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Cubs Trade Scenarios, Part 2: Lefthanded relievers

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The Cubs acquired a righthanded reliever Thursday. But are they still in the market for a lefty?

MLB: Texas Rangers at Baltimore Orioles Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

While the Cubs acquired swingman Jesse Chavez late Thursday night, I would be shocked if he’s the only addition Theo and Co. make at the deadline this year. Chaves is a 34-year-old right handed pitcher who’s a free agent at the end of the year, and it’s difficult to imagine him making much of an impact over the next two months. Assuming that the Cubs are not 100 percent confident in Justin Wilson, Brian Duensing and Mike Montgomery (if he returns to relief) as the only southpaws out of the pen, here are a few names that the Cubs could be eying here in the next 12 days.

RP Adam Conley for OF Mark Zagunis and SP Tyson Miller: Conley is somewhat of an under the radar trade candidate since he plays 81 games in Miami, but after converting to a fulltime bullpen role this season, he’s been one Miami’s best relievers. Conley sports a 2.88 ERA while striking out nearly 11 batters per nine innings. Conley’s average fastball velocity this year has skyrocketed since he’s no longer a starter, clocking in at 95.5 miles per hour from the left-hand side. Lefties only own a .492 OPS against Conley this year, and he’s holding right-handed batters to just a .535 OPS, so he’s equally effective against batters form both sides of the plate. Conley will begin arbitration this winter, and with the Marlins in the first year of what looks to be a long rebuild, they might have some incentive to move him this July, even though he still has three more years of control after this season. Acquiring Conley wouldn’t be a sexy name like Brad Hand or Zach Britton, but he could be a sneaky good upgrade for the Cubs. Zagunis has been a mainstay at Triple-A since 2016, and he doesn’t have anything else to prove after posting an .853 OPS and an .859 OPS in 2016 and 2017 respectively. This year, his OPS is down to .727, but his OBP sits at .384. Zagunis has an elite eye at the plate, and while he probably won't ever hit for more than 15 home runs in a season, his OBP should be enough to make him an intriguing prospect. Miller, a fourth-round pick in the 2016 MLB Draft is having a solid season in High-A Myrtle Beach, pitching to the tune of an 8-6 record with a 3.62 ERA and a 9.4 K/9 rate. He’s still a few years away, but it wouldn’t shock me if he’s a top 30 prospect next year in whatever system he finds himself playing for.

CP Zach Britton for C Miguel Amaya and SP Thomas Hatch: Britton didn’t make his first appearance this season until June 12 thanks to a torn Achilles tendon in December last year. Since coming back, Britton has had to shake off some rust, but it’s beginning look like he’s regaining the stuff that made him one of the most dominant relievers in baseball over the past couple years. Britton owns a 3.68 ERA this season, but it’s inflated by two outings in which he gave up four and two runs in each appearance. In Britton’s 13 other appearances this year, he’s pitched 13⅓ innings without surrendering a run, including his last seven outings. Britton’s velocity is a bit down this season as he boasts a 94.5 miles per hour sinker average this year, compared to his 96.7 miles per hour career norm as a reliever. With that being said, Britton’s velocity has seen an uptick over the past three weeks, averaging 95.2 miles per hour on his sinker. Britton will be a free agent at the end of the season, but if he can get back to his usual self, he could have an Aroldis Chapman-like effect on this team. Even though Britton isn’t as overpowering as he has been in the past, the potential for him to return to that level will make him expensive to acquire, even if he’s a rental. It’s been a breakout year for Migeul Amaya in Single-A South Bend, as he has hit .276/.343/.471 with 12 homers as a 19-year-old. Amaya would immediately become the top catching prospect in an Orioles system that is devoid of talent behind the plate. Amaya is blocked for the foreseeable future with both Willson Contreras and Victor Caratini on the major league roster, and now could be the time to sell high on him. Hatch is a nearly-ready innings eater that has the ceiling of a no. 4 starter, providing potential help to a rotation that ranks 28th in all of baseball in terms of ERA.

RP Will Smith for 3B David Bote and SP Brendon Little: Could the Giants be sellers this year? They sit in fourth place in the National League West, but they’re only four games behind the Dodgers for first place. The Giants own one of the oldest rosters in baseball, and a rebuild appears to be imminent. Maybe the Giants come out hot in the second half, but their first nine games are against the Athletics, the Mariners, and the Brewers, all of whom are well above .500. Additionally, the Giants are outperforming their pythagorean W-L by four games, suggesting that the team is due for some regression in the second half. If the Giants do decide to sell, Will Smith would become one of the top arms available at the deadline. Smith missed all of last year after undergoing Tommy John surgery, but he’s been absolutely lights out in 2018. Smith owns a 1.23 ERA to go along with three saves, a 12.3 K/9 rate, a 0.784 WHIP, and a 325 ERA+. Smith isn’t just effective against left-handed hitters either, righties own just a .422 OPS against him this year. Smith’s velocity is right in line with his career average, so there doesn’t appear to be any lingering arm issues. The 29-year-old will be a free agent at the end of the 2019 season, so, unlike Britton, he is more than just a rental. Smith would immediately become the Cubs’ best lefty out of the pen and would challenge Carl Edwards Jr. and Pedro Strop for the eighth-inning duties. Bote has emerged as an intriguing player for the Cubs, accumulating 0.7 fWAR in just 20 games this year. While Bote is a third baseman by trade, he can fill in at any of the four infield positions in a pinch, but probably has a big league future at either 3rd base or 2nd base. Evan Longoria won’t be a free agent util 2023, so the hot corner in San Francisco will be occupied for a while. However, Joe Panik look to be expendable at second. This year, Panik owns a -0.5 bWAR and a wRC+ of 81, so Bote could look to displace Panik at season’s end. Little, the former 27th overall pick in the 2017 MLB Draft has struggled this year in Single-A South Bend, pitching to a 5.05 ERA. He still offers a ton of upside, however, even if he only pans out as a reliever.

Poll

Which of these trades would you like to see the most?

This poll is closed

  • 31%
    Adam Conley
    (162 votes)
  • 35%
    Zach Britton
    (184 votes)
  • 16%
    Will Smith
    (87 votes)
  • 15%
    None, the bullpen is fine as it is
    (82 votes)
515 votes total Vote Now