The Cubs have not hidden the fact the front office is looking for ways to improve the pitching staff. Reports surfaced last week that linked the Cubs to lefty reliever extraordinaire Andrew Miller. Rumors have also indicated the Cubs would like to add a starting pitcher to the mix.
The Cubs starting staff led by Jake Arrieta and Jon Lester have performed extremely well this season. John Lackey has pitched to expectations. And both Jason Hammel and Kyle Hendricks have been really good in the back of the rotation. Injuries have depleted the Cubs’ starting pitching depth to the point if something happened to one of the starting five, Adam Warren or Trevor Cahill would be called on to fill in, which in turn would weaken what has been a good bullpen.
The Cubs were linked to several starting pitchers last summer and throughout the winter that no longer appear to be options for the front office if Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer attempt to acquire a starting pitcher through trade.
RHP Tyson Ross is still on the disabled list. According to Padres’ beat writer Dennis Lin, Ross “is doing weighted-ball drills in San Diego.” Padres’ skipper Andy Green said Friday “Ross could pick up a baseball within the next week.”
The Indians moved into first place Saturday one half-game ahead of the Royals and White Sox. RHP Carlos Carrasco was sent on a rehab assignment. The Indians are in the mix for a division title on Memorial Day weekend and will not going to be trading a pitcher before the deadline. And the Rays are not looking to trade any of its pitching, at least right now.
One name that has surfaced as a possibility for the Cubs is that of the recently demoted RHP Clay Buchholz. During his weekly spot on Mully and Hanley (670 The Score), Peter Gammons brought up Buchholz as an option for the Cubs if the front office attempts to acquire a starting pitcher.
With LHP Eduardo Rodriguez set to come off the disabled list, Buchholz was demoted to the Red Sox bullpen and he’s not happy. Rodriguez is taking his spot in the rotation and will start Tuesday in Baltimore. Buchholz has made only two relief appearances in his career and last pitched out of the pen in August 2008.
Buchholz is under contract through this season and is owed the remainder of his $13 million salary. Buchholz has a $13.5 million club option for the 2017 season that includes a $500,000 buyout. If a team acquires Buchholz from the Red Sox, he would be under their control for the next year and a half.
Peter Gammons feels Buchholz would be revitalized with the Cubs and being reunited with Jon Lester and John Lackey along with just simply being out of Boston would give him a boost.
Gammons pointed out for the most part he’s pitched well. Buchholz has just made “some unbelievable mistakes.” Gammons believes the Cubs atmosphere and being in the clubhouse would be good for Buchholtz and allow him to pitch the way he is capable of and has shown he can in the majors.
In 10 starts for the Red Sox this season, Buchholz is 2-5 with a 6.35 ERA, 1.46 WHIP and 5.91 FIP. Buchholz has allowed 41 runs, 40 earned, on 59 hits with 24 walks and 37 strikeouts in 56 2/3 innings.
Jed Hoyer was on the Mully and Hanley Show (670 The Score) Friday morning after Peter Gammons. Hoyer was asked if the Cubs would be interested in trading for Clay Buchholz. And specifically if the front office is looking for a starting pitcher.
“I won’t comment specifically on Clay [Buchholz]. We know Clay well,” Hoyer said. “We drafted him in Boston. Jason McLeod is really close with him. Obviously he’s a great kid, but I’m not going to comment directly on him.
“Pitching in general, I think you kinda go through a year and you know that you’re going to need more pitching. I think there’s probably 30 teams in baseball that are going to be looking at pitching. You know that in order to get through the whole grind you’re going to need a lot of it. That’s an area we never stop looking for.”
“We know that something is going to happen that leads us to needing additional starts, needing additional bullpen arms,” Hoyer said. “I’m sure that we’re going to end up acquiring pitching, not only at the deadline. Last year we acquired some pitching in August as well, guys like [Trevor] Cahill and [Fernando] Rodney. That’s really an area that we never have the ability to stop focusing on.”
“I don’t think you can ever stop looking around for more pitching,” Hoyer said.
“Last year those guys really helped us, like Cahill and Rodney those guys that we picked up in August. I’m sure we’re going to be looking to do that again. Once rosters expand in September you can have a lot of pitching. I thought last year that really helped us be fresh for the playoffs in the bullpen because we were able to have a lot of guys back there that could pitch for us.”
The Cubs are exploring ways to improve the pitching staff and are believed to be focused on a left-handed reliever.
The team’s needs could change as the non-waiver trade deadline (Aug. 1) approaches. In the meantime, the front office is making sure it is prepared in case something unforeseen happens so the season is not derailed by injuries or poor performance.