Lukewarm Stove: Who Are the Sellers? Yankees Trying to Extend Soto, Eflin, Alonso, Martinez, More

Michael Kopech Cubs
Michael Kopech Cubs

MLB RUMORS — Even though we’ve already had one relatively big trade this season (Luis Arraez to the Padres) and even though the Cubs have made a couple of their own (acquiring Tyson Miller, dealing Richard Lovelady), I don’t think we’re in the actual season of MLB Rumors just yet. That doesn’t usually start until AT LEAST June. And for the last few seasons, it hasn’t kicked off in earnest until after the draft.

With that in mind, the 2024 MLB Trade deadline isn’t until July 30 this year. And while I do expect the Cubs to be active, Jed Hoyer is a notoriously/historically late mover among his peers.

For now, I just want to point out that because this the most competitive Cubs team in a while — with a booming farm system, to boot — I do expect this to be a very busy rumor season for the Cubs. With their current organizational setup, they could easily target rental pieces for this October *or* dangle a big-time prospect for a long-term solution. Pretty much anything is on the table.

Until then, I thought we could set the stage for the coming storm, and also talk about the few (significant) MLB rumors already out there.

Most Likely to Sell and Other MLB Rumors:

The Athletic ran down a list of the most likely sellers, as well as whom they may look to trade, and I don’t think there’ll be many surprises:

  1. White Sox
  2. Rockies
  3. Angels
  4. Marlins
  5. Athletics
  6. Cardinals

You can head over to The Athletic to get a sense of the potentially available players from each team, but the important takeaway is more general: All but one of these teams should have no problem trading with the Cubs. And that’s good news. In the past, we’ve seen markets where the best available players are on the Cubs NL Central rivals. Even the White Sox, who used to be a tougher trade partner for the Cubs, have been a part of a few deals over the past several years.

Speaking of which, the Sox best trade chip is Luis Robert, but I doubt he’ll actually be dealt. And he doesn’t fit the Cubs needs at the moment. Instead, I’d focus on the relievers: Steven Wilson (2.84 ERA in 19.0 IP … but a 17.1% walk rate, so no thanks), Tim Hill (2.25 ERA in 16.0 IP, but an 11.0% strikeout rate, so no thanks), and closer Michael Kopech (3.32 ERA in 21.2 IP, 5 saves, 1 blown save).

Kopech’s walk rate is incredibly high again this year (north of 15%), but he also strikes out a lot of guys (31.5%) and does a pretty good job of limiting hard contact. If the Cubs think they can rein in the wildness (without sacrificing his premium velocity (99 MPH)), I think he could be an interesting target.

Michael Kopech is among the latest MLB rumors
© Matt Blewett-USA TODAY Sports

Other relievers of potential interest: Jalen Beeks (Rockies), Tanner Scott (Marlins), Lucas Erceg (A’s), and Austin Adams (A’s). Mason Miller was listed, but the asking price as astronomical, as we know. Luis Garcia wasn’t listed, but still makes some sense to me:

Juan Soto Extension (Not) Coming

A few days ago, Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner shared some optimism for a potential Juan Soto extension before he hits free agency this offseason.

“(That’s) something that may very well happen,’’ Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner told Jack Curry on the YES Network analyst’s podcast Thursday.

“I think we’d like to see him here for the rest of his career, I don’t think there’s any doubt of that,’’ said Steinbrenner, in response to Curry’s question about how aggressive the club would be to keep Soto.

“His agent, Scott, doesn’t tend to normally do deals in the middle of a season. Neither do I,’’ said Steinbrenner, believing it could be a distraction.

“But as I said in spring training (to the media), this is a unique situation and a very unique player,’’ Steinbrenner said. “I wouldn’t be shocked if there was a conversation or two had, possibly, during the course of (the) season. I think it’s worth doing at some point.”

I can tell you right now, that ain’t happening.

Soto is just months from free agency, and is probably going to get the richest contract in MLB history by measure of present value (he won’t get “$700M” like Ohtani did, but without the deferrals, that deal was worth “only” $460M). Considering that Soto has already declined a $440M deal, and is currently posting his best season ever, beating that is not out of the question.

Nah, this will go to free agency and it will be a nightmare to follow, especially as the Yankees and Mets drive up the bidding beyond any reasonable team’s budget.

Rays Eying Zach Eflin

According to Bob Nightengale, the Braves are “keeping a close eye on Tampa Bay Rays veteran starter Zach Eflin if they decide they need another starter at the trade deadline.”

That’s the one piece of good news for the Cubs this season – they SHOULD be able to sit out the starting pitcher trade market. Justin Steele, Shota Imanaga, Javier Assad, Jameson Taillon, Jordan Wicks, Hayden Wesneski, Ben Brown, and perhaps Cade Horton should be more than enough to get them through the year competitively.

Pete Alonso and J.D. Martinez Available?

Multiple GMs are reportedly “convinced the Mets will still make first baseman Pete Alonso and DH J.D. Martinez available in talks before the July 30 trade deadline.”

J.D. Martinez: .315/.359/.466 (141 wRC+)
Pete Alonso: .229/.305/.453 (117 wRC+); 10 HRs

The Cubs had interest in trading for Alonso last year, but they’ve since dealt for Michael Busch. And even if that wasn’t the case, Pete Crow-Armstrong looks good enough to get a full-go in center field, which could push Cody Bellinger to first. So I really don’t think there’s an avenue there for those talks to be re-opened.

As for Martinez … maybe? He’s obviously hitting well, but the Cubs have some DH types internally that might make sense to try out at the big league level in a couple months. In fact, the Cubs are already up one too many hitters (outfielders, specifically), when everyone is healthy.

It’s silly to look at a broken offense right now and act like the Cubs couldn’t use help, but I don’t think they’re playing to their true talent level at the moment. And there are some internal options that could eventually make some sense to try out (Alexander Canario, Matt Mervis, Owen Caissie, Brennen Davis, Matt Shaw, Moises Ballesteros, etc.). It’s just too early to tell, but it’s good to know there could be some options out there.

written by

Michael Cerami began covering the Chicago Cubs for Bleacher Nation as a part-time contributor in 2015. One year later, he joined Bleacher Nation full-time, covering the Chicago Cubs and Major League Baseball. Today, Michael runs Bleacher Nation, contributing as a writer (Cubs, MLB) and an editor for all sections of the site, including the Chicago Bears, Bulls, and Blackhawks, as well as MLB, NBA, NHL, and NFL. In 2019, Michael was the co-host of NBC Sports Chicago's Cubs Post-Game Show Outside the Ivy. You can find him on Twitter/X @Michael_Cerami

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