The Cubs and Rays have been talking about potential deals since at least December. The two teams have acknowledged publicly they match-up well, but a trade is not imminent. The Cubs have young, controllable position players and the Rays have young, controllable pitchers they would be willing to move in the right deal to add offense to their team.
Based on recent comments from Rays’ President of Baseball Operations Matt Silverman and Jed Hoyer, there are ongoing conversations between the two organizations. The Cubs are not limiting their search for starting pitchers to the Rays and stay in contact with multiple teams.
Jed Hoyer said Friday during an interview on MLB Network Radio he likes the Cubs’ roster and the front office is probably done making significant moves this off-season. The Cubs were consistent with their comments last weekend while not closing the door on the possibility of a deal taking place before Spring Training.
“We have a lot of conversations going with different teams and different agents. I think we’ll almost certainly have some small things left,” Hoyer said on MLB Network Radio. “Last week was our Convention and we sort of said this is probably the … roughly the team we’re going to go to Mesa with. I don’t see any big changes.”
“I think some small stuff might happen, but as always we’re in touch with people. I think because the free agent market has developed sort of late, there is still some trade talks going on that might have already wrapped up if the free agent market had wrapped up already.”
“Yeah, I talk to Matt quite a bit. He’s a great guy. He’s very smart, just in general very enjoyable to talk to. We talk quite a bit.”
“I think there’s always probably a handful of teams in baseball that you look at and say to yourself that’s a really good match,” Hoyer said. “It doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re looking to come together right away. People have been match-making us and the Mets forever. And there hasn’t been a deal there yet.”
“I think whenever a team has a lot of good, young pitching and we have a lot of good, young hitting, people sort of thinks it makes sense. I do think that we do have potential matches with Tampa. Obviously nothing’s come together yet, but we’ll keep on talking and maybe they are a team at some point down the road something makes sense. There is certainly nothing imminent on that front right now.”
Bruce Levine reported Saturday on Inside the Clubhouse (670 The Score) conversations between the Cubs and Rays are ongoing and one scenario that has been discussed is a megadeal that would include six to seven players.
According to Levine, the Cubs are looking at RHP Jake Odorizzi, LHP Jake McGee and an outfielder. Levine said the conversations have not included Kevin Kiermaier but Desmond Jennings has been one of the names discussed.
The Rays are interested in players like Jorge Soler and Javier Baez and could be asking for prospects like Gleyber Torres and Willson Contreras. Levine did not say a deal with the Rays could include all four players. The Rays have been linked to Soler and Baez consistently since December and Torres and Contreras are two of the Cubs’ top prospects.
The Cubs are very high on Willson Contreras and were not willing to include him in a deal with the Braves for Shelby Miller. The Cubs think the No. 1 catching prospect in baseball can be a frontline catcher in the big leagues for a longtime. Gleyber Torres is considered the top prospect in the Cubs rather deep farm system.
Including Javier Baez or Jorge Soler in a deal with the Rays would reduce the depth on the Major League roster, but if Soler was dealt, Jason Heyward would be able to play right field.
Levine explained that Jake McGee would be the No. 1 player coming back to the Cubs in a deal. The Cubs view McGee as their closer of the future. The Cubs are also focused on Jake Odorizzi and if a trade with the Rays included Jorge Soler, an outfielder would have to be in the deal. Levine said Desmond Jennings is a possibility, but Kevin Kiermaier is not.
Levine stressed that nothing is imminent, but the two teams continue to talk.
Jake Odorizzi is arbitration eligible for the first time in 2017. Odorizzi turns 26 on March 27 and is under club control through the 2019 season, four more years. Odorizzi would not be eligible for free agency until after the 2019 season.
Jake McGee avoided arbitration with the Rays last week with a $4.8 million contract for the 2016 season. McGee is under team control for two more seasons, eligible for free agency after the 2017 season.
The Rays and Desmond Jennings also avoided arbitration last week. Jennings received $3.3 million for the upcoming season after a left knee injury and a tooth infection that required surgery limited him to 28 games last year.
Stay tuned …