News regarding the Cubs and their activity in the market has slowed down over the last 24 hours or so, which suggests to me that they’ve hunkered down in the war room for the remainder of the pre-waiver trading period.
Despite reports that their interest in Alex Avila was overblown, Jon Morosi reported Sunday afternoon that talks between the Cubs and Tigers for the catcher are ongoing. Jerry Crasnick added that the Tigers were likely to be active, but that they probably won’t announce anything today.
This still feels more like idle chatter, unless the Tigers are really looking to get whatever they can and are willing to take less for Avila than they’d initially hoped for. He’s had a great offensive season, but his numbers at the plate are way down over the last month or so. The Cubs are said to be looking for a defense-first backup, though Avila isn’t a butcher back there. One way or the other, I’d be shocked if we don’t see a new catcher in town by the deadline.
It’s looking more and more as though the Cubs will be out of the running for any of the available starting pitchers. The Yankees have taken over as strong favorites to land Sonny Gray, and a rental pitcher really isn’t a viable option, particularly not one like Yu Darvish who will command a big return (Mystery Team alert!). Then you’ve got Jon Heyman’s report that it’d take a “miracle” for Justin Verlander to be traded.
But am I the only one who still kinda feels like something could happen there? Probably just my desire to see something I openly pined for come to pass.
The Cubs may well add an arm, though it’s more likely to be a reliever. Zach Britton has been named as a possibility, though the cost to acquire him — said to be between what Aroldis Chapman and Andrew Miller commanded last year — is prohibitive. The Astros are reportedly the most serious suitors for the O’s closer, though the Dodgers remain active in conversations as well. For the Cubs’ sake, I hope the latter doesn’t pan out. A back end that features Britton and Kenley Jansen effectively shortens games to 7 innings.
Brad Hand is another coveted lefty reliever, one whose price was reportedly dropping as the deadline neared. However, after tweeting that the San Diego was “no longer seeking top-tier prospects” for Hand, Crasnick backtracked and said the Padres “haven’t moved on inch” on their ask. Opposing clubs were said to be offering prospects in the 15-20 range (in terms of organizational ranking), but that wasn’t enough.
Hand is making less than $1.4 million and has two more years of control, so the contract has value beyond just his performance. Though he’s not on par with Britton or the Tigers’ Justin Wilson, Hand could be Plan B for the Astros, Dodgers, Nats, or others in the market for relievers. Hey, that could be the Cubs.
We’ve reached the point where attrition is going to start taking its toll as teams wait each other out. It’s possible that some of these sellers could hold onto their pitchers, but then they risk losing value in terms of cost-control and/or health. I don’t see the Cubs being active in the upper echelon of bullpen arms, though they could pursue someone like Hand if the more aggressive teams pick up bigger names.
More to come over the next day, that’s for sure.