The Rundown: Heyward Introduced, Cubs Still Need CF and Maybe SP, Cleveland Still Looks Like a Nice Trade Partner

Top Of The First

We’ve arrived at the Hump Day version of The Rundown and, as promised, I am going to look at possible depth acquisitions via some of the other MLB teams to see if the Cubs may match up in trade. We’ll look at Cleveland a little today since they are often mentioned as potential trade partners with the Cubs.

Hey – We Still Kinda Need A CF

While it’s true Jason Heyward is perfectly capable of playing center field for the Chicago Cubs, it is certainly not what the Cubs may want to do with their new acquisition. Optimally, you want your best defensive outfielder playing his best outfield position and for Heyward that’s right field. The Cubs still have a lot of options and can trade from their big league roster or from minor league depth in order to find either a platoon or everyday center fielder.

Carlos Gomez is possibly available and is in the final year of a contract that will pay him $9 million dollars. The Cubs would almost certainly have to trade Jason Hammel to add Gomez, but that would likely be in a separate deal. I have to believe a trade of Jorge Soler straight up for Gomez would get the deal done. Other options include Kevin Kiermaier or Desmond Jennings of Tampa, Charlie Blackmon of Colorado or re-signing one of Austin Jackson/Dexter Fowler.

Thinking outside the box, I still want to see how moving Javier Baez plays out and I believe the Cubs think he can stick in CF.

Hey – A Starting Pitcher (Or Two) Would Be Nice As Well

Jeff Sullivan of Fangraphs wrote a great piece about whether or not the Cubs need more pitching. The current staff projects as the second best in the NL but adding length and depth to the rotation helps in the event of an injury. Ideally, you’d like to have that depth centered on guys who are ready to play at the MLB level.

We’ll rule out adding another free-agent starting pitcher for now. The Cubs do have great length to their current rotation, a staff that runs eight deep if necessary:

  1. Jake Arrieta
  2. Jon Lester
  3. Jon Lackey
  4. Jason Hammel
  5. Kyle Hendricks
  6. Adam Warren
  7. Travis Wood
  8. Trevor Cahill

With that depth in mind, perhaps the Cubs could seek near-MLB-ready pitchers that may be available in the right deal. I’d imagine a trade centered around Gleyber Torres — with or without Eloy Jiminez and/or Billy McKinney added depending on the target — might net the Cubs starting minor league pitchers such as Sean Newcomb or Aaron Blair of Atlanta, Jake Thompson or Mark Appel of Philadelphia, or Jeff Hoffman of Colorado.

Cheaper options might include Matt Andriese of Tampa, Jarrod Parker of the A’s, T.J. House of Cleveland or Justin Nicolino of Miami.

Though it would be nice to get a pitcher like Carlos Carrasco, Danny Salazar or Tyson Ross, the cost to acquire those players may be a bit too hefty. Conversely, if the Cubs are looking for length and depth for a rotation that is eight deep already, it may make more sense to look a little deeper.

Looking At Cleveland’s Depth

If the Cubs do decide to make a move for either one of Salazar or Carrasco (or even Trevor Bauer) for Jorge Soler, the deal may need to be expanded to include other players. With that in mind, let’s explore the Indians system. Forget about Bradley Zimmer, Clint Frazier or Brady Aiken.

Two to Watch:

SP Michael Clevinger: The 25-year-old SP out of The Citadel is a big, strong kid who modified his delivery and arm slot in a breakout 2015 season. Clevinger showcased improved control/command while limiting hard contact. He pitches aggressively with a plus fastball and a plus slider. The RHP keeps the ball low in the zone and doesn’t allow many homer runs. Sounds like a future Chicago Cub already. Could pitch in the majors this season if needed. I really like this kid.

CF Tyler Naquin: The former top prospect has fallen in the ranks due to injuries but he controls the bat well, plays above average defense, and has a little pop to boot. At his peak he projects as a .280 hitter with 10+ HR and 15+ SB. Naquin is an ideal leadoff hitter who could play at the major league level this season. Naquin’s contact rates are consistently above 70 percent, though his walk rate is only average.

Fact, Fiction, Truth Or Rumor

The Cubs officially signed Jason Heyward today. Theo Epstein formally introduced Heyward to the Chicago fans and media. Evan Altman covered the presser yesterday.

Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plains Dealer said the Cubs and several other teams are still very interested in Cleveland’s young pitching.

Todd Frazier is being shopped heavily and the White sox are one of several interested teams.

Dusty Baker would like to bring 2B Brandon Phillips to Washington if a deal can be worked out with Cincinnati.

The Milwaukee Brewers signed 3B Will Middlebrooks to a minor league deal. The team recently acquired another former Red Sox 3B prospect in Garin Cecchini.

The Pirates resigned utility player Sean Rodriguez. Cubs fans remember Rodriguez fondly from their Wild Card game vs. Pittsburgh this past October (Link via YouTube).

Bottom Of The Ninth

A great read: Hall of Fame manager Joe McCarthy won 2,125 games in a 24-year career and was a rookie manager for the Cubs starting in 1926, leading the team to a National League Championship in 1929. However, McCarthy was fired by Cubs owner P.K. Wrigley with four games left in 1930 and replaced by Rogers Horsnby. McCarthy went on to win seven World Series titles with the Yankees after leaving Chicago. Hornsby won 141 games over three seasons as the Cubs manager, never reaching the playoffs.

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