Chicago Cubs Lineup: Back in Action vs. Madison Bumgarner

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bleachernation.com 16 July, 2021 - 04:27pm 13 views

When is the MLB trade deadline?

Major League Baseball's trade deadline is approaching more quickly than usual. This year's deadline is set for 4 p.m. ET on Friday, July 30, or a day earlier than the traditional date. CBS sports.comMLB trade deadline 2021: Kris Bryant, Max Scherzer, Trevor Story among 21 top trade candidates

Who did the Cubs trade?

The Chicago Cubs have traded outfielder Joc Pederson to the Atlanta Braves in exchange for Bryce Ball, the teams announced on Thursday. In 73 games for Chicago this year, Pederson slashed .230/.300/.418 with 11 home runs and 39 RBIs. The AthleticCubs trade Joc Pederson to Braves for prospect Bryce Ball

Lukewarm Stove: Kimbrel, Davies, and the Padres, Mets-Cubs Smoke, Gallo and Schwarber, More

bleachernation.com 16 July, 2021 - 08:10pm

With the All-Star events and the Draft behind us, it is finally, totally, officially trade season. Most deals are likely still developing and will take until the deadline, itself, but we are officially past the point where a trade can be deemed unlikely simply for being too early. Brett got into the full slate of Cubs and the trade possibilities earlier, but there are also rumors to dig into.

With that in mind, some of the latest …

The latest from Sahadev Sharma and Patrick Mooney’s at The Athletic is something you’ll want to check out as kind of a backbone for what’s to come. The title says it: Cubs Trade Deadline Primer: What to Expect with Jed Hoyer in Sell Mode.

If you’re willing to read between the lines a bit, there’s some good insight into what we might expect over the next couple weeks. Unfortunately, I’m not so sure you’re going to like what you find. The write-up begins with an explanation of the Yu Darvish deal, citing his no-trade clause, the financial component, and the evolution of front offices that now cling to upper-level prospects as a reason why the Cubs weren’t able to get what they wanted: “Of course, Cubs president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer would’ve preferred to receive multiple Double-A prospects from a top-100 list in a Darvish deal.”

And that message seems to be parlayed into a broader lesson about what to expect between now and July 30th. Do not necessarily expect older, tip-top prospects in all trades. The best value might be among the younger, higher-risk ranks.

However, Sharma and Mooney are clear to point out that the timeline of whatever prospects the Cubs received for Darvish (or may get this offseason) does NOT need to mirror the timeline of the big league team returning to the postseason. For one, they have very little money committed to the future. And for another, those prospects can always be traded to supplement the big league roster.

It’s all very reasonable and logical, and that’s kind of what I hate about it.

As a somewhat-related aside, let me say this: With the minor leagues shrinking and a 180-man roster limit for the minor leagues, there are finite spaces in each organization, which must be a consideration when making a trade (h/t to Evan at Cubs Insider for starting to get into this concept). It’s easy to say just bring in whatever you can get in a trade, but doing so is necessarily displacing someone else from the organization. So it has to be a worthwhile prospect – or at least better than you perceive your lower-tier prospects to be.

There was one subtly specific rumor in that article, even if it appears innocuous on the surface:

“The Padres remain a team to watch coming out of the All-Star break because A.J. Preller is such an aggressive, unpredictable baseball executive and the Cubs have a wide range of players who could help San Diego compete in the rugged National League West.

Preller was involved in two Craig Kimbrel deals in 2015 …. “

That’s not nothing. Not from Mooney and Sharma.

Not only does the Padres GM have a history with (and a need for) Cubs closer Craig Kimbrel, he could probably also use a starting pitcher (something we’ve discussed previously with respect to former Padres starter Zach Davies). Throw in the fact that the Cubs and Padres got together on a deal this winter, which implies some extracurricular knowledge of each others’ systems and an ability to align on player value, and you’ve got some potential smoke. Just something to keep an eye on.

The Astros, Athletics, Red Sox, and Braves are also potential landing spots for Kimbrel, so far as we know. And he figures to net a haul.

I told you the Cubs were going to turn the trade market upside down, and now they have. Kind of.

The folks at MLB.com have come up with six different trade proposals for the Cubs including Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Javy Baez, Craig Kimbrel, and/or Andrew Chafin. They’re a bit odd.

Only one such proposal nets the Cubs a top-100 prospect: Anthony Rizzo and Andrew Chafin to the Yankees for Luke Voit (under control through 2024, to replace Rizzo) and the Yankees’ #4 prospect, shortstop Oswald Peraza, who’s a borderline top-100 prospect currently in Double-A.

Mark Feinsand ultimately has the Cubs saying no to this deal, though I’m not so sure that makes much sense. I think they’d probably be pretty lucky to land a legitimate big leaguer and a top-100 prospect already in Double-A for two months of Rizzo and Chafin, though I understand that Chafin, alone, could probably net you an interesting piece and that the Cubs might not want to trade Rizzo at all (unless he was seeking it).

It’s all very weird, though, because this might actually be the most attractive return among the proposals, and it doesn’t include the Cubs’ best reliever or position player. So whatever. It’s just interesting to read, if you’re into that sort of thing.

Michael Mayer is pretty tapped into the Mets’ world and he’s heard that the Cubs are scouting the Mets’ Low-A affiliate, with a special eye on two of their top-15 prospects:

Sources: Cubs scouting the St. Lucie Mets heavily right now. Utility man Jaylen Palmer and right-handed starter J.T. Ginn are two names they like.

— Michael Mayer (@mikemayer22) July 9, 2021

Palmer, 20, is a big, power-first (well, in theory) infielder with good athleticism and an above-average arm. He’s expected to outgrow shortstop, but can play pretty much all over. He is currently slashing .268/.380/.358; 14.4 BB%, 27.9K% (110 wRC+) in his first attempt at A-Ball. He is the Mets #12 prospect according to MLB.com.

Ginn, 22, was the Mets’ second round pick last season, but he got first-round money ($2.9M signing bonus) and is currently their #6 overall prospect. He is recovering from the Tommy John surgery he got just before the draft, which explains his odd route to first-round money and pedigree (he was actually ranked as the 23rd best prospect in the 2020 draft). Landing Ginn would be pretty exciting.

But for whom would these prospects be traded? Well, the Bryant/Mets rumors go back a while, and you couldn’t rule that out, though rumors have New York also interested in an innings-eating starting pitcher they could file in behind their big three (your brain goes to Zach Davies, but he’s more of a short-start, good-results guy, not so much an innings-eater).

However, the Mets are about to get J.D. Davis back (tomorrow) while Carlos Carrasco is beginning is rehab assignment tonight. If those returns appear imminent and positively impactful, the Mets’ urgency to deal for either/both could recede. Or at least that’s what they’d tell you at the negotiating table. Just something to keep an eye on.

•   Danny Duffy (trade) and Cole Hamels (free agency) could be competition for the Cubs’ efforts to trade Zach Davies this offseason, especially because Hamels will cost only money. With that said, this is a pitching-hungry market and Davies is quietly having a LOT of success since the beginning of May. I suspect if the Cubs want to trade him, they’ll get a fair price.

•   The Red Sox were involved in the starting market, as well, but Chris Sale should be coming back soon and maybe quite strong, which would change things:

Chris Sale is throwing 97 mph in his post-TJS ramp up in the minors. So, I'd say the Red Sox are probably going to get a really nice infusion later this year. https://t.co/g1bPjRNlfg

— Bleacher Nation (@BleacherNation) July 15, 2021

•   Rangers outfielder Joey Gallo (.403 OBP, 24 HRs at the All-Star break) is having the best season of his career and is wholly available in trade. The Padres and Yankees have reportedly shown interest so far, and I bring that up not because Joc Pederson (a lefty outfielder like Gallo) or Kris Bryant (a better offensive comp, who can play all three outfield spots) are perfect alternatives, but they are both theoretically available and so the Yankees and Padres should probably be considered theoretical destinations.

•   There’s another left-handed corner outfielder drawing interest from the Yankees, however, and that’s Kyle Schwarber. The Yankees are seeking some left-handed balance for their lineup and if you recall, they had been trying to pry Schwarber away from the Cubs for years. But Schwarber is on the shelf with a hamstring injury, and also the Nationals are borderline competitive, so I would call it a “watch” situation.

Michael Cerami covers the Chicago Cubs, Bears, and Bulls at Bleacher Nation. You can find him on Twitter @Michael_Cerami

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Kimbrel, Bryant and Cubs' other top trade chips

NBC Sports Chicago 16 July, 2021 - 08:10pm

Less than a month ago, the Cubs were primed to be buyers at MLB’s July 30 trade deadline. They held a share of first place in the NL Central entering June 14 and sat a season-high 11 games above .500 (38-27).

One 11-game losing streak, and 6-19 stretch later, they’re in sell-mode.

“It’s a very different scenario than we expected,” team president Jed Hoyer said last Thursday. “Life comes at you fast.”

With a number of players in walk years, the Cubs roster is chock full of potential rentals for contending clubs.

Here’s a look at some of the Cubs’ top trade chips.

Need an elite closer to lock down the ninth inning down the stretch and in October? Look no further than Kimbrel, in the midst of a resurgent season on the North Side.

Kimbrel, 33, just made his eighth career All-Star team behind a dominant first half. He’s allowed two earned runs in 31 2/3 innings, converting 20 saves (fifth in MLB) in 22 chances. His 15.35 strikeouts per nine is third among relievers (minimum 30 innings).

Kimbrel could be the missing piece in a contender’s bullpen — and more than a rental. His contract includes a $16 million vesting option for 2022 that becomes a club option, if it doesn’t vest.

Bryant’s name isn’t new to trade rumors. He’s been a fixture in them the last several years, including this past offseason. 

Like Kimbrel, Bryant has put together a big bounce-back season in 2021. He’s been the Cubs’ top hitter, slashing .271/.353/.502 with 16 home runs while making his fourth All-Star team.

Not only is Bryant a big bat, but he’s a versatile defender, starting 10+ games at five positions this season — third and first base, and all three outfield spots. That only increases his market, if not the return the Cubs could get for him. 

Bryant, who’s set to hit free agency this winter, is the Cubs’ No. 1 trade chip among their position players, if not overall. 

From a value standpoint, Báez brings a lot to the table, especially for a team that could use an upgrade defensively. He’s electric in the field, winning a Gold Glove at shortstop last season. He has plenty of experience at second base and played third earlier in his career.

Báez is a free swinger and leads MLB in strikeouts. He also has a powerful bat — his 21 home runs are 12th in MLB and his 56 RBIs rank 20th — and would beef up any team’s middle of the order. 

Báez is one of the Cubs' bigger trade chips, but he’s a fan favorite and has talked about how he wants to stay with the Cubs. So has Anthony Rizzo, the face of the franchise and another trade chip.

Teams have been interested in Contreras in recent winters, including the Marlins this past offseason, and for good reason. As far as pure value goes, he could be as high as anyone on this list. 

Contreras is as well-rounded a catcher as any in the game. He controls the running game, has significantly improved his framing and is a good hitter. He’s an established leader in the clubhouse and under club control at a good price through 2022.

However, those are all good reasons for the Cubs to hang on to him and extend him to be part of their core for years to come. 

Whether the Cubs would even consider trading Contreras may depend on if there's urgent demand for him.

As a lefty reliever who’s having a career year, Chafin is a fit for any contender. He’s been right there with Kimbrel among the best relievers in baseball this season.

Chafin’s 1.42 ERA is sixth among relievers, minimum 30 innings. He’s been lights out the last three months, allowing one earned run in 30 appearances since April 26. His current 23-inning scoreless streak is the longest by any reliever this season.

Chafin’s contract has a $5.25 million mutual option for 2022, or $500K buyout, so it’s possible he would be a two-month rental in the event of a trade.

Pederson has had an up-and-down season. After a slow start in April, he hit well in May before having a down June — like the Cubs' offense overall.

Pederson joined the Cubs on a one-year, prove-it deal that has given him the chance to play every day. Historically, he's mashed right-handed pitching and struggled against lefties.

This season, he's hit better against southpaws, although all 11 of his home runs have come off right-handers. His track record could attract contenders looking to boost their offense against right-handed pitching. He has a mutual option for 2022.

Zach Davies is set to hit free agency this winter and starting pitching is in high demand. He's been solid since May (3.05 ERA, 14 starts) and is a veteran arm who could be affordable as a rental.

Jake Marisnick has plenty of postseason experience from his time with the Astros and is a quality defender in the outfield.

You can never have enough good relievers. Outside of a recent stretch, Ryan Tepera has been one of the game's best this season.

3 best theoretical Kris Bryant trades for Cubs, ranked

ClutchPoints 16 July, 2021 - 08:10pm

Let’s open this conversation by stating the obvious: things aren’t going well for the NL Central’s Chicago Cubs and Kris Bryant.

After the Cubs spent more than a month at the top of the division, the 2016 World Series champions wrecked their floor routine with tumble after tumble — going from 1.5 games up on Milwaukee, St. Louis, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh on June 3, to 9 1/2 games back of the division crown 35 days later.

It was an expeditious retreat brought along by a 2-12 finish in the 14 games leading up to the 2021 All-Star Game, including an 11-game losing streak to the Los Angeles Dodgers, Brewers, Reds and Philadelphia Phillies. Five of the defeats came in one-run affairs, and with an aging roster and some bloated contracts, selling mode has begun.

One would think Kris Bryant’s name would be absent from the rumor mill’s constant grinding of trade speculation. The homegrown talent is having a superb 2021 campaign with the Cubs despite not seeing a contract extension in the offseason, and the 2015 NL Rookie of the Year and 2016 MLB MVP did everything to erase Chicago’s miserable championship history.

Longtime sportscaster Joe Buck, seeing what is happening with the Cubs, couldn’t refrain from peppering Bryant with a tough angle at the ASG, which apparently (and, maybe rightfully) ruffled Bryant’s father.

Bryant, of course, handled things with grace:

“Right now, I’ve still got the ‘Cubs’ on my chest and I’m proud of that,” Bryant said. “I’m proud to play for such an unbelievable city. Until they tell me I’m not, I’ll go out there and give it all I’ve got.”

The Cubs showed at least part of their hand on Thursday night, when officials announced that OF Joc Pederson — a coveted offseason acquisition — was on the move for Atlanta Braves 1B Bryce Ball.

The #Cubs today acquired minor league 1B Bryce Ball from the Braves for OF Joc Pederson. pic.twitter.com/cy3W5dqWXn

— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) July 16, 2021

Does this mean Bryant is still untouchable? Or is he among the stalwarts who could fetch a pretty price?

Drafted second overall in the 2013 MLB Amateur Draft out of the University of San Diego, Bryant makes $19.5 million this season for the Cubs before becoming an unrestricted free agent this winter. A versatile star who could play 1B, 3B or OF for any team in the majors, he’s still not even 30 — meaning there’s likely another decade of good baseball left in his tank.

According to spotrac.com’s metrics, Bryant’s arbitration and market value sits at roughly a 7-year/$203 million contract based on skill and the rest of the league’s depth at third base. That’s $29 million a season, or in layman’s terms, a contract the Cubs can ill-afford (unless, you know, the front office suddenly makes him a priority).

If Bryant is even remotely on the market, Cubs brass must…MUST…get an equitable, hefty return before considering any trade of a true cornerstone. They must also attack some considerable deficiencies, most of which involve a lack of youth (average age: 29.2), intrepid hitting (team batting average: .227) and pitching depth in the starting rotation.

Because of Bryant’s incredible versatility, one must assume that any team supposedly buying at the trade deadline — set for July 30 — could muster up an offer. That means anyone that’s contending could make a play. The Boston Red Sox, Tampa Bay Rays, Houston Astros, Oakland Athletics, Seattle Mariners, Los Angeles Angels, New York Mets, Philadelphia Phillies, San Francisco Giants, Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres are all currently positioned for division crowns and/or wild-card entries. And that’s not even opening up Pandora’s Box and allowing the Chicago White Sox — crosstown rivals of the Cubs — or a potentially interested NL Central team into the mix. Bryant in a Brewers uniform? A Reds uniform? No way. (Or…way?)

Should the small-market Athletics dole out three of their top four farm prospects — a lefty in Puk, a middle infielder in Allen and a righty in Jefferies — for what could be a half-season rental of Bryant from the Cubs? Especially when they already have a healthy and solid third baseman in Matt Chapman?

The short answer is “yes.” The long answer is a little more complicated.

Sporting News writer Ryan Fagan listed the A’s as the second-best destination for Bryant, and for some strong reasons. If he’s not at third base or in the OF rotation, he can DH in the American League. It gets him back to California, where he was murdering baseballs by his junior season at San Diego. And it provides Oakland with a much-needed swing to keep pace with the Astros, Mariners and Angels — who are all playing better than .500 baseball in the last 10 games.

Allen is currently hitting .308 through 49 games of AA ball with the Midland RockHounds, and would give the Cubs another middle-man if longtime gap-stopper Javier Baez is among those who get extricated from his spot at Wrigley Field. This could be a win-win move.

Joe Girardi, who once played with the Cubs, is now the manager in Philadelphia. His Phillies are 44-44 and just 3.5 games out of the first-place Mets. And, sure, they just made a significant deal with the Atlanta Braves, who are trying to stay in contention despite the loss of megastar Ronald Acuna, Jr.

But the “City of Brotherly Love” needs some help right now. Its everyday third baseman, young star Alec Bohm, is on the 10-day IL. Centerfielder Odubel Herrera is also on the 10-day IL. Leftfielder Andrew McCutchen, though still sensational, is 34 years old. These are spots Bryant becomes a plug-and-play, without question.

Oh, and putting him alongside superstar outfielder Bryce Harper — one of his close friends — would be neat-o, burrito. The Cubs could make this happen.

Bryant has reportedly stated that Harper was very interested in joining the Cubs before signing with the Phillies on a 13-year/$330 million megadeal.

My, how the tables have turned for the Cubs. With Harper clearly locked in to the Phillies for the foreseeable future, trading for Bryant could yield a long-term deal in the offseason — keeping Philadelphia out of the rental business.

So what’s the price? Four of the Phillies’ top 10 prospects are pitchers (Mick Abel, Francisco Morales, Erik Miller, Adonis Medina), while a young farm shortstop could also fit well in the deal.

The tough part here is that Philadelphia already owns the fifth-largest payroll in MLB, meaning a move with the Cubs for Bryant only makes the burden heavier. But it would thwart the Mets, who reportedly are showing active, engaged interest.

Mets are among multiple teams with interest in Kris Bryant, whose versatility makes him a fit for many

— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) July 16, 2021

In this Thanos-inspired trade — where chaos is quieted by swift balance and silence — the Chicago Cubs should inexplicably work a deal with their in-town, market rivals. After all, the White Sox are hurtling toward a World Series ring, and would like nothing more than a utility star who all but assures a death lineup for the 2021 MLB playoffs.

I mean, seriously. Imagine having to face Yoan Moncada, Tim Anderson, Jose Abreu, Yasmani Grandal, Yermin Mercedes and Bryant all in the same stretch — assuming none of those names would be part of the deal. Add in the possible healthy return of young phenoms Eloy Jiminez and Luis Robert, and, well, it’s hard to stop laughing to keep typing these words on the Cubs and Sox.

It feels like pitching wouldn’t matter, and that’s a place the White Sox don’t need help anyway.

The Astros (.269, first) and Red Sox (.259, third), two potential ALCS opponents, both hit better than the White Sox (.257, fourth) — and Bryant could be wielding a World-Series-winning bat.

Do you deal prospects for what would almost certainly be a rental, unless Bryant and his family really just want to stay in Chicago? Absolutely. Do you deal a young arm, too? Maybe RP Codi Heuer, or 25-year-old SP Dylan Cease? The White Sox couldn’t do that, could they?

Copyright © ClutchPoints. Partner of iOne Digital / Cassius Network.

Cub Tracks’ center cuts

Bleed Cubbie Blue 16 July, 2021 - 08:10pm

Thank you to @Kimbrel46 and @KrisBryant_23 for representing us in Colorado! #AllStarGame pic.twitter.com/MYf3QZh0wZ

Kris Bryant wouldn’t mind being a Dale Murphy, which is interesting. I’ve long thought corner outfield is his future, but I’ve no complaint there. Jake Marisnick might... also, in news out of left field, maybe the Cubs will pony up for Nick Castellanos, who has an opt-out and clearly enjoyed his time in Chicago? The Cubs could give him whatever money they were earmarking for Joc Pederson, who has seemed to be a Spring Training flash so far. I mean, if there is a 2022 season, which is still up in the air. Bryant also said he’s proud to wear Cubbie blue.

That and some interesting draft coverage comprise part of today’s offerings as the beats and bloggers had a busy day. I tried to save the best of the best of or at least a representative selection so as not to have 1,500 words to read before clicking or to occupy the department of redundancy department. As always, * means autoplay on, or annoying ads, or both (directions to remove for Firefox and Chrome). {$} means paywall. {$} means limited views. Italics are often used on this page as sarcasm font. (In the comments section, use @ before and after your remarks @ to produce sarcasm font. In the text body. It doesn’t work in the headlines.)

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