There are several starting pitchers the Cubs have been connected rather heavily to since last summer. And Tuesday afternoon in Peoria, Joe Maddon’s team beat up one of the front office’s targets.
The Cubs knocked Tyson Ross out of the exhibition game with one out in the first inning. The Cubs put five runs on the board and forced Ross to throw over 30 pitches. Ross had to finish getting his pitch count up in the bullpen after Andy Green took him out.
Tyson Ross is one of a group of controllable starting pitchers the Cubs have tried to acquire for close to a year. The Cubs were also linked to Andrew Cashner and James Shields.
Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer are believed to have Ross high on their wish list along with the Indians’ Danny Salazar and Carlos Carrasco and the Rays’ Jake Odorizzi, Matt Moore and Alex Cobb. The Cubs were one of the teams that tried to pry Shelby Miller from the Braves before the Diamondbacks paid the exorbitant cost to add him to their rotation.
Ross earned a trip to the Midsummer Classic in 2014 when he posted a 13-14 record in 31 starts for the Padres with a 2.81 ERA, 1.21 WHIP and 3.24 FIP. Ross allowed 75 runs, 61 earned, on 165 hits with 72 walks and 195 strikeouts in 195 2/3 innings. Ross took a small step back last season while topping 195 innings for the second straight year and striking out a career-high 212 batters.
Ross was 10-12 in 33 starts with a 3.26 ERA, 1.30 WHIP and 2.98 FIP. Ross gave up 172 hits and walked a league-high 84 batters in 196 innings.
The Padres were interested in Javier Baez as part of a package for Ross. The Padres viewed Baez as their possible shortstop of the future. The Cubs “explored deals for a young starter this winter” according to Patrick Mooney and conversations with the Padres were focused on Tyson Ross.
Reports suggested the Padres and Rays had more interest in Baez in conversations with the Cubs than Jorge Soler. Teams like the Indians and Braves reportedly covet Soler and preferred him over Baez in discussions with the Cubs.
The cost to acquire controllable starting pitching went through the roof because of the package (Dansby Swanson, Aaron Blair, Gabe Speier) the Diamondbacks sent to the Braves for Miller.
Patrick Mooney and Gordon Wittenmyer talked to Ross about the Cubs and the front office’s interest in him. Ross thinks the Padres have the talent to win and believes they will be very competitive in the NL West. Ross said he has to “step up and lead and be a lot better” than he was Tuesday. Ross appreciated the interest the Cubs showed in him. He also paid attention to what the Cubs did last season and the talent on the roster.
“Since the new GM took over there, they’ve got a ton of young talent. Obviously, it was a pretty cool playoff run they had last year. They’re a really talented team and it’s interesting to see how they’ve built that in such a short amount of time.”
Tyson Ross is not only a talented pitcher, by all accounts he is the type of player that would fit into the Cubs’ clubhouse. Jason McLeod knows Joe Ross extremely well and thinks the world of Tyson’s little brother.
If the Cubs are in the thick of the NL Central race as expected in July and the Padres make Ross available as Comcast SportsNet reported, Tyson Ross still looks like a pitcher the Cubs will have on their radar.