The Chicago Cubs could be in for significant changes this offseason, and trade talks surrounding one of their best players could be a major storyline.
ESPN’s Jeff Passan suggested that the Cubs could listen to trade offers for third baseman Kris Bryant during the winter. He cites people inside the organization who believe that a “big shake-up” could be necessary, with the team believed to be underachieving in 2019. While lame duck manager Joe Maddon could be a casualty of that belief, there are reasons to believe that Bryant could at least be trade bait.
Passan notes that the Cubs would like to replenish their farm system. Bryant is a client of agent Scott Boras, who is known for taking players he represents to free agency. The third baseman will remain under team control through the 2021 season. With two years of team control left, this winter may be a tempting time for the Cubs to gauge the market for him.
There is no guarantee Bryant gets traded, and it appears to be informed speculation at this point. With another of the league’s young stars in the same boat, however, it’s probably worth paying attention to.
The Chicago Cubs’ two-year deal with Brandon Morrow will end with him providing a half-season of pitching.
Cubs president Theo Epstein confirmed that Morrow will be shut down for the season after failing to come back from elbow surgery. Epstein also took the blame for the fact that the two-year, $21 million deal that Morrow signed didn’t work out as envisioned.
Morrow, who has long had issues with injuries, underwent what was supposed to be a straightforward elbow cleanup during the offseason. Morrow was originally supposed to return in May, but his rehab was slowed down in April, and he simply wasn’t able to come back.
The Chicago Cubs have been steadfast in their refusal to discuss a new contract with Joe Maddon, who is in the final year of the five-year contract he signed when joining the organization. That doesn’t mean Maddon sees no future in Chicago, though.
Maddon said Sunday his optimism is “very high” that the Cubs will give him a new contract, even as the team sits a modest 1.5 games ahead of the Milwaukee Brewers in the NL Central.
“It’s very high, yeah,” Maddon said, via Jordan Bastian of MLB.com. “Very high. Very, very high. I’m operating in that I believe we’ll be together for a couple more years at least.”
Maddon’s confidence comes despite the fact that the front office has been unhappy at various points about the team’s progress this season. It’s entirely possible he has some private assurances, but you’d still think a division title is imperative.
The Chicago Cubs are 21-33 on the road and have not been able to win a series away from Wrigley Field since May, and that’s not good enough for team president Theo Epstein.
Epstein said Friday that the team is “embarrassed” that they have not won a road series since May 17-19, when they took two out of three in Washington against the Nationals.
“We’re all embarrassed about not winning a road series since May 20,” Epstein said, via Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune. “And we’ve lost every single road series against a division opponent this year. Seven series, seven series losses.
“As talented as we are, if we don’t fix that, we’re not going anywhere. So it’s a huge priority for us and we all feel like we’ve underperformed on the road and that needs to change. That’s the reality of it. There is no sugarcoating that at this point of the year. It’s gone on so long, you can’t just look past it. We have to try some different things and improve our performance on the road.”
It’s another indication of Epstein’s growing frustration with the Cubs, who have fallen a game behind the St. Louis Cardinals in the NL Central. The team did not make a blockbuster move at the trade deadline, so they’re relying on what they have. It’s not clear what changes Epstein has in mind, and even he admitted that he’s not sure, but if the Cubs were merely .500 on the road, they’d be comfortably ahead in the division.
Joe Maddon means business for the Chicago Cubs now.
The MLB trade deadline has passed and we are now in August. Accordingly, Maddon says the time to play players for developmental purposes is over and “it’s big boy time” now.
The Cubs have already sent struggling Addison Russell down to the minors. They acquired Tony Kemp from Houston and Nicholas Castellanos from Detroit in deadline trades. On Thursday, Kemp was starting at second base and Castellanos in right field against the Cardinals.
Albert Almora Jr. (25) and David Bote (26) are two of the younger players who are likely to see a reduction in playing time. 24-year-old Ian Happ may see the same fate. None of the three players have a batting average higher than .246 this season.
The Cubs and Cardinals entered Thursday’s game tied for the division lead. This is a big season for the Cubs, who are under immense pressure to perform.
Nicholas Castellanos is leaving the Detroit Tigers, just as he wanted to do.
According to reports, Castellanos has been traded to the Chicago Cubs in a deal that just narrowly beat the trade deadline.
Castellanos had actually been in the Tigers’ lineup for Wednesday afternoon’s game, but was pulled from the game while on deck, making it clear that a trade had been agreed upon.
Castellanos is hitting .273 with 11 home runs this season. He’s not known as a great defensive player, which could be an issue in the NL, but he has played both third base and right field in his career and has shown a willingness to learn other positions.
The 27-year-old recently made clear his feelings about playing at Comerica Park. He now gets to go to Wrigley Field, which may be more to his liking.
It is a seller’s market in Major League Baseball this July. The bulk of MLB teams can at least claim to be in contention, sitting within five games of either the division or a wild card spot, and that means a lot of teams are going to be competing for limited resources ahead of the July 31 trade deadline.
Sure, most contenders would probably like to upgrade. But which ones really need to most of all? Here are ten teams that most need to make a move with the deadline looming.
10. Houston Astros
On the surface, the Astros would seem to have everything, sitting comfortably in first place in the AL West. However, they could use another starter behind the devastating 1-2 punch of Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole. It won’t be the end of the world if the Astros opt to stand pat, but in a loaded American League, their best shot at matching up with the Yankees may be to load up on pitching and put their aces up against their playoff rivals. Plus, some of their players are eager for reinforcements.
The All-Star break is a good time to step back and assess where the 30 teams across Major League Baseball stand. Some teams comfortably occupy first place, some are facing a second half of playing out a string of meaningless games, and then there is the group caught in the middle.
In the past, second half runs have been a big part of baseball. Teams that hadn’t really made an impression by mid-July can catch fire and change the scope of the division and playoff picture in a hurry in the second half. After all, there’s a long way to go, and there’s no guarantee that the first place teams now will win the division.
Here are eight teams that had decent first halves, but have the capability to make some real noise in the second half of the MLB season.
8. Arizona Diamondbacks
There’s a lot to like about the Diamondbacks, which rank in the top six in the NL in both OPS and ERA. In other words, they’re a well-balanced team that can both hit and pitch rather effectively. Despite their 46-45 record, they’ve scored 64 more runs than they’ve allowed, indicating a team that should be performing significantly better. They have two good power hitters in Ketel Marte and Eduardo Escobar, an ace in Zack Grienke, and solid pieces in the bullpen. Don’t be surprised to see them play to a higher level after the All-Star break.
The Chicago Cubs are 8-14 since sweeping the St. Louis Cardinals in early June, and team president Theo Epstein is clearly not happy about it.
On Wednesday, Epstein threatened to make “a ton of change” if things don’t turn around, and ducked a question about the performance of manager Joe Maddon.
When asked specifically about Maddon, who is in the final year of his contract, Epstein declined to single him out, but didn’t exactly offer him a vote of confidence.
The Cubs are 45-41 and second in the NL Central. With Maddon in a contract year and Epstein previously suggesting there would be big changes if there wasn’t sufficient improvement in 2019, the manager seems as though he needs a lot more in the last three months of the season to secure his status going forward.
Chicago Cubs reliever Pedro Strop called Yasiel Puig “stupid” after a bench-clearing confrontation on Saturday, but it’s the Cincinnati Reds who got the last laugh on Sunday.
Puig scored the Reds’ fifth run to give them a two-run lead in the bottom of the eighth in Sunday’s game, and the team’s Twitter account immediately took aim at Strop’s comments in a clever way.
Strop had a lot to say about Puig on Saturday after a Cubs win. With the Reds on their way to victory Sunday, they had the right to have the last word, even if Strop didn’t feature in the contest. It’s pretty funny, and it’s a nice way to escalate what is turning into a minor rivalry, at least among fans.