For the most part, the Cubs have been linked to pitchers, not position players, as the front office looks for rotation depth and possibly an impact starter. And despite the recent performance of the bullpen, the Cubs are still believed to be interested in acquiring Jonathan Papelbon as Rafael Soriano gets closer to pitching for one of the team’s minor league affiliates.
According to Jon Paul Morosi, who was at Wrigley over the weekend as part of the Fox broadcast, reported Sunday the “Cubs should be active at the deadline with chance at the post-season.” Morosi indicated the Cubs’ conversations “have been focused more on starting pitchers than position players.” Morosi reiterated what Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer have been saying publicly, the front office “would prefer to trade for a starting pitcher whom they would control beyond this year.”
Epstein said last fall the plan was to add two impact starting pitchers from outside the organization. And Morosi reported the Cubs’ plan has not changed. The Cubs would like to “acquire a frontline starting pitcher between now and Opening Day 2016.” LHP Cole Hamels is still a possibility where RHP Johnny Cueto would not be due to the lack of control beyond this season. Epstein and Hoyer have said the deals must make sense for now and the future.
Until Sunday night, the Cubs had only been connected to one position player, INF/OF Ben Zobrist. If Billy Beane decides to move Zobrist teams are going to lineup and the cost is going to be rather high for the soon-to-be free agent.
Jon Paul Morosi reported the Cubs “would like to add a left-handed outfield bat if the acquisition cost is reasonable.” Morosi explained Dexter Fowler is “having the worst offensive season of his Major League career, and his struggles have been most pronounced from the left side.”
Dexter Fowler is hitting .228/.305/.374 for the season and .208/.285/.365 against right handed pitching. In very limited at bats against lefties (53 plate appearances), Fowler is 16-for-47 (.340/.407/.426).
According to Morosi, two names to watch for the Cubs are Gerardo Parra and Will Venable. Morosi explained both players are “considered excellent clubhouse citizens … a theme of recent Cubs’ acquisitions.” Jed Hoyer has a history with Will Venable from their time together in San Diego, and Venable was one of the players linked to the Cubs in the off-season before the front office traded for Fowler.
Will Venable has bounced back at the plate this season from a .224/.288/.325 line he put together last year in 146 games. Venable is batting .260/.321/.410 in 69 games with eight doubles, two triples, six home runs and a .731 OPS while playing all three outfield spots.
Venable is a free agent at the end of the season and is owed the remainder of his $4.25 million salary for this year.
Gerardo Parra is having a very good season for the Brewers. Parra also plays all three outfield spots and in 81 games this year he is batting .308/.345/.477 with 19 doubles, two triples and seven home runs for a .822 OPS. Like Venable and Fowler, Parra is a free agent at the end of the season. And he is owed the balance of his $6.237 million salary.
Based on reports, the front office is looking for ways to upgrade the roster and put the team in a better position to compete for a spot in the tournament. And it is rather clear the Cubs will not be trading players the front office views as part of the future for rentals that might put the team in position for a one-game playoff.
It is going to be a very interesting trading season throughout the game and the Cubs figure to be right in the middle of all the rumors.