Multiple reports have indicated the Cubs are scouting late-inning relievers, most notably the Yankees’ Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman. Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer have stated the front office is constantly looking for pitching.
In recent weeks, the Cubs have signed free agents RHP Joe Nathan, LHP Brian Matusz and RHP Joel Peralta. And RHP Aaron Crow is working his way back to the big leagues at the team’s facility in Mesa.
Theo Epstein talked to the beat writers prior to Friday’s game against the Pirates. And one of the many topics he covered was the fact the front office would love to add an impact reliever to roster.
“We feel like there’s some things that we could do down the line without completely mortgaging the future that could bolster the big league level. That’s what you want to do. These guys are going out there and deserve some support.”
The Cubs are not looking to add a reliever, or two, in response to the recent struggles of the bullpen. According to Bruce Levine, Epstein said that “the sudden bullpen downturn is part of a natural progression of a season’s ebb and flow.”
“We’d love to add an impact reliever at some point. But I don’t think you’re going to see us be reactive to situations where relievers are going through a little bit of a downturn in performance.”
The Cubs glaring need in the pen is for a lefty that Joe Maddon can depend on late in games. The Cubs are also believed to be looking for a right-handed reliever.
While the focus has been on the Yankees’ two relievers, the Cubs are not the only team being connected to the lefties. Dusty Baker knows Aroldis Chapman extremely well and the Nationals have the prospects to make a deal for either Chapman or Andrew Miller. Plus, with Jonathan Papelbon on the DL for the first time, the Nationals have a big need at the end of their pen. The Giants and Rangers are two other teams that have been linked to Chapman and Miller by multiple outlets.
As Jon Heyman recently reported, the Yankees will not waive the white flag on the season in June. Brian Cashman intends “to wait until late July before deciding whether to pull the trigger” and trade his players. And even at that point, Andrew Miller might not be available.
The cost to acquire Miller, according to Heyman, will be “very steep” if Cashman decides to trade him.
Buster Olney reported earlier in the week that if the Cubs want to add Andrew Miller to the bullpen it’s “going to hurt.” The Yankees will “have to be offered a package similar to the group of young players that the Astros gave up for RHP Ken Giles, whether the offer comes from the Cubs, Rangers, Giants or Dodgers.”
Olney did not think it would be unreasonable for the Yankees to “ask” about Kyle Schwarber being included in a package for Andrew Miller.
The Cubs are not trading Schwarber for a late-inning reliever, even one the caliber of Miller. Schwarber, Javier Baez and Willson Contreras are not available and are “non-starters in talks” according to the Sun-Times.
Other relievers the Cubs have been connected to include LHP Fernando Abad (Twins) and LHP Sean Doolitte (A’s).
As the trade rumors continue to surface, keep in mind that Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer prefer to acquire players with multiple years of control.