Monday, April 22, 2024

Cubs Remain Interested in Trading for All-Star Closer

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The Chicago Cubs are still searching for a high-leverage arm to add to their bullpen and according to MLB insider Bruce Levine the Cubs remain interested in trading for all-star closer Emmanuel Clase.

This isn’t the first time Clase’s name has been connected to the Cubs this offseason, as earlier in the offseason they were linked to the Cleveland Guardians reliever along with first baseman Josh Naylor. Well, the Cubs have already addressed their need at first base with the addition of Los Angeles Dodgers prospect Michael Busch, but the back end of the bullpen remains a question mark.

Adbert Alzolay did an admirable job as the Cubs closer in 2023, taking over as the ninth-inning man mid-way through the season. Alzolay was 22-of-25 in save opportunities and posted a 2.67 ERA with a 1.02 WHIP in 64 innings. You can make an argument that the Cubs advance to the playoffs if Alzolay wouldn’t have gone down with a forearm strain in September.

Nevertheless, the Cubs are looking for good value and Clase would certainly fit that profile, seeing that the 25-year-old is under contract through the 2026 season at $4 million per year. His deal also includes club options worth $10 million for 2027 and 2028.

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Via Audacy.

The Cubs have interest in 25-year-old Guardians closer Emmanuel Clase on the trade market, sources said. Clase has led MLB in saves in each of the past two seasons, compiling 86 saves in that stretch. Clase has a 2.00 ERA, 0.97 WHIP and a 4.92 strikeout-to-walk ratio for his career. He’s been one of the elite bullpen arms for years, though his ERA increased to 3.22 in 2023 and his velocity was down a tick, which could be something to consider moving forward.

Despite a step back in 2023 for Clase with the Guardians, the hard-throwing righty saved 44 games, striking out 64 batters in 72.2 innings. Clase is a two-time All-Star, making the American League team the past two years. The closer was the 2022 MLB reliever of the year and has made an MLB first and second team in his last couple years in Cleveland.

By now you can probably assume that the Cubs and Guardians have exchanged names or the Cubs at least know what players Cleveland is interested in if they do indeed deal Clase to Chicago.

The Cubs do have a strong minor league system to trade from. The last top prospect list that was released has the Cubs with 9 of the top 101 prospects over at Baseball Prospectus.

So, it might be a matter of the Cubs deciding between a few guys when having trade talks with the Guardians for Clase. Also, those talks have most certainly changed because as mentioned before, the Cubs were at once looking at Naylor as well. The Cubs were also reportedly interested in right-handed starting pitcher Shane Bieber, but those rumors have come to a halt in the past month.

As we’ve seen this offseason, the Cubs are comfortable being patient and won’t rush to make a move. While Clase remains on their radar, they’re also monitoring the free agent market of top available closer Josh Hader and may be waiting to see his price come down according to Levine.

Many around the industry believe Hader is looking for a five-year contract in the range of $100 million. If a five-year deal isn’t there for the 29-year-old Hader, that may allow the Cubs to get involved in the negotiations.

Just as fans expected the Cubs to add a few bats this offseason, a few additions to the bullpen should also be in store heading into the 2024 season. A big name at closer might be a realistic option at this point.

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KateyThom
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