According to multiple reports Saturday, the Cubs continue to pursue the Rays’ controllable starting pitchers. And Marc Topkin reported the Cubs were among the teams that had scouts in attendance Friday night at the Trop.
Marc Topkin confirmed Jim Bowden’s report that the Cubs continue to pursue Rays’ starting pitchers. Topkin said the Cubs, Blue Jays, Dodgers, Giants, Marlins, Orioles, Rangers, Royals and White Sox had scouts at Friday’s game.
Jed Hoyer and Matt Silverman admitted last winter that the Cubs and Rays matched up well on trades down the line. The Cubs have the young, controllable position players the Rays lack in their system. And the Rays have the controllable starting pitchers the Cubs do not have either at or near the Major League level.
Jake Odorizzi started Friday night and completed 6 2/3 innings of shutout ball in the Rays 5-1 victory over the Yankees. Erasmo Ramirez and Alex Colome also pitched Friday night. The Cubs were believed to have interest in both Ramirez and Colome before acquiring Aroldis Chapman.
The Cubs have been connected heavily to Jake Odorizzi and linked to Matt Moore for a majority of the last calendar year. Reports have also suggested the Cubs have talked to the Rays about Chris Archer.
While the Cubs might have enough on the position player side to pry Jake Odorizzi or Matt Moore from the Rays, the system lacks the high-end pitching prospects that would have to be included in a deal for a pitcher the caliber of Chris Archer.
The Rays had significant interest in Javier Baez last off-season in the discussions with the Cubs. Baez is not available and is believed to be on a small list of players that teams know the Cubs will not discuss in trade talks. Reports during the Winter Meetings indicated the Rays were interested in Jorge Soler but would have preferred Baez in any deal with the Cubs.
Jorge Soler’s value has dropped significantly this season and it is unknown at this point if the Rays would still want him included in a package for one of their pitchers.
In 22 starts this season, Jake Odorizzi is 5-5 with a 3.88 ERA, 1.21 WHIP and 4.01 FIP. Odorizzi has allowed 55 runs, 54 earned, on 117 hits with 35 walks and 115 strikeouts in 125 1/3 innings. Odorizzi is arbitration eligible for the first time in the off-season and is under club control for three more years through the 2019 season.
Matt Moore also has three full seasons of club control left before he would become a free agent after the 2019 season. Moore is having a solid season and is 7-7 in 21 starts with a 4.08 ERA, 1.26 WHIP and 4.50 FIP. Moore has allowed 62 runs, 59 earned, on 125 hits with 40 walks and 109 strikeouts in 130 innings.
The front office is looking for starting pitching the team would control past this season. One of the reasons the Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer pulled the trigger on the deal with the Mariners for Mike Montgomery.
Whether or not the front office is willing to pay the price, in the form prospect currency, for starting pitching, that’s the question. And the Cubs will provide the answer at some point over the next 40 hours.