When the news broke Friday that the Cubs and Jason Heyward agreed to an eight-year megadeal, reports immediately surfaced suggesting the front office was working on a deal with another team for pitching. Those reports quickly went away and were replaced about the Cubs willingness to start the season with Heyward in center field.
Landing Jason Heyward gives the Cubs flexibility and because he can play center, the front office is not forced to make a trade. This is not the same situation as a year ago when the Cubs inked David Ross and diminished Welington Castillo’s value. The Cubs can wait and find the right deal without the rest of baseball knowing their hands are tied.
According to a National League executive Joel Sherman spoke to the Cubs have “lots of lines in the water” for trades. The Cubs would like to add to either the starting staff or back of the bullpen or maybe both with the same deal.
The Cubs are also looking for a centerfielder, either via trade or a free agent signing. Despite the countless reports, why would the front office commit $184 million to the best defensive right fielder in the game and not play him there?
Teams are calling about Jorge Soler. There is a lot of interest in him throughout the game. And he might be the player the Cubs use to headline a package to acquire pitching. Javier Baez could be more valuable to the Cubs right now than he was just a week ago. Reports suggesting he might be moved for pitching have all but disappeared.
The Cubs have been consistently linked to three teams for a starting pitcher since last June. Tyson Ross is the Padres controllable starter the Cubs appear to have the most interest in acquiring. Reports have also connected the Cubs to Andrew Cashner and James Shields. Cashner is a free agent after next season and Shields has an opt-out clause in his contract that would only guarantee the Cubs one year of control. Plus, reports have indicated the Padres are not willing to include any money in a Shields deal and are looking for a good package of young players for the veteran right hander on the downside of his career.
The Indians do not want to trade any of their pitchers, same as the Cubs from the position player side. The Diamondbacks raised the acquisition cost for controllable starting pitching with the ridiculously high price they paid for Shelby Miller.
The Cubs have talked to the Indians about Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar, and both of those right-handers have a higher ceiling than Shelby Miller. The Indians are believed to covet Jorge Soler and the Cubs have the prospects to add to a package built around him to make a deal. Reports have not surfaced on players in the Cubs’ system that might be of interest to the Indians.
The Braves and Cubs do not appear to matchup on a trade for pitching any longer. The Cubs were interested in Shelby Miller but shortly after John Coppolella sent Miller to Arizona, reports surfaced that the Braves’ GM is not trading Julio Teheran. The Braves plan to build a staff around him. The Cubs have at least checked in with the Braves about Ender Inciarte.
The Orioles and Rays are also looking to acquire young, controllable position players. And the Cubs could matchup the best at this point with a team from the AL East.
Multiple reports have linked the Cubs with the Orioles and Kevin Gausman. It is unclear which players Dan Duquette has shown interest in, but Baltimore should also be able to build a deal around Soler.
With the front office looking for help in both the rotation and bullpen, the Cubs would seemingly matchup well with the Rays.
The Cubs have been connected heavily to Jake McGee. Jon Paul Morosi reported Friday just before the Jason Heyward news hit the wire that trade conversations about Jake McGee had intensified in the last 24 to 48 hours, but McGee was not moved and an update on those conversations has not been provided.
According to Bruce Levine, the Cubs might be able to put together a trade with the Rays that would include Jorge Soler and prospects for Jake McGee and Matt Moore.
The Cubs have also been linked to Jake Odorizzi and Alex Cobb. With the Cubs being in ‘win-now’ mode it’s hard to see how Cobb could fit in the front office’s plans. Cobb isn’t expected to be back until at least August as he recovers from Tommy John surgery. Brad Boxberger was also a name mentioned heavily last week. Boxberger has not been linked to the Cubs as much as McGee.
During the Winter Meetings it appeared Javier Baez would be moved to Tampa for pitching. The Rays seemed focused on Baez as the player coming back in any deal with the Cubs. Since trading Starlin Castro, statements from the front office have Baez predominately in the team’s plans for next season as a utility player and insurance at shortstop … basically the Cubs’ second Ben Zobrist, or Zobrist-lite.
Roster moves will have to be made even if the front office does not make a trade. The 40-man roster currently stands at 38 players with two contracts pending (Trevor Cahill, Jason Heyward) and a yet to be identified player, believed to be Brendan Ryan, coming from the Yankees to complete the Starlin Castro–Adam Warren trade.
Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer do not appear to be done rounding out the roster and there are areas the front office would still like to address this winter.