Brian Matusz Released After Spot Start, Trade Rumors Swirl

According to the Tribune’s Mark Gonzales (by way of The Athletic’s Sahadev Sharma), the Cubs have released Brian Matusz after Sunday’s less-than-stellar performance. The former Oriole came to the Cubs replete with unrealized potential, but he also had an opt-out clause they avoided by starting him this weekend. The Cubs were probably hoping for more of a showcase, but instead they got the impetus for a wild comeback win.

As Sharma points out, releasing Matusz opens a roster spot for a potential small trade. However, that spot could also be occupied by Jorge Soler (who’s name has come up more than once in talk of potential deals), Tommy La Stella, or Justin Grimm (who was optioned to AAA to make room for Sunday’s starter). Perhaps the Cubs have the former two in the minors because a trade for a bat, particularly a lefty bat like Josh Reddick, is afoot.

And he was right, as Reddick and Rich Hill were just traded to the Dodgers. Reports have the Dodgers aggressively looking to move Yasiel Puig now. With only three hours to go before the trade deadline and only one roster spot available (for now), expect to hear more rumors flying around regarding the Cubs and others. This is gonna get fun.


Smith is an interesting name. I mean, not literally because, c’mon, Joe Smith? But he’s got a funky delivery that’s lower than sidearm and higher than submarine and it looks like he’s throwing from way over by third base. He’s strictly a reliever who’s only started a single game in his professional career, and that was a rehab stint in A-ball earlier this season. Not a power guy, he employs a fastball/slider combo and works in the 80’s with both.

He keeps the ball on the ground fairly well, though he’s allowed 4 home runs in just under 38 innings this season. You’d think a guy with his style would be hard on righties, but they’re actually hitting .260 against him in 2016 (lefties are at .244). For his career, though, right-handed hitters have only a .211/.285/.301 line. Doesn’t seem like the kind of deal that moves the needle, but who knows.

It’s not directly Cubs-related, but this is a deal that will impact the Central moving forward. The Mets are reportedly prepared to send newly-minted Cubs killer Brandon Nimmo and at least one other prospect to Cincy to land Jay Bruce and his sterling 0.7 fWAR. Dude’s got pretty good offensive numbers, but the defense is just…woof. It would appear the Mets don’t put much stock in defensive metrics then.

The deal hit a snag due to some medical issues with a minor leaguer (not Nimmo) who was part of the Mets’ offer, which would make it the second time this year such a problem has nixed a Bruce trade. If you recall, the Blue Jays had a deal in place in the offseason but unsavory physicals derailed that move as well. This is like fantasy baseball when some guy keeps trying to trade you a player who just got hurt or who he just picked up as a free agent.

Yet another move will ancillary impact on the Cubs, this removes a piece of the Brewers’ pen. Not that they often had leads to protect or anything. Jeremy Jeffress is still there and is still under team control until 2020, so the Brew Crew might want to hold onto him as they attempt to put a competitive team back together. Even with arb raises increasing his cost over the next few years, he’s going to cost a lot less than trying to pay for anyone on the open market.

With just over an hour remaining, my sense is that the Cubs don’t make a move. Reddick, Bruce, and Carlos Beltran are all off the market at this point and I just don’t see them moving the pieces necessary to acquire an additional starting pitcher. They’ve done pretty well so far and I think they’re gonna dance with the girl that brung ’em. Of course, that still means some hard decisions regarding the roster. Between Soler, TLS, Grimm, and Trevor Cahill, you’ve got four guys who can come back up and only one spot open.

I’m thinking Coghlan is DFA’ed for La Stella to create one of the two necessarily slots, but that still leaves us with another move. Can they conjure up an injury to Miggy Montero or David Ross to carry them through to September? Do they feel more confident in Joe Nathan than they do in Grimm (hmmm, it’s close) or Cahill (they’d better)? Or does the latter just stay in Iowa for the remainder of August while everything else gets shuffled into place? Answers are forthcoming.

And there’s the first answer. This pretty much signals that the Cubs won’t be making any moves prior to the deadline, since they don’t have a roster spot available any longer. Patton probably goes back down in favor of either Cahill or Grimm when the time comes, though you wonder whether time has run out on the former. The rest of the roster will fall into place before long, but feel free to speculate on that as you see fit.

So of course the Cubs did go out trade for Joe Smith after all, thus proving me wrong yet again. Yay!

There’s also this:


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