Monday, April 22, 2024

Cub Fans Might Be Focusing On The Wrong Mets Pitcher

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The trade deadline is looming, and no, the Jesse Chavez addition won’t be Cubs biggest move.

Speaking of big moves, the best player that the Cubs have been linked to in recent weeks is Mets ace Jacob deGrom.

The “deGrom to the Cubs?” floodgates have opened and they won’t shut until the trade deadline passes.

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The subject is worthy of discussion, but it would likely take at least two key players from the big league roster to get a deal done, plus prospects. Whether or not the Cubs would give up that much for him (they probably should) is a separate discussion, because there’s no guarantee that another team out there couldn’t beat that offer anyway.

With that being said, if the Mets do in fact trade deGrom, that means they’re open for business, and he’s not their only interesting arm.

“Wheeler is viewed, by far, as the Mets starter most likely to be dealt. He’s already thrown his most innings since 2014, timing health and a strong performance (3.50 ERA/.614 OPS against in his past 10 starts) at a good time, especially because without an ace in the marketplace .”

Thanks to injuries, the 28-year-old Wheeler hasn’t been able to live up to the lofty expectations that were set for him when he entered the big leagues.

But he’s healthy now and that’s what matters, and he fits this Cubs roster in more ways than one.

Besides walking too many people, the starting staff’s biggest issues have been not pitching deep enough into games and not getting enough strikeouts. Wheeler is averaging six innings a start while striking out a batter per inning.

He’s a free agent after the 2019 season, so the Cubs wouldn’t have to overpay for years of control in a trade. Most importantly, Wheeler could probably be had without trading anyone from the major league roster.

Also, speaking of 2019, assuming Yu Darvish enters Spring Training healthy, the Cubs will have just one open rotation spot for Wheeler, Mike Montgomery, or Tyler Chatwood. Obviously, Chatwood’s command may never come back (and it was never that good in the first place), but the team still has an additional $26M invested in him so he’ll get every chance to prove himself. Mongomery has shown his worth in the bullpen, but he’s been adamant about his desire to start and he’s shown to be plenty capable of being a productive #5 starter.

With a history of injury issues and a fastball that he throws over 96mph on average, a move to the bullpen for Wheeler would make sense. He probably wouldn’t be crazy about the idea, given that starters tend to make more in free agency, but a move to the pen could end up being the best thing for the longevity of his career. Look no further than to 34-year-old Cubs closer and former top prospect Brandon Morrow to find an example of this plan working out.

There haven’t been any reports (yet) that have specifically linked the Cubs to Wheeler, but if they’re asking about deGrom they’re surely inquiring about Wheeler’s availability as well.

It wouldn’t be quite as surprising or impactful as last season’s Jose Quintana trade, but I sure wouldn’t mind waking up to the news that Zach Wheeler is a Cub.

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