All we’ve really heard about the Cubs’ pursuit of pitching to this point is that they’re looking for cost-controlled starters, but a new rumor recently surfaced that has them possibly targeting O’s closer Zach Britton.
Industry source thinks Cubs will trade for Britton. “If you have a chance to add Britton to your club, you do it. Theo has the minor-lgrs."
— Mark Feinsand (@Feinsand) July 17, 2017
The last statement might seem questionable to some, but it really depends on what the Orioles would be looking for. The Cubs do still have some really intriguing young pitchers and we’ve seen how bad the Orioles are struggling in that department. And a deal would probably include a player who’s no longer a prospect, given that Britton is one of the most dominant closers in the game and still has another year of control remaining.
Then again, injuries have limited the 29-year-old’s time this season and he’s only now being eased back into the closer role after returning from his most recent trip to the DL. As such, the Cubs could use Britton as a setup man for Wade Davis and would then be insulated against the loss of Davis to free agency after the season.
But is that really worth what is sure to be a steep cost? Are the Cubs better off trying to re-sign Davis or just rolling with CJ Edwards next season and beyond? We saw how important it was for them to shore up the back end of the pen last season, but that has hardly been their biggest issue in 2017 and the Cubs aren’t in nearly the same position as they were last year.
I’ll never say never on a move, but this smells like one of those leverage ploys that are so common in trade season. The Dodgers have been said to like Britton as a setup man to Kenley Jansen — which means you’d better not be trailing them heading into the 8th — and the Yankees have experienced some struggles with Dellin Betances and that guy the Cubs rented and broke last year. Can’t hurt to throw another team in the mix and drive the price up.
So what do you think? Is this legitimate smoke or just smoke and mirrors? Either way, expect more of these rumors as we get closer to the deadline.