Lukewarm Stove: Another Cubs-Sox Trade Coming? Happ Suitors, Mets Getting on My Nerves, Cardinals SP Targets, Soto Updates Aplenty, Giants, Tigers, More

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Lukewarm Stove: Another Cubs-Sox Trade Coming? Happ Suitors, Mets Getting on My Nerves, Cardinals SP Targets, Soto Updates Aplenty, Giants, Tigers, More

Chicago Cubs

With no Cubs game tomorrow and a night game set for Tuesday *after the final buzzer*, the Chicago Cubs have a pretty nice schedule for a selling team at the trade deadline. I thought they would’ve taken advantage of that last night by not pitching Drew Smyly (alas), but still. It’s convenient.

Especially if the home stretch figures to be as crazy as promised.

Is Another Cubs-White Sox Trade Coming?

The marquee takeaway from Mark Gonzales’ latest at The Chicago Sun Times is the report that the White Sox have “continued to evaluate relievers, such as David Robertson and Mychal Givens of the Cubs,” especially given how comfortable these two teams have become in trading with one another over the last five years (Jose Quintana, Ryan Tepera, Craig Kimbrel. Even as those deals have not necessarily worked out for the Cubs, I have no doubt that if the White Sox make the best offer for one of the Cubs relievers, he’ll move on down to the South Side of Chicago. I just don’t think there’s any kind of artificial, intracity hurdle there anymore.

But the more interesting angle, in my view, is the reported Sox interest in trading for Diamondbacks left-handed left-fielder David Peralta … who was traded to the Rays not long after this article was originally published.

The obvious need is relief pitching, but a source confirmed the Sox have looked at Diamondbacks left-handed-hitting outfielder David Peralta, whose success and experience would improve their chances against right-handers

Peralta, 34, is … a lifetime .296 hitter against right-handers with an .844 OPS. He has played left field exclusively the last 3½ seasons but can play right.

Peralta would be an upgrade over Gavin Sheets, who had three hits in his last 28 at-bats entering play Friday and a .684 OPS against right-handers.

Ian Happ is a better, younger, more cost-controlled, switch-hitting outfielder than Peralta. He doesn’t have the Tony La Russa connection, but he’s got everything else going for him. If Peralta was a fit, then so is Happ. Just saying. And so now that Peralta is unavailable, it’s not difficult to imagine the Sox and Cubs lining up.

The only issue is that Happ, Robertson, and Givens all have a pretty solid amount of trade value and interest across the league, and the Sox have the worst farm system in MLB. A deal for just one of those players for prospects is probably doable, but even that is still difficult. A package? I’m not sure the Sox will be the top bidder on something like that (even if they wanted to be).

Happ/Mariners/OF Trade Talks

Speaking of Ian Happ, he delivered a number of interesting comments on how he’s dealing with the trade deadline and how teams are acting differently now in an expanded playoff field at NBC Sports Chicago. But tucked away in a corner of that article is the intuitive, but still useful report that Happ “has been targeted by almost every contender including the Padres, Blue Jays, and (both) New York Teams.”

I think we already had a sense that the Padres and Blue Jays were in, but the Mets-Cubs focus has been around Willson Contreras and the Yankees have been more often connected to David Robertson. So that’s maybe a little bit new.

Happ’s name also came up (speculatively) in an article at The Seattle Times that seems to indicate that (1) the Mariners are not done adding, (2) they’d love to have Ian Happ, but (3) the consensus is that he’ll probably cost too much for them to acquire. Still, another team to keep in mind and another reminder that Happ’s value, at the moment, is pretty darn high.

As a tangential aside, before we continue with Happ, here’s more confirmation that the Mariners aren’t done, and that they did check in on Shohei Ohtani and Juan Soto.

Circling back to Happ, the Braves are seeking an outfielder, with a specific mention of the Royals’ Michael A. Taylor.

Taylor is more of a true center fielder than Happ, but he also isn’t hitting as well (he’s having a career best year this season at 110 wRC+, Happ has a career average 114 wRC+, with a 123 wRC+ this season). There hasn’t really been any serious Happ-Braves smoke since the initial rumor, but it’s not difficult to imagine, especially if they’re looking at Taylor (who also comes with an additional year of team control, but is 3+ years older).

Juan Soto, the Padres, the Cardinals, More

Like every day for the past week or so, we have some significant Juan Soto updates to discuss. Let’s do it bullet style to keep it nice and organized.

  • In Ken Rosenthal’s latest mailbag podcast, I got the strong sense that a Juan Soto trade is looking less likely today than it did maybe a week ago. It’s clearly still FULLY on the table, but it sounds like maybe the momentum has slowed, perhaps especially if the Mariners are out, the Yankees seem uninterested at the price point, the Rays got a back-up outfield bat elsewhere, and the Braves/Mets aren’t being seriously considered. Plus, now that the Giants and Rangers are teetering on sellers, it really seems like it’s Cardinals (who are focused on a starting pitcher), Dodgers, Padres, or bust. And that might not be an ideal scenario for the Nats, who could just as easily hang onto Soto for a wider market in the winter.
  • That said, the Padres are still reportedly full-steam ahead on trying to make this happen, with the news being their willingness to swap out the injured MacKenzie Gore for Adrian Morejon (though there’d still be more in this deal):
  • Derrick Goold more or less confirms that Cardinals are involved in the Soto talks, with comments from Cardinals President John Mozeliak, but their focus seems to remain glued to starting pitchers (more on that in the next section).
  • And lastly, Ken Rosenthal discusses the Cardinals tricky position with respect to Juan Soto and their need for a starting pitchers. There’s a lot of intertwined considerations, given their history of trading for superstars, their greater need for a starter, Soto’s age and unique talent, his lack of defense, the Cardinals unwillingness to extend players to deals of this size, the loaded outfield, and so on. The bottom line here, however, is that be it for Soto or someone like Frankie Montas, the Luis Castillo trade ensured that the Cardinals will have to pay a steep price for any of their top targets at the deadline.

Cardinals Starting Pitcher Targets

Meanwhile, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Cardinals are maintaining contact with the Nationals on Juan Soto, but are also in “rolling conversations with teams” on various, available starting pitchers.

Those pitchers include the top remaining clearly available starter, Frankie Montas, but also Jake Odorizzi, Nathan Eovaldi, Noah Syndergaard, and maybe even the Marlins’ Pablo Lopez, if he becomes available. Now that the Angels and Red Sox have emerged as potential sellers, the rental trade market isn’t quite as restricted as it once was. I’m guessing it’s still far more likely that the Cardinals land a starting pitcher than they do Soto, even if it remains a possibility.

The good news is that the Mariners and Reds set one HIGH price on starting pitchers when Luis Castillo was moved over the weekend. Castillo was probably in a class of his own, above even Montas, but it’s not far off. If the Cardinals want him, they’ll have to pay … not that they’ll admit that:

“That doesn’t mean … it has to be matched, or topped,” (Cardinals President John Mozeliak) continued. “There is a line in the sand. So we can understand that part of it. But then there’s also the part there about some opportunities out there who might not be ‘top of the rotation’ but can fill innings. Just because of what happened (in Seattle) doesn’t necessarily mean that market has been defined as far as cost. That’s what we’re working through.”

Okay, Now You’re Getting on My Nerves, NY

Every single day, someone in the New York media tweets or writes about the Mets’ interest in trading for Willson Contreras, but always ties it to some reason why the Mets can’t or shouldn’t or don’t want to actually proceed.

The recent twist on this narrative is Mets totally being able to fall back on Boston’s pieces, but it’s pretty clearly not their preferred route. Brett nailed it on Twitter:

To that end, in case you missed it this morning, Mets prospect Mark Vientos has reportedly come up as a name to watch in any deal between these two teams, and Brett gets into that more right here. Vientos is a tricky trade target for the Cubs. On the one hand, he might be on the higher end of realistic trade targets from the Mets system for a rental bat, but on the other end, he’s got some significant swing and miss issues and is arguably a little redundant to Matt Mervis, another first baseman who’s older and lacking the pedigree, but is performing just as well at the same level.

As Brett put it: “The question for the Cubs is whether they see this as an opportunity to get more value from the Mets than they might otherwise be able, given Vientos possibly being squeezed (even if you might not otherwise choose Vientos, specifically, to add to the Cubs’ system). In that case, you just get as much value as you can, and then you figure out how you actually use/develop Vientos later.”

Odds and Ends:

  • Here’s a really important thread revealing not only the difficult in completing trades right now with a very key players not certain on their buy/sell status, but also that things could start to pick up now that Luis Castillo has finally been dealt.
  • The Giants are one of those teams (like the Red Sox and Rangers) that are straddling the buy/sell line. And although they were seen as trade partners for the Cubs at one point, I think that’s probably out the window now. Instead, I’m hoping they trade Carlos Rodon, who as we just discussed, may not be a realistic free agent option for the Cubs this winter *unless* he’s traded right now.
  • The Tigers are one final late seller with plenty of enticing pieces to move. I still don’t think it makes much sense to trade Tarik Skubal, an excellent 25-year-old left-handed starter with 4.5 years of team control, but the Tigers are in a tough spot after going for it this offseason without making much progress in the AL Central.
  • Brewers might be the team to try to bounce Joey Gallo back:

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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