We are now more than a week into July, and the hot stove is starting to boil over with some realistic trade rumors, some of which involve the Cubs. We are about a week away from the All-Star Game, and we’ve already seen three Cubs selected to represent the North Side. While the Cubs wait for their key players, including Kris Bryant and Yu Darvish, to get back into action, there’s some speculation as to what they might pursue before the non-waiver trade deadline at the end of the month.
The one piece of business that kind of flew under the radar (since the Cubs have been doing well on this front ever since Theo Epstein took over) was the signing of the 2018 MLB Draft picks. You can check out the spending plan on Wes Saver’s spreadsheet, and it is clear that the Cubs had every intention of maximizing their dollars as they signed 32 players. Michael Ernst from Cubs Den also has this little tidbit to add, especially since Saver’s spreadsheet showed that they could potentially spend another ~$80K without forfeiting a future draft pick:
Thought I would post one final #Cubs Draft Signings update. The underclassmen deadline was last Friday. The team spent all but $5 of their available money. As a college senior 23rd round pick Hunter Taylor will still be eligible to sign at later date. pic.twitter.com/M1anSjrbaJ
— Michael Ernst (@mj_ernst) July 9, 2018
Michael also talks a bit about the international signings, in which the Cubs nabbed a few top-30 talents and could potentially trade for more slot money if they want to sign more now that there is a hard cap on international spending (boo). It’s nice to see the Cubs prospects already doing some damage, including top pick Nico Hoerner:
Nico Hoerner, the #Cubs 1st-round pick from the 2018 #MLBDraft, went deep to right for his first @MiLB homer with @EugeneEmeralds. Here's how all @Cubs Draft picks are performing: https://t.co/g5rQ4kTZOR pic.twitter.com/134bB034l0
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) July 8, 2018
The big fish in this summer’s trade market appears to be Orioles All-Star Manny Machado, who becomes a free agent at the end of this season. Along with Bryce Harper, Machado seems to be the most coveted free agent, and figures to command a substantial return for Baltimore if he is traded. Apparently, Baltimore is getting a lot of bites:
Source on where the Orioles seem to be in their Manny Machado trade process: "(Opponents') Thirty-five yard-line, and driving."
— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) July 8, 2018
Putting aside the Joe Flacco pick-six jokes and the Orioles’ front office foibles, you can imagine that many teams could use a strong bat who can also handle third base and shortstop (although I believe Machado is a much better third baseman than shortstop). The reasonable suitors will be limited by who is in their farm systems, and unfortunately that might mean the Brewers could make a run at Machado:
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) July 9, 2018
Of course, the Dodgers could have something to say about that:
In exchange for Manny Machado, the Dodgers offered up their No. 1 (Alex Verdugo) and No. 8 (Yadier Alvarez) prospects – as per Jim Bowden.
Foolish of the Orioles to decline this. The stubbornness is all too familiar, sadly. Was a fair offer for what’s only a three month rental.
— Dan Clark (@DanClarkSports) July 8, 2018
That is a heck of a price to pay for a rental, harkening to when the Cubs traded now-All-Star Gleyber Torres for a few months of Aroldis Chapman. But teams who are on the cusp are often wont to do crazy stuff like that, and flags do fly forever. I do not believe the Cubs will challenge for Machado, and from a purely baseball perspective, I do not believe they need to either given their recent play. Not that I would mind at all if they tried, although if they did want Machado long term, they could hold on to trade chips and then throw boatloads of money at him in the offseason after another team lands him in trade.
I know this is a bit unorthodox, but given how fun our All-Stars are, and how fun this particular former All-Star is, I wonder if it makes some sense to throw a lottery ticket at the Texas Rangers for Adrian Beltre. The guy is on the old side, and this is the last year of his contract, but he continues to play astonishingly good defense while being an above average offensive player. Beltre is one of a handful of active players with 3000 career hits, and is always good for some fun antics along with his highlight plays. And he obviously wouldn’t cost nearly as much as a Manny Machado, either. But I also don’t think the Cubs necessarily need to get more position players to bolster their core for this season, so this is probably a pipe dream.
Another pipe dream, even with the Cubs’ taxi squad being so consistently good this season, is to grab a guy like Blake Treinen. As the Pitching Ninja says, Treinen is a witch:
Or maybe he’s a warlock? Either way, he’s got some supremely unhittable stuff and would make a great complement to the superb guys the Cubs already have in their bullpen. Andy has said the reliever market may be subdued because of the Kelvin Herrera trade, but Herrera was an impending free agent and still got some fairly interesting prospects in return for the Royals. Treinen, on the other hand, is arbitration eligible next year, so he will come over not just for the remainder of the season, but will be team controlled for the next three seasons. That bears some weight, not to mention that the Oakland A’s are playing very well right now and may yet challenge for a wild card spot. So chalk that up to another pipe dream.
I know the Cubs have been linked to J.A. Happ, but while it would be fun to have another guy with Illinois and Chicago roots on the roster, I believe the Cubs are still in a position of luxury. They have been playing arguably like crap and yet are still within striking distance of first place while maintaining a top record in the National League. Their most valuable player is on the way back, and there might yet be a plan for Yu Darvish to return before the trade deadline, although that is a bit optimistic. However, with starting depth in the minors and Mike Montgomery doing a good job so far, maybe the needs aren’t as dire. I suppose we will see, and maybe the Cubs might surprise us and pull off a fun trade, even if my pipe dreams don’t come true.