CHICAGO, IL. — Hector Rondon and Justin Grimm finally broke down for the first time since the All-Star Break and pretty much looked like their usual selves in the 11-4 loss on Friday. The Bullpen may have set the tone for what trades might best suit the Cubs and now relief pitching is probably on top of the list.
The Starting Pitching can still be the best rotation in Baseball, so that’s set and Wade Davis is the closer so two key pieces are filled. What the Cubs are lacking which has hurt them in every loss since last season is a middle of the order guy that can keep the lead. Right now, Andrew Miller is the best in baseball in that role but obviously he isn’t leaving Cleveland any time soon so the Cubs will have to find an option that would work. Justin Grimm, Pedro Strop, Koji Uehara, and Brian Duensing just aren’t cutting it, constantly allowing runs, and blowing leads. You now wonder why the Cubs starting aren’t earning any wins in good performances. Jake Arrieta deserved the win but the Bullpen let him down. We will look at all the possible options to fill the much-needed middle of the order role:
The cheapest option for the Cubs would be to promote Brett Anderson or Eddie Butler once they are better in the minors and pitch them out of the pen rather than the starting rotation. The starters are crowded and with Jon Lester, Jake Arrieta, Jose Quintana and Kyle Hendricks you only need four quality starters to make it. If you throw in John Lackey you now have your five starters moving forward this season. There is absolutely no room in the rotation for Anderson or Butler at this point and that may be why they have found themselves pitching in the minors. The Cubs may be leaning towards this because Anderson in one of his rehab games, he came in out of the bullpen. Moving either Anderson or Butler into to the middle rotation would be the cheapest option but not the most effective.
Now, if the Cubs want to spend some money and trade some players that could drastically help the depleted bullpen. Obviously, you are not going to get a guy like Andrew Miller because Cleveland may still be heartbroken and will want too much for the Cubs to give up at this point. There are a few guys that could require less talent and the Cubs would still receive a lot of extra help.
Brad Hand of the San Diego Padres is in heavy trade talks and could fill the role the Cubs need at a cheap price. Hand has been lights out with a 2.20 ERA on the season with 2 saves and 62 strikeouts. He can pitch 2-3 innings if you need to and he retires batters on a consistent basis. In his last ten games, he has allowed no runs and only 7 hits. In six of those games he pitched shutout innings. He is an excellent left-hander but the only knock is the Padres are rebuilding and want minor-league talent. If the price is right for a few prospects for Brad Hand the deal is worth a look.
Zach Britton with the Baltimore Orioles could be the next Andrew Miller and even has a cheap salary. Britton is currently the closer for the Orioles but the Cubs could stretch him out like the Yankees did with Andrew Miller after Aroldis Chapman came back from suspension last season. He has pitched two innings once this season so he could make the transition and the deal with the Orioles could be another bargain for the Cubs. The Orioles like the Padres are in somewhat of a rebuild and the price tag wouldn’t be a big hit for the Cubs. He is already in heavy trade talks with the Dodgers leading the way but at this point the O’s probably will make the trade with this many rumor. He is a dominate reliever but the reason he can be so cheap is because of missing two months this season with injuries. He hasn’t pitched on consecutive days since his return from the disabled list July 5. The deal could require some developed talent like Albert Almora Jr. and more minor-league prospects. Even ESPN.com weighed in on his potential landing spots and said a fellow executive said, “I wouldn’t count out the Cubs.” If a trade like this would happen it would certainly be a blockbuster type deal like Andrew Miller last trade deadline and would help the very depleted Cubs bullpen.
If the Cubs want to put everything on the line, the could trade for the league’s best, Andrew Miller which would end the bullpen woes.
We’ve now looked at some of the most logical options for the Cubs to fill the middle of the order role and its now time to sit back and watch what they do. A deal certainly must come because they cannot trust the guys they have now to produce on a consistent basis if they want to make another run at a title.