The front office has not hidden the fact they would like to add as much pitching as possible to the roster this off-season. The Cubs have been exploring ways to acquire a young controllable starting pitcher and have been linked consistently to four teams.
It’s believed the Cubs are still having conversations with the Padres, Indians and Rays about starting pitchers those clubs might be willing to trade in the right deal.
The Cubs were one of the teams that talked to the Braves about Shelby Miller before he was traded to Arizona in a deal that has impacted baseball. The Braves traded Miller and LHP Gabe Speier to the Diamondbacks for OF Ender Inciarte, RHP Aaron Blair and SS Dansby Swanson. The price the Diamondbacks paid for Miller has increased the acquisition cost for pitchers such as Tyson Ross, Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar.
According to Peter Gammons, the Cubs were “in the Shelby Miller sweepstakes.” John Coppolella not only wanted Jorge Soler in a deal for Miller, but the Braves “insisted on both Soler and Willson Contreras.” The Cubs would not include Contreras and were unable to trade for Miller.
Willson Contreras is regarded as one of the top catching prospects in the game. The Cubs Minor League Player of the Year had a sensational season and was performing rather well in the Arizona Fall League before an injury ended his fall season early. Contreras was added to the 40-man roster and will be in big league camp this spring for the first time.
The 23-year old catcher won the Southern League Batting Crown after hitting .333/.413/.478 with 34 doubles, four triples and eight home runs for a .891 OPS. Contreras walked 57 times in 454 at bats with 62 strikeouts. While he still has work to do, Contreras is considered an excellent receiver and defensive catcher. And Contreras could make his Major League debut at some point next season, as Gammons pointed out.
Peter Gammons provided updates on the Cubs talks with the Rays and Indians.
The Rays wanted Javier Baez but the Cubs “still have concerns about the medicals on Drew Smyly and Alex Cobb.” Gammons did not say whether or not the Cubs are still talking to Tampa about Jake McGee, Matt Moore and/or Brad Boxberger.
The Cubs “tried to get involved with Carlos Carrasco or Danny Salazar with the Indians, but the price is high.” Gammons explained “it may be that come Memorial Day, the Cubs are settled enough and the Indians have started slowly enough that some sort of deal could be worked around one of the Indians starters and a Baez/Soler package.”
The problem the Cubs and other teams are having in attempts to acquire controllable starting pitching is the cost is extremely high due to the Shelby Miller deal. And teams, according to Gammons, now feel they “have every right to ask for the equivalent of Dansby Swanson and two prospect pieces for a young arm.”
Based on recent reports, the Cubs would like to trade for a starting pitcher but at this point of the off-season the front office is not in a rush to make a deal. On paper, the Cubs roster is better than it was at the end of the season. There are areas the front office is still expected to address before Spring Training.