The Cubs could make another minor move before the deadline at 4 p.m. EST on July 31st, but I think they are set. They addressed starting pitching, adding a World Series champion in Cole Hamels. Jesse Chavez has done well out of the bullpen so far with the Cubs and could start if Joe Maddon needed him to. Also, don’t forget about Drew Smyly who the Cubs signed this offseason. He is still recovering from Tommy John surgery that made him miss the entire 2017 campaign, but is expected to join the bullpen in early August.
Despite my belief, multiple MLB reporters do not think the Cubs are done quite yet. Even Joe Maddon is not putting it past Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer to bring in a new face. “ I would not be surprised if we did make a move, Maddon said after Saturday nights game. Knowing Theo and Jed and how we operate, I’m certain they’re still looking into different things.”
I’m sure they are. The Cubs do not have any glaring holes, but another arm in the bullpen doesn’t hurt, especially in September when it’s time to give regular guys a rest. A few names have been connected to the Cubs in the past 24 hours. So let’s look at a few names and see if they make sense for the Cubs.
RHP Ryan Tepera, Blue Jays
670 The Score baseball writer Bruce Levine wrote on Monday that the Cubs are still eyeing bullpen help ahead of the deadline. I know, it’s reporting the obvious but he brought up two names that could be coming to the North Side.
Blue Jays reliever Ryan Tepera is someone the Cubs have scouted closely according to Levine. The 30 year-old has a 3.71 ERA 44 appearances this season. He has given up just eight earned runs in his last 16.2 innings of work and has only walked four batters. In 2017, Tepera finished up in the top five among American League relievers in terms of innings pitched and batters faced. He is used to a big workload and that could be pivotal for the Cubs down the stretch.
In terms of his “stuff”, his four seam fastball and sinker average around 94-96 mph and his cutter hovers around 88-90. Per FanGraphs, he threw his cutter 40 percent of the time, ranking ninth-best among major league pitchers who threw cutters.
The cost? It may cost the Cubs someone in their top 30-40 prospects as the goal for all teams is to sell high. Another interesting note on Tepera is under arbitration through 2021 so if it works out he could be apart of the bullpen in the future.
RHP Kirby Yates, Padres
Another righty who has been scouted very closely, Kirby Yates has a 1.60 ERA in 39.1 innings. He went all of June without allowing an earned run and has given up just one home run this season. Impressive numbers.
Note: The Cubs have the third lowest bullpen ERA in the MLB but have the highest walk rate. This is where Yates comes into play. He has walked just 11 this season while striking out 50.
The Cubs do not need bullpen arms desperately, but with the starting staff’s struggles, you will need a strong bullpen if the starters are forced to exit early. Mike Montgomery, Jesse Chavez, and now Tyler Chatwood would be your long-relief guys, but having multiple options to get that tough out or get out of the jam is a luxury the Cubs would like to have. Yates makes a lot of sense but price will be higher than Tepera. But he is one name I’d really focus on in the final hours.
RHP Brad Ziegler, Marlins
Jon Heyman of MLB Network reported on Sunday that Brad Ziegler will likely be moved before Tuesday’s deadline. Cubs, Red Sox are the possible landing spots and Indians, Astros were teams brought up by Heyman as well.
Since June 2, the 38 year-old right hander has allowed just 2 earned runs. He was replaced as the closer by Kyle Barraclough earlier this season. Ziegler totaled 10 saves in 11 opportunities.
Cost would be low of course. Age tells you that. Im my opinion, Ziegler makes the most sense. Cubs would be giving up next to nothing and only 2 earned runs in two months is appealing.
Keep an eye on the Nationals, who could turn to sellers in the final hours.
The Nationals are 6 games back in the division and their last series with the Marlins was going to be telling if they would sell or continue to push for the playoffs. They went 2-2. Right now, it does not seem they are shopping but things could change. Relievers Kelvin Herrera, Shawn Kelley, and Ryan Madson are names the Nationals would sell off and a lot of teams would be interested. Also, teams like the Dodgers and Indians have called about the availability of Bryce Harper but the Nationals moving on from their All-Star outfielder seems unlikely. But if the Nationals decide they are not going to fight for a playoff spot, the Cubs better be on the phone.
Could the White Sox and Cubs do business again?
The Cubs acquiring Jose Quintana from the South Side last season was a move no one saw coming. Both teams kept the deal quite and both fans bases could not be happier. Quintana has been solid and a piece of the rotation for the next few years and both Eloy Jimenez and Dylan Cease are progressing well in the Sox system. Could Rick Hahn and the Cubs do business again? It’s not out of the question. The White Sox have already traded away Joakim Soria to the Brewers and have some other arms that could draw interest to other clubs, one being James Shields.
I know people cringe when they hear Sheilds’ name, but here is another guy who could be effective with a limited workload. An interesting note I found on Shields though is he has tweaked his delivery and has had some success. Left handed batters are only hitting .206 vs. the 36 year-old this season.
Expectations would remain low with Shields IF he joined the north side, but his numbers vs lefties would give the Cubs more versatility in facing left handed hitters.
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