Lukewarm Stove: Alternative Targets to the Stars, Possible New Ian Happ Suitor, Dodgers Looking at Cooper, Timing of Trades, More

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Lukewarm Stove: Alternative Targets to the Stars, Possible New Ian Happ Suitor, Dodgers Looking at Cooper, Timing of Trades, More

Chicago Cubs

The Cubs are not trading FOR any star players at the deadline, but they do have a number of “star” and “alternative” players to trade away. So one way or another, Eno Sarris’ latest at The Athletic should be of particular interest to us: The cheaper — but still useful — alternatives to big-name stars at the MLB trade deadline.

For example, if you want Juan Soto, but need to use a coupon, Ian Happ’s .340 OBP ranks fifth best among available lefties. By contrast, if the price on Willson Contreras is too high … actually there’s not really a great alternative. You can probably get Sean Murphy away from the Athletics, but he’s under contract through 2025, so he’ll actually cost more to acquire (plus he’s excellent behind the plate and is a very good hitter).

That’s still good news for the Cubs, because I don’t think anyone is getting him at the deadline. Could be a fun trade target for the Cubs over the offseason though?

David Robertson is another “star” player according to Sarris, which makes Rockies righty Daniel Bard the cheaper alternative. However, Mychal Givens also shows up as an attractive alternative (he’s going to make some team very happy at the deadline), as do former Cubs Andrew Chafin and Steve Cishek. It’s a good read overall. Check it out.

New Ian Happ Suitor?

I don’t want to overstate the importance of one stray and speculative writeup from an author with whom I’m not intimately familiar, but I do think Alex Carr makes some good points about the Phillies potential interest in Ian Happ:

…one spot they’ll likely prioritize prior to the August 2 MLB trade deadline is center field, where they’ve struggled to find production all season …. One prominent name for the Phillies’ outfield void is Cubs utility man, Ian Happ, who is putting together a career year at 27 years-old ….

His extra year of club control makes him a particularly tantalizing option for a team like the Phillies, who have struggled for years to find a long-term solution in center.

As rumors of New York, Toronto, San Diego, and Atlanta have popped up in connection with Happ over the last few days, I hadn’t even considered Philadelphia. But Carr is right: The Phillies desperately need help in CF (0.1 WAR, 25th in MLB; 64 wRC+, 30th in MLB) and Happ would absolutely be an upgrade.

And here’s where it gets even more interesting: Although Mick Abel, Andrew Painter, and Griff McGarry are reportedly “all but untouchable,” the Phillies 22-year-old, top-100 catching prospect Logan O’Hoppe is apparently not.

O’Hoppe has high marks behind the plate in both receiving and defense, he draws “rave reviews for his makeup, work ethic, and dedication,” according to Baseball America, and he even he’s crushing Double-A pitching this season: .269/.386/.506 (144 wRC+). I can’t say I was aware of him before today, but he does look compelling.

Baseball America didn’t have him in their top-100, but given the Cubs long-term needs behind the plate, I think he would be an excellent target.

Needless to say, the increased activity in Ian Happ’s market may prove very beneficial to the Chicago Cubs over the long-term. I’ve been as resistant as anyone in trading Happ, but if his value is as high as it seems, you really can’t say no.

Dodgers Looking at Cooper?

The Dodgers are reportedly looking at Marlins All-Star 1B/OF Garrett Cooper, but possible only as an alternative to Juan Soto? I don’t know about that.

We did just learn that the Marlins are open for business (for anyone not named Sandy Alcantara), but I don’t know that I see Cooper, 31, as a fit in L.A., where he won’t ever play first base because of Freddie Freeman or right field because of Mookie Betts. Even old friend Trayce Thompson has been good in left field (132 wRC+ for the season, 178 wRC+ in July), so I guess you’re talking about a pure DH play … where Jake Lamb has a 132 wRC+.

Soto is an obvious upgrade for any team at any time, but Cooper? I don’t know. He was an All-Star for a reason, but half the Dodgers lineup plays like All-Stars. Maybe more.

Timing of Trades, Soto Favorite?

On this EPSN podcast, Jeff Passan said we still probably ahve 48-72 hours before all hell breaks loose on the trade market, with one exception: Juan Soto.

He doesn’t see the Nationals as a team interested in trading Soto with a deadline staring them in the face, which does make some sense just logically speaking. And those two parts, of course, go together, because we think a potential Soto trade is probably slowing everything else down.

Passan also still believes the Padres – not the Cardinals – are the favorites to land Soto: “I’m not sure how big of a player St. Louis is going to be there, considering how focused the Cardinals are on pitching right now.” Which, thank god. Even if that screws up a potential Padres-Cubs deal, I prefer that to Soto in St. Louis. That said, he does believe they’re the best situated to get him (in terms of prospect capital).

Odds and Ends:

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Author: Michael Cerami

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