Jon Heyman joined 670 The Score’s Mully & Haugh Monday morning for his weekly segment, which wasn’t tremendously exciting or informative given the state of Chicago’s baseball teams. The White Sox have been incredibly disappointing and the Cubs are just plain bad, so all that’s really left to talk about at this point is the trade deadline. For the Cubs, that could well mean another round of moves that strips almost all remaining ties to their 2016 title.
Though Willson Contreras has gotten the most publicity and Ian Happ rumors are gaining steam due to his strong play, pitching is heavily prized this time of year. That means Kyle Hendricks could be on the way out, especially if the Cubs want to get younger and don’t see themselves competing in the immediate future. With just one more guaranteed year at $14 million and a $16 million club option for 2024 that features a $1.5 million buyout, there should be interest in the 32-year-old righty.
“Yeah, I do think so,” Heyman answered when asked whether Hendricks could be on the move. “I mean, even when he was going poorly for most of this year I thought teams would be interested in Kyle Hendricks. He’s certainly reliable, he’s one of the few pitchers who never seems to be hurt and he does have it in him, obviously we’ve seen it in the past.
“There’s a lot of need for starting pitching all around baseball, so I do expect that there will be a market for Hendricks. I put him on that list with (David) Robertson, Contreras, and the other Cubs players who will be out there in the market and be pursued by other teams.”
Not among those players, at least in Heyman’s estimation, is Marcus Stroman. Though the Cubs signed the former Blue Jay and Met to a very reasonable three-year, $71 million deal just before the owners implemented a lockout last December, Stroman has made only nine starts and is still on the IL with right shoulder inflammation.
Though his strikeout and walk rates are better than his career marks, the 31-year-old has given up more homers than usual and his 5.32 ERA is well above expectations. He won’t have a chance to hit a $2 million salary escalator that kicks in at 160 innings, though, and his deal has an opt-out after the ’23 season. Even with that potential for solid value without a lengthy commitment, Heyman pulled no punches in explaining why he believes Stroman will remain in Chicago
“I think at this point they’d be very fortunate if he was able to come back and show that he’s worth trading,” Heyman said. “I think — you mentioned it was a reasonable contract — the reason it was a reasonable contract is that not many teams wanted him. And now with the shoulder question, I don’t think there’s gonna be anybody who wants him.
“I’m sorry. That was rather harsh of me, I felt bad after that one.”
Even with the apology there at the end, that response felt a little personal. Stroman has always been very outspoken and there are some in the media with whom he’s butted heads in the past, particularly during his time with the Mets, so a little harshness might not have been entirely innocent. Then again, it’s impossible to deny the truth at the heart of what Heyman is saying.
Stroman hasn’t pitched very well when he’s been healthy enough to take the mound and there isn’t much time left before the deadline for him to prove he’s back to full strength ahead of the deadline. What’s more, the Cubs shouldn’t be in any hurry to move him because the timing doesn’t really make sense in terms of either his trade value or his potential to help the rotation in the future.
At the time of the deal, it seemed as though his arrival was a harbinger of bigger and better things to come. The same could be said for Seiya Suzuki, who was presumably sold on the idea of helping to build a winner on the North Side. Neither player was viewed as a savior or anything close, but signing them indicated the Cubs were going to make another, bigger move to put them over the top. Instead, those two were the marquee deals of the offseason and now both have spent much of the year on the IL.
So what initially looked like presumably the start of building back some sort of core is going to end up as a lost season that may see more to follow depending on what happens at the deadline. Super fun stuff.