After the stunning trade of Andrelton Simmons to the Angels, it is clear the Braves are in full-fledged rebuilding mode. The two teams have matched up twice, both involving Arodys Vizcaino. The first Vizcaino deal came on the heels of an infamously botched trade of Ryan Dempster for Randall Delgado. So there is some rapport there. The Braves have shown a willingness to negotiate fair value trades.
That said, who might the Cubs target?
Well, we know the Cubs have been targeting young, cost-controlled pitching and we have heard Julio Teheran's name come up but another target could be Shelby Miller, a pitcher the Cubs have shown some interest in in the past. Miller does not become a free agent until after the 2018 season, so there would be 3 years of control, making him a good fit with Jake Arrieta and Jon Lester.
Miller had a breakout season of sorts with the Braves, posting a 3.4 WAR season on the strength of a 3.45 FIP. Miller can throw in the mid 90s and adds a cutter, CB, and change to go with average command. He would profile as a #3 starter with the potential to be more if the command improves.
As for what it would cost, there has been speculation that the Braves covet Jorge Soler, which potentially leaves a hole unless the Cubs are willing to move Bryant to RF and Javier Baez to 3B. We should also note that the Braves just traded a young star shortstop, so they may be looking for a replacement, though shortstop Ozhaino Albies is the team's top position player prospect in what is a strong system overall.
Another option would be to have Nick Markakis included in the deal as a potential OF replacement. Markakis fits as a left-handed OBP/high contact type (10.2% walk rate/12.1% K rate, .370 OBP in 2015) and could conceivably bat leadoff. Markakis was once considered a very good defender with a strong arm, but the defensive metrics have not been kind since the 2010 season. The lack of power is also a concern with Markakis, though power isn't something the Cubs lack. He is also reputed to be a strong clubhouse presence, something the Cubs seem to value highly.
The remaining contract (3 years/$33M) is reasonable for a contending team, though probably a burden on a rebuilding team like the Braves. For the Cubs, it's not an ideal solution but it is not a terribly costly one and, as we have said, an ideal solution probably does not exist at this point.
Of course, Miller (or Teheran) would be the prize in any potential deal with the Braves.
Other News and Notes
- Free Agent/Trade Prediction Contest: Thanks to Tim (Breaking the Curse) for setting up a Google Doc spreadsheet with all the predictions for this offseason. Here is a link to that sheet.
- In a Patrick Mooney piece, Theo Epstein talks the offseason and the temptation to build a super team over the next two years, but he seems to be leaning toward keeping a balance and opening the window longer. One thing seems certain, don't expect the Cubs to get tunnel vision and locked into a situation where they "must have" a certain player. I look for them to explore all options until they stop making sense. And some of those options will stop making sense rather quickly.
- I still wonder if the best compromise on the market -- should the Cubs go that way -- may be Jordan Zimmerman, who will cost about $100M less than David Price and potentially gives the Cubs a top 3 starter, perhaps more.
- There is still the possibility that the Cubs big money expenditure on pitching is an extension for Jake Arrieta.
- Of course, the Cubs will have interest in Ben Zobrist, but they'l have to get in line. Zobrist fits the Cubs in terms of the type of hitter they lack and also in terms off the kind of flexibility they want to have on their roster.
- It appears that Davey Martinez is out as a candidate for the Dodgers job. That is good news for Joe Maddon and the Cubs.
- Look for upcoming pieces on Jeimer Candelario and Rob Zastryzny on Northsiders Report/Scout.com.
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