Friday, May 10, 2024

Best Trade Targets Not Named Mason Miller for the Cubs

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Welcome to a way too early look at trade targets for the Chicago Cubs. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to write about Mason Miller again, but I already did and while the Oakland A’s are listening to teams, they’re reportedly asking for a huge return. I explored what that could be for the Cubs here. So, how about trade targets for the Cubs not named Mason Miller.

Bruce Levine wrote about that topic today and he threw out some interesting trade candidates that the Cubs should inquire about.

Michael Kopech

Hell yeah, count me in. The White Sox moved Michael Kopech to the bullpen during spring training when the right-handed pitcher continued to struggle with his efficiency. It’s not the first time that Kopech has been a full time reliever, as the right-hander made 40 of his 44 appearances out of the bullpen in 2021, when he finished the year with a 3.50 ERA in 69.1 innings.

So far in 2024, Kopech has shown dominance at times, while also having bouts of command issues. He has a 3.66 ERA with 26 strikeouts in 19.2 innings. Kopech has recorded four saves, has recorded an additional hold and does have one blown save to his name for the White Sox.

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The 28-year-old is set to earn $3 million in 2024 and will have one more year of arbitration in 2025 before he becomes a free agent. So, this wouldn’t be a pure rental move for the Cubs. Kopech does come with another year of control.

We talked about Kopech and the Cubs back in April on the Pinwheels And Ivy Podcast.

The Cubs and White Sox matchup well here if the two sides strike up a conversation about Kopech. The White Sox are rebuilding and need as much young talent as possible. Meanwhile, it’s not like it would take a top-100 prospect from the Cubs farm system to get it done.

Other White Sox trade targets: John Brebbia, Steven Wilson

Tanner Scott

The Miami Marlins are already selling off and while the Cubs and White Sox seem like ideal trade partners, I think the Cubs and Marlins are a perfect tandem to work out a deal, especially if it’s for Tanner Scott.

I think this one would be less complicated, seeing that Scott will be a free agent following the 2024 season. Maybe it’s a bad comparison, but think about last season when the Cubs needed a bat at the deadline and they got the best hitter (at the time) in Jeimer Candelario. The Cubs gave up a couple prospects for a rental, but with a strong farm system it wasn’t a huge punch for the organizational depth.

That’s what I’m thinking here with Scott, who was awesome for the Marlins in 2023 and while he is walking a few too many batters this season the lefty is still putting up a 2.57 ERA and has only allowed one home run in 14 innings.

I’m still willing to bet that Scott’s early walk issues go away or at least go away enough for him to be viewed as a top reliever once again this year.

David Bednar

I’m going to put David Bednar into the same category as Mason Miller. These two have the best stuff, can probably make the most impact on the Cubs, but the chances of the Cubs trading for either are most likely low.

Sure, you do see trades happen within a division, but there’s a reason they’re rare. Even with his struggles so far in 2024, the Pirates can ask for a lot in a trade for Bednar, who is still under team control through the 2026 season. So, although Bruce Levine brought him up and the Cubs have had previous interest in Bednar, I just don’t see it happening.

Keep An Eye On These Team’s Relievers

At this point we have a pretty clear idea of the obvious sellers at the trade deadline: Marlins, White Sox, Rockies, Angels. However, there are definitely going to be a few other teams that could be surprise sellers come July.

The Houston Astros are currently 13-24 and in last place in the AL West division. No one is running away at the top, but if the Astors don’t dig themselves out the giant hole they find themselves in, then could Ryan Pressly all of a sudden be on the trade block?

Out in the AL East, the New York Yankees and Baltimore Orioles have separated themselves from the pack and that brings me to the Toronto Blue Jays, who are below .500 and might begin to blow up their roster this summer if things don’t improve. Yimi Garcia could become a rental option for the Cubs. The 33-year-old has been fantastic in 13 appearances, posting a 0.68 ERA with a 34 K% in 13.1 innings.

The Mets are currently hanging around at .500, but in the NL East that means being in a distant third place behind the Atlanta Braves and Philadelphia Phillies. The Cubs had interest this past offseason in veteran reliever Adam Ottavino, but he eventually went back to the Mets. He’s up there in age, 38, but the righty is still getting the job done, posting a 3.14 ERA so far in 2024, striking out 24 batters in 14.1 innings.

You can also add the A’s to this list. While they’ve been a surprise to begin the 2024 season, they’re beginning to show cracks and more teams will be calling as the season progresses. Now, Mason Miller is obviously the number one target from the A’s, but maybe an older guy like Austin Adams becomes a more reasonable candidate for the Cubs? Adams is a free agent after this season and the 33-year-old currently has a 1.42 ERA in 17 appearances.

And while Miller is getting all the love from fans, the A’s have another reliever who would cost less and is also under team control for several more years in righty Lucas Erceg. He might not average nearly 101mph like Miller, but Erceg can still pump up the fastball at 99mph and so far in 2024 the set-up man has 22 strikeouts in 15 innings of work, posting a 3.60 ERA in 15 appearances.

TL;DR – there are lots of good relievers that the Cubs can and should trade for in 2024.

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