could certainly be of some assistance here. In the outfield, Ian Happ or Rafael Ortega could both make a lot of sense. They’re both very different players from Kiermaier – particularly on defense – but they’d be an upgrade offensively and could play all three outfield spots in a pinch.

Behind the plate, Willson Contreras could take over for Mike Zunino*, or maybe they’d prefer the veteran Yan Gomes. I have gotten *zero* indication that the Cubs would entertain trading Gomes right now – I think the want him to be the starter behind the plate next season, especially with so many young pitchers around. But I also don’t think Yan Gomes should ever be considered untouchable. That would be silly.

The Cubs and Rays did get pretty far down the line on some trade deadline talks last summer, so maybe they’ll be rekindled over the next seven days.

*One important note is that the Rays have already acquired catcher Christian Bethancourt from the A’s earlier this month. He’s not on the level of Contreras (or even Gomes, frankly), but it’s not like the Mets situation over the weekend, where they literally needed ANY catcher to show up. Mike Zunino has been out for over a month.

Cardinals Plans?

There’s a whole lot of this going around and I really don’t like it. I just can’t take Juan Soto on the Cardinals.

But that’s not their only target. In fact, a lot of rumors still have the Cardinals focusing on starting pitching. For example, in his latest Q&A at The St. Louis Post-Dispatch Derrick Goold hammered that point home, with more than a few specific rumors sprinkled throughout.

Here’s one response, for example:

Pitching pitching pitching is what the Cardinals have needed going back more than 14 months now, and it’s one of the biggest gaps in the division race. It’s why the Brewers won last year, and it is why they are widening their lead this year. Pitching pitching pitching. There are other options out there other than those two. If Cleveland is entertaining offers on Plesac (some intrigue) then ask about Bieber (better fit). The asking price for Montas, at last check, remained high. But the Cardinals could look to options at a lower cost — Odorizzi, for example. An under the radar pitcher available from a contending team. Based on the traits that the Cardinals are looking for in a starter, they would likely jump to talk to Boston if the Red Sox entertain the idea of trading Eovaldi based on their recent performance and view of this season.

Josh Bell’s Market Heating UP

According to Andy Martino (SNY), the trade market for Nationals first baseman Josh Bell is heating up, though the Mets are not considered among the favorites.

One league source with knowledge of Bell’s market estimated that five teams were pursuing him, the Astros, Brewers and Mets among them, and that Nationals GM Mike Rizzo was focused on completing a deal so he could move on to trading superstar Juan Soto.

Martino continues: “there’s a sense around the league that Bell is soon to move,” but the Mets are more likely to land Trey Mancini, C.J. Cron, or Cubs catcher Willson Contreras.

As for the Brewers, Bell certainly does make some sense in that he’s absolutely crushing baseballs this season (.305/.388/.496) and is a switch-hitter with All-Star caliber success from both sides of the plate. But Keston Hiura (128 wRC+) and Rowdy Tellez (107 wRC+) have been good enough covering first base this year. With the DH available, I’m sure there are ways you can coordinate the bats to make it all work. And it’s not like Josh Bell wouldn’t immediately be one of the best hitters on the team. But it wouldn’t have been my first guess.

Odds and Ends

  • Just an FYI. Something to keep in mind as these next seven days unfold. Important context: Starting pitching is heavily desired across the league and there’s basically only one good, healthy starter on the market (Luis Castillo). So guys like Drew Smyly or Wade Miley could be reached for in a pinch – albeit for modest returns.
  • In his latest podcast at The Athletic, Ken Rosenthal reiterated that the Mets are “gonna add more,” which I don’t think is much of a surprise to anyone watching. But in terms of specifics, he did mention a right-handed compliment to Dan Vogelbach for first base/DH. Trey Mancini got a special shoutout, and his prior experience with Mets manager Buck Showalter could improve those odds.
  • Just a random note.

Author: Michael Cerami

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