The Rundown: Lots of Deadline Questions Without Concrete Answers, Expectations High Bryant Will Be Traded, Brewers Land Shortstop, AL Contenders Improve Via Big Trades
“Sundown, you better take care if I find you been creeping round my back stairs.” – Gordon Lightfoot, Sundown
Despite a flurry of trades by other teams, the Cubs have made it to the final game of their homestand with their core intact. That could change by the afternoon, but with tomorrow’s 3pm CT trade deadline looming ever larger, today may be the last home game for Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, and Javier Báez as Chicago’s trio of leaders. None may be traded because it’s been tough to gauge just exactly what teams are willing to give up for veteran rentals. That said, it’s likely we’re sitting on the precipice of a trading frenzy that could see one or more of the core leaving the Cubs.
The North Siders certainly played like they are resigned to a fate of separation, losing 8-2 to the Reds last night in one of the more lifeless performances of the season. The best thing you can say about the game was that Zach Davies looked decent enough that he didn’t hurt his trade value. A market should exist for the veteran starter and Jed Hoyer should take whatever he can get for Davies. The fact that the organization is stretching out Keegan Thompson and Justin Steele to become starters is probably a precursor to a modified post-deadline rotation.
As trade deadline approaches, Cubs bracing for changehttps://t.co/4iqF6GdZ94
— Tony Andracki (@TonyAndracki23) July 28, 2021
For Bryant, the rumors continue to fly. He’s been linked to the Mets, Giants, Rays, Phillies, Dodgers, and Padres at some point, and he’s handled all the innuendo as well as can be expected. It looks like Rizzo has just one potential suitor, and with a limited market, it’s probably not worth trading the first baseman to the Red Sox for what will likely be a paltry return. It goes without saying that Rizzo is probably more important to the Cubs than he would be to any other organization.
In all likelihood, Báez will not be traded and could be extended before the season ends. Though no known active negotiations are taking place, the shortstop has placed no deadline on contract talks. That window, along with whatever payroll Hoyer pares in the next 30 or so hours, could be a two-headed driving force toward reaching a new deal.
So what should we expect today and tomorrow? Craig Kimbrel will most certainly be dealt and Ryan Tepera should be in high demand, too. The jury is still out on Bryant and Rizzo. Davies will likely be moved, Kyle Hendricks and Willson Contreras are the wild cards. By Friday night, Nico Hoerner could be the new face of the Cubs.
We also know that Jason Heyward isn’t going anywhere and the silly notion suggested by many to attach his contract to any potential Kimbrel trade would hurt the Cubs more than help them. Why limit the return for your best trade chip, especially if the Ricketteses won’t spend the $50 million-plus they’d save by offing that bloated contract?
Cubs News & Notes
- This writer suggests Hoyer could acquire Joey Bart from the Giants if he includes Hendricks in Bryant’s potential deal. Okay then.
- Hoerner left yesterday’s game with an oblique injury.
- There really isn’t anything else concrete to post in this section. The Cubs lost, the rumors are either too far-fetched to believe or completely played out, and everybody is on the edge of their seats waiting for Hoyer’s next big move.
Odds & Sods
Twitter commentary from baseball insiders in the know indicates today could be a helluva day as far as player movement surrounding the Cubs. Keep checking in here at Cubs Insider for all the breaking news.
The #SFGiants are well-positioned to add a bat, and sources say they remain engaged on the Trevor Story and Kris Bryant trade possibilities. Today's events help the Giants' leverage, since the #Yankees (known to have interest in Story) are working to finalize the Gallo deal. @MLB
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) July 29, 2021
Climbing the Ladder
“This used to be my playground… This used to be my childhood dream. This used to be the place I ran to…” – Madonna, This Used to Be My Playground
- Games Played: 103
- Total Plate Appearances: 3,783
- Total Strikeouts: 982
- Strikeout Rate: 25.9%
- Team Batting Average: .227
It will be interesting to see what the Cubs roster looks like when they return to Wrigley Field to play the White Sox on August 6. Of note, the team’s strikeout rate has dropped substantially since Hoerner and Matt Duffy have returned to the lineup.
How About That!
Nationals’ ace Max Scherzer is baseball’s biggest prize ahead of tomorrow’s deadline. He’s also one of the bigger risks.
Washington GM Mike Rizzo indicated he is “excited to attack” this year’s trade deadline.
The Phillies play a key doubleheader against the Nationals today and the outcome will determine if they are buyers or sellers.
The Marlins traded outfielder Starling Marte to the A’s for Jesús Luzardo and also moved relief pitcher Yimi García to the Astros for outfielder Bryan De La Cruz and right-hander Austin Pruitt.
The Yankees acquired Joey Gallo from the Rangers for a boatload of prospects with high upside. As of this writing, the trade has yet to be finalized.
It was a bold move for the Bronx Bombers, who are essentially betting the farm on Gallo.
The Brewers added All-Star infielder Eduardo Escobar in a trade with the Diamondbacks. I would say the White Sox are now all-in on Trea Turner.
The Twins are getting plenty of calls for No. 1 starter José Berríos.
White Sox starter Lucas Giolitio vowed to be more ace-like in the second half of the season, and so far he’s delivered.
Eloy Jiménez was forced to leave yesterday’s game due to groin tightness. The White Sox outfielder just returned from the IL there days ago after missing the first 100 games of the season.
Prediction That Won’t Come True: The South Siders acquire Bryant, Kimbrel, and Hendricks for the entire lot of their No. 20 through 30 prospects and win the World Series. Cubs fans immediately hang Hoyer in effigy.
Wednesday’s Three Stars
None of them did anything significant yesterday, but I just wanted to recognize their contributions to the organization since each arrived. Here’s hoping all three are still Cubs tomorrow evening.
I don’t think even the most pessimistic of fans expected production this awful from Heyward. The sky was the limit as a Braves’ rookie. This year, we’re still looking for the offensive floor.
Heyward’s slash line: .198/.275/.329, .269 wOBA, 67 wRC+
Jason Heyward homering in his first career at-bat was an electric moment. pic.twitter.com/0nElzWKPxD
— MLB Vault (@MLBVault) February 20, 2021
They Said It
- “Some of this stuff is just exhausting. It really is. And I’m just trying to do my best to keep my focus where it needs to be and help whoever I can along the way here and just take everything in stride. And whatever happens, it’s out of my control.” – Kris Bryant
- “Sometimes the narrative out there has never been right, and it’s been frustrating for me to see some of that. But deep down in my heart, I know I’ve had some of the best memories here and the best times in my life. It’d be really stupid of me not to say hey, if they wanted me here, of course, I’m always going to listen because Chicago is a special place to me.” – Bryant
- “I’m constantly working on the mental aspects of this game and I’ve never even come close to mastering or perfecting it. But it’s always a challenge and there’s always something new, whether it’s trade talk or you sucking playing baseball or something off the field or just a bunch of worries or the future or the past — all that stuff pops in your head.” – Bryant
- “You can’t just think about [the trade rumors] nonstop because then you’ll go crazy. Then it takes away from what you do on the field.” – Bryant
He certainly sounds like a guy who doesn’t want to leave.
Thursday Walk-Up Song
Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now by the Smiths – Okay, admittedly a little overboard. I’ll be at the game today, but it’s tough to get excited about the Cubs’ post-deadline team. I’ll need some time to adjust to waiting on the minor league studs.