It’s always easy to overreact to one bad game.
But Friday’s bullpen meltdown might accelerate a process that the Cubs reportedly have already begun.
The Cubs have talked to numerous teams about adding quality starting pitching and bullpen help, sources said. Wilson, 29, has had a strong year in Detroit and has been on Chicago’s wish list lately. He’s a power pitcher with a 2.75 ERA, 0.94 WHIP and 50 strikeouts in 36 innings. He’s making $2.7 million this season, then will be arbitration eligible in the offseason and hit free agency after the 2018 season.
Another reliever Chicago has inquired about is the 27-year-old Hand, who has a 2.20 ERA and 62 strikeouts in 49 innings in San Diego. He’s under team control through 2019. Like with Wilson, there are a half-dozen or more clubs looking at Hand that believe he’d could be a nice setup man in a playoff push. He’s making $1.38 million this season and is arbitration eligible the next two years.
Like current Cubs closer Wade Davis, Hand didn’t have success as a starter but has now put together consecutive strong years out of the bullpen after the Marlins simply let him go on a waiver claim. This year, Hand’s performance got him selected as the Padres representative to the N.L. All-Star team.
The 27-year-old Hand is also under team control for two more years after 2017, which could be a key factor for Theo & Co.
Wilson, who turns 30 next month, has been a reliever throughout his six-year big-league career, and is controllable through 2018.
The Tigers, though, are in an interesting spot. They signaled they might be sellers at the deadline by trading J.D. Martinez to the Diamondbacks. But they open Saturday’s action just 5½ games out of first place. So do they try to win a division that’s probably even weaker than the N.L. Central, or do they begin a teardown and rebuild?
One other lefthanded reliever the Cubs have been linked to is the Orioles’ Zach Britton:
Industry source thinks Cubs will trade for Britton. “If you have a chance to add Britton to your club, you do it. Theo has the minor-lgrs."— Mark Feinsand (@Feinsand) July 17, 2017
Note that the quote in that tweet was made after the Cubs’ trade for Jose Quintana.
After a fantastic 2016 (0.54 ERA, 0.836 WHIP, 47 saves, no blown saves), Britton suffered a forearm injury that kept him out for more than two months. Since his return he hasn’t been great: seven innings, 1.857 WHIP, 5.14 ERA in seven appearances. He did throw two scoreless innings against the Cubs last year.
The Orioles are likely in sell mode, and Britton, also a converted starter, will turn 30 in December. Like Wilson, he can be a free agent after next year.
After the Cubs acquired Quintana, the farm system is in need of restocking, as noted in Josh’s article earlier this week. So it’s an open question whether the Cubs would have the prospects needed to acquire any of these lefthanded relievers.
Again, no team should make a trade as an overreaction to one bad game like Friday’s. Nevertheless, it cannot hurt to add quality relief pitching to a team hoping to make a long postseason run. The Yankees did that the other day when they dealt for David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle.
And the Cubs could do the same. Nine days remain until the non-waiver trade deadline.