There has been a distinct lack of Cubs-related rumors the past 10 days or so, but with 16 days remaining until the non-waiver deadline things will hopefully start to pick up. There are several teams actively seeking relief help, such as the Braves and Angels, which is actually one area the Cubs could afford to deal from depth. For once, the Cubs actually have too many viable lefties in the bullpen with James Russell and Wesley Wright performing well in the majors and Zac Rosscup waiting at AAA. With the big league club frequently sporting an eight man pen and relievers such as Blake Parker, Arodys Vizcaino and Armando Rivero ready to come up, I wouldn't be surprised to see the Cubs move both a RH and LH reliever this deadline.
With Emilio Bonafacio close to returning from injury and Arismendy Alcantara doing his best to avoid the return bus to Iowa, the Cubs could also look to move a middle infielder, such as Bonifcaio, Darwin Barney or even Luis Valbuena. I think that is also the order of likeliness to be traded, since it is doubtful the Cubs could acquire full value for Valbuena or any real value for Barney.
The last area where the Cubs could make a trade is from their stockpile of reserve outfielders, some of whom are unfortunately starters on the Cubs. Recent solid performances by Chris Coughlan and Justian Ruggiano has likely increased their value, while both Nate Schierholtz and Ryan Sweeney would be solid reserve OFers on a playoff team. However, I don't expect any of these players to provide a return of any note, though bundling one of them with a bullpen arm could bump up the Cubs return a little. So while the Cubs probably do not have any major moves left, there are still some pieces likely to be moved in order to make room for new faces from Iowa.
- Following the acquisition of Addison Russell, there was rampant speculation that the Cubs would look to move Starlin Castro, with the Mets as a likely trade partner. However, David Lennon of Newsday reports that the Cubs will not trade Castro this year and that he could be the Cubs starting third basemen in 2015.
- Lennon also notes that Javier Baez "could be dangled in trade discussions" if the Cubs do look to trade one of their shortstops. As much as I would hate to see Baez go, I do think he is the most likely of the three to get traded. With Castro already signed to a reasonable deal long-term and Russell the best defensive player of the three, I think they are safer options for the Cubs. Baez has unquestionably the highest ceiling of the three offensively, but his approach makes him the least likely to reach their potential. However, I would be very surprised to see any of them moved this season and would expect the Cubs FO to take their time evaluating Russell before making any trades.
- Adam Rubin of ESPN NY echoes these reports and writes that the Mets are looking to upgrade at shortstop long-term. In his blog, Rubin refers to Baez as "a realistic target" for the Mets. With the Mets well stocked with pitching prospects and needing a shortstop, I'm sure we will continue to hear these types of links to the Cubs for the foreseeable future. One industry source told us here at Cubs Den, "With Castro, Baez is trade bait for a stud arm and above average position player."
- Not at all trade related, but Jon Sickels of Minorleagueball.com released his mid-season Top 75 prospect list today with Kris Bryant in the top spot. Bryant ranked #12 on Sickels' pre-season list, but "I think he’s done enough to rank number one." The Cubs are well-represented on this list with Russell (#5), Baez (#15), Jorge Soler (#24), Alcantara (#34), and Albert Almora (#57) all making the cut. In addition, C.J. Edwards, Pierce Johnson, and Billy McKinney all made the "Others Considered" list.
- (Mike) Yesterday, word broke that David Price is intrigued by coming to Chicago as a free agent, "You could take that all the way to a last-place team like the Cubs. With the talent they have coming up they could be a very special team in a few years as well. That would probably be the coolest city to win a championship in." Clearly, this is an interesting possibility. The Cubs would (presumably) have significant money to sign him and he has shown a desire to play here, not an insignificant thing. The industry source quoted above also said that Baez could potentially be traded straight up for Price in the offseason. When asked if the velocity drop was a concern, he said, "All velocity tends to go down, his issue is just needs to rest...I think even pro pitchers need to sit 8-12 weeks now a days." Further, Price has shown this year that he is capable of pitching with decreased velocity, putting up some of the strongest peripherals of his career. This is worth monitoring in the weeks and months ahead.
- (John): Another industry source told me the price for Price may be higher than just Baez. it could cost the Cubs Starlin Castro and one of their big time hitting prospects.