“Here’s a little agit for the never-believer…” – R.E.M., Man on the Moon
If you thought the final weekend ahead of the trade deadline was going to be wild with all of the Juan Soto rumors, add Shohei Ohtani to the mix. According to some, the two-way star is available for the price of a team’s top four prospects. Would you trade Pete Crow-Armstrong, Brennen Davis, Cristian Hernandez, and Kevin Alcantara to the Angels to land the Big Oh?
First and foremost, you’re essentially landing a top-of-rotation pitcher and an MVP-caliber hitter. But there’s also the matter of retaining Ohtani beyond his walk year. He’ll be a free agent in 2024 when he will probably become baseball’s
highest-paid first $500 million-plus player. Soto will be a free agent in ’25.
Note: Remember when sitcoms would play that backward, rewind-the-tape sound? Please insert that here.
Trading your top four prospects for one player means you desperately need free agency to build a winning team around the star attraction. Ohtani and Soto are great acquisitions if you’re in sell-the-farm, win-now mode, but it runs contradictory to the plan for a rebuilding team like the Cubs. Besides, if you’re going to spend the money anyway, just wait until either hits the open market. Both will test free agency unless they get a devastatingly lucrative offer from an acquiring team.
So let’s assume Soto goes to the Cardinals and Ohtani goes to the Yankees or Mets. What does that mean for the Cubs? It certainly reduces the market for Willson Contreras and Ian Happ, but might make David Robertson a helluva nice addition for either of the New York teams. The Cubs were never going to get a top-four prospect for their closer anyway.
The Padres, Rangers, Dodgers, Cardinals, Mets, and Mariners are said to be among the teams in the mix for Soto. Those same six teams will probably call the Angels about Ohtani. I could easily see Happ heading to the Yankees, and the market for Contreras will still be the Astros and Mets if Steve Cohen and Sandy Alderson miss out on either of the generational players.
Additionally, the potential availability of Soto and Ohtani could slow the flow of trades to a crawl until zero hour on Tuesday afternoon. Plus, the Red Sox and Giants are somewhat on the bubble, so it’s tough to designate either as firm buyers or sellers. With that in mind expect a frenzied final hour of trades that day.
Cubs News & Notes
- The Mets acquired outfielder Tyler Naquin and reliever Phillip Diehl from the Reds yesterday, which probably eliminates them as a suitor for Happ. New York sent right-hander Jose Acuña and second baseman Hector Rodríguez, two low-level prospects, to Cincinnati to complete the deal.
- The Blue Jays are reportedly very interested in Happ.
- Robertson is unsure about his future with the Cubs but said he’s “ready for anything” if Hoyer trades him. He sounds like a guy who might want to return as a free agent this winter.
- The closer has thoroughly enjoyed his time with Chicago, and why not? He resurrected his career with the Cubs.
- Kyle Hendricks said he is impressed by the Cubs’ young players and added he sees playoff potential with the addition of one or two pieces.
- As I mentioned in my last two Rundown posts, Carlos Rodón is the answer to Jed Hoyer’s (it’s not a rebuild) efforts.
- Good morning David Ross! Last night’s double birds are a viral sensation and sum up Chicago’s season quite succinctly.
- A stubborn mentality has helped Nelson Velázquez find success at the start of his big league career. The rookie outfielder grew up a sore loser, but it helped him develop the mentality to make changes when needed.
- Starters Justin Steele and Keegan Thompson have often excelled this season, and each has proved to the front office that they are a big part of the team’s future.
- Crow-Armstrong continues to show why he’s among baseball’s best prospects.
Odds & Sods
So you’re saying “there’s still a chance?”
— WTP Chicago Cubs (@WTPCubs) July 29, 2022
Climbing the Ladder
“When your day is long and the night, the night is yours alone. When you’re sure you’ve had enough of this life, well hang on.” – R.E.M., Everybody Hurts
Patrick Wisdom provided the only significant offense in yesterday’s loss with a 7th inning, two-run bomb off of San Francisco starter Alex Wood. The Cubs managed just three hits, and Happ has the other two. In fact, Happer broke up Wood’s no-hit bid with his 7th-inning single. Nico Hoerner committed an error for the second consecutive game, giving him eight on the season. An error by Wisdom in the 3rd inning cost Chicago three runs. With that, the winning streak has ended at six straight.
- Games Played: 98
- Total Plate Appearances: 3,736
- Total Strikeouts: 858
- Strikeout Rate: 22.97%
- Team Batting Average: .245
- Runs Scored: 420
- Runs Allowed: 487
How About That!
Baseball insider Jon Heyman believes it is a near 100% certainty that the Nationals will trade Soto in the next few days and like many others, lists St. Louis as the favorites to acquire him.
The Brewers signed left-hander Aaron Ashby on Saturday to a five-year contract through 2027, with club options for ’28 and ’29. The pitcher said he “enjoys a level of comfort” in Milwaukee, and I totally relate.
MLB’s expanded postseason has changed the trade deadline, and maybe not for the better.
That said, late sellers like the Marlins, Red Sox, and Giants are adding a little more juice to this week’s festivities.
If you want to read Jim Bowden waxing poetic about the trade deadline you’re going to need a subscription to The Athletic.
Thursday’s Three Stars
- Ohtani – The future ex-Angel struck out 11 Rangers batters over six innings, though he was 0-for-4 at the plate. I secretly want the Cubs to trade for him, but that’s just because I want to write about the all-everything star 200 times each year.
- Matt Chapman – The Blue Jays third baseman hit two bombs and knocked in three runs with two runs scored as Toronto topped the Tigers 5-3.
- Tyler Anderson – Talk about your reclamation projects! The veteran lefty improved to 11-1 with a sparkling 2.61 ERA after shutting out the Rockies over seven innings. He’s outperforming Clayton Kershaw for the love of Mookie Betts. Anderson and Tony Gonsolin have combined to go 22-2 this season, which is the most unbelievable story of this season.
Baseball is indeed a game of inches.
Patrick Wisdom – Chicago Cubs (18) pic.twitter.com/Ocf8dXA0fW
— MLB HR Videos (@MLBHRVideos) July 29, 2022
Friday Morning Six-Pack
- The Bears’ offensive line was the talk of Day 2 of practices. Teven Jenkins was a no-show. Lucas Patrick left the field with an injury, and head coach Matt Eberflus continues to tinker with different blocker combinations. Here are your training camp bullets for Friday morning.
- Jenkins hasn’t done anything wrong, but he’s also not really getting a chance to prove himself. Perhaps the new regime just doesn’t see him as a fit.
- To spare you from having to ask your group chat “What podcast should I listen to after bingeing the Beyoncé album?” we’ve got a bunch of ’em: The Cubs Insider podcasts never disappoint!
- A new political party dropped yesterday! The Forward Party, a group of select individuals who support democracy while providing a middle ground for voters fed up with Democrats and Republicans, was announced yesterday by party co-chairs Andrew Yang and Christine Todd Whitman, alongside former Republican Rep. David Jolly.
- If you’re looking for inspiration on a Friday night in a world with a multitude of choices, why not kick old school? Rolling Stone ranked the top 200 dance tracks of all time. I didn’t even know the iconic music magazine still wrote about, ahem, music.
- If I’m needing inspiration, Philomath is where I go. Lawyer Jeff knows the lowdown, though I don’t suppose he’s related to Bleacher Jeff. It’s Friday folks – cut me some slack.
The Official Scorer Marks it E-5
In yesterday’s comments section, I said Alcantara was the team’s 18th-ranked prospect when in fact he is No. 4. I confused him with Alexander Canario, so please accept my apology, Sammy!
They Said It
- “I’ll say this: Chicago has a dear spot in my heart. It’s the city where my wife and I kind of grew up together, became adults, and where we had our two children.” – Rodón
- “I’m a guy that keeps on going and never gives up. That helps me keep going today. It’s made me strong mentally.” – Velázquez
- “I think a lot of people are worried about what’s happening in the big leagues and fans are stressing out and stuff, but from top to bottom, the Cubs are in a really good spot. We’ve got a lot of guys in the lower levels doing the work and we’re trying our best to get up there.” – Crow-Armstrong
Friday Walk-Up Song
Again, it’s a theme. Thank you very little.