With 2016 quickly approaching, the Cubs are believed to be looking for ways to upgrade the starting rotation and bullpen. The Cubs are expected to make smaller deals to add depth to the roster in the coming weeks, and those players would likely be signed to minor league contracts with non-roster invites to Spring Training.
Another big move or two would depend on the front office’s ability to acquire one of the starting pitchers the Cubs have been linked to for months, or a back of the bullpen arm to give Joe Maddon more options for late in games.
According to Jim Bowden, the Cubs are “considering trade offers” for a starting pitcher and with one of the strongest systems in the game the front office has assets to deal for pitching.
Two of the teams the Cubs have been connected to consistently, the Indians and Rays, are believed to be looking for at least one Major League player back in any deal for pitching.
The Cubs continue to be linked to Carlos Carrasco (Indians), Danny Salazar (Indians), Tyson Ross (Padres), Jake Odorizzi (Rays), Matt Moore (Rays), Drew Smyly (Rays) and Alex Cobb (Rays). The Cubs also have interest in acquiring Jake McGee (Rays) and Brad Boxberger (Rays) for the backend of the pen and have recently been reported as one of the teams that could eventually try to make a deal with the Yankees for Andrew Miller.
The Indians, according to Bowden, “really need a big bat, but they just don’t have the financial wherewithal to go after one of the hefty free agent power hitters.” The Indians have long coveted Jorge Soler and a trade with the Cubs that would require Cleveland to let go of one of their starting pitchers, “remains a possibility.”
The Rays continue “to dangle their talented starting pitching and hope to strike a deal with the Cubs to get a good young hitter like Javier Baez or Jorge Soler” according to Bowden. The Rays had conversations with the Cubs before and during the Winter Meetings. And it’s believed the Rays would prefer Baez over Soler in any deal with the Cubs.
The Cubs do not appear to be interested in dealing with the Braves for Julio Teheran at this point. Teheran is reportedly not available and John Coppolella said he would like to build a rotation around Teheran. Considering what the Braves received from Arizona for Shelby Miller, making any deals with the Braves for a controllable starting pitcher would not make much sense for any team at this point.
The Cubs are believed to be interested in acquiring Ender Inciarte from Atlanta, but the asking price is just too much right now.
As is the case with all of the starting pitching, the cost to trade for Tyson Ross remains high. The Padres would still like to add a middle infielder, preferably a shortstop. But A.J. Preller is still convinced his team can compete in the NL West and hasn’t decided whether to move Ross for more talent or extend his contract.
It will be interesting to see how the rest of the Cubs off-season plays out for the next seven weeks. Remember, Dexter Fowler was not acquired until after the Convention (January 19). So, it may be late in the off-season but it’s far from over.