With the trade deadline just two weeks away, the Chicago Cubs are one of many teams that will be looking to strengthen their roster as the second half of the season gets underway.
With a weaker than usual market and a lot of teams still waffling on whether or not they want to be buyers or sellers, the Cubs have had to wait longer than they have in years past to make moves, and there are two relievers that keep popping up in connection to the team.
Those two relievers both pitch for the New York Yankees, as Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman represent the cream of the crop for bullpen help at this year’s deadline.
The problem for the Cubs isn’t one of resources with which to obtain help. Even with call-ups that have seen Willson Contreras and Albert Almora, Jr. ascend to the big league ranks, the team still has plenty of prospects that they could package as part of a deal to acquire the bullpen help that they need, and the Yankees could conceivably get a good return for one or both pitchers.
In the case of the Yankees, knowing that they have the market cornered for elite relievers at the deadline has given them a well-earned sense of greed, and there is one player that keeps popping up as their number one target: Cubs slugger Kyle Schwarber.
Although Schwarber is out for the year with a torn ACL, teams still marvel at his prodigious power, and they look at the fact that the Cubs will have to try to clear a spot on the field for him as a potential reason for prying him away from Chicago. Here is what Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports had to say:
“Cash (Yankees G.M. Brian Cashman) thinks he can hit 50 home runs there,” one source with knowledge of the Yankees’ plans said, and, well, that isn’t altogether farfetched. Schwarber is a 30-home run hitter in any park, presuming he comes back from the torn ACL that has sidelined him almost all of 2016.”
While the likelihood is that the Cubs won’t want to deal a player with 30-home run potential and five more years of team control (as Passan goes on to detail in the piece), the Cubs’ current offers to the Yankees haven’t been up to snuff, at least according to Jon Heyman of Today’s Knuckleball:
Even with that being the case (and Heyman’s tweet could well be an example of the Yankees using the media to try to up the pressure on the Cubs’ front office), the Cubs are likely going to say no to any swap involving Schwarber, even if both Miller and Chapman are part of the package coming back to Chicago. Relievers are a precious commodity in baseball, but with Chapman’s off-field issues and impending free agency, including the slugger in a deal isn’t likely to appeal to a Cubs front office that liked Schwarber enough to reach and draft him with the fourth overall pick in the 2014 MLB Draft.
That being said, not including Schwarber probably isn’t a deal-breaker when all is said and done. The Cubs still have prospects like Dan Vogelbach (whose path to the majors is blocked by Anthony Rizzo and an inability to play any position other than first base), Eloy Jimenez, and Ian Happ, and any combination of those players is probably superior to any deal the Yankees could get for Miller.