The MLB trade deadline hits in just over a week, and trade rumors are at a slow-drip rate. Players going back in return have to be in the specified player pool, and few of those players are thought of dismissively. Nonetheless, teams in contention (like the Cubs) might want to upgrade their bullpen by September 1. With that in mind, I'm bullish on the Cubs giving reliever Matt Dermody a chance before the trade deadline.
You're forgiven if you're unfamiliar with the lefty reliever from the University of Iowa. A Norwalk, Iowa native, Dermody grew up a Cubs fan. Tommy Birch wrote an informative article on him. However, an article and a cultivated fandom don't justify a look at the MLB level.
Dermody was drafted by four MLB organizations. His reputation preceded his entrance into affiliated ball. He moved through the Toronto system, and even faced the Cubs once in 2017. Perhaps you remember the game.
As noted in the Birch article, injuries shortened, then ended, Dermody's stay in Toronto. Now at the Cubs alternate training site in South Bend, Dermody is in one of three distinct groups of players looking to be added to the 40-man roster, which has fewer options for callups with a 28 player limit than when it was 25. (The Cubs at this writing have only six players "on the 40", but "off the 28.")
One group is the still-developing prospects, such as Cory Abbott or Brailyn Marquez. A second grouping includes the very veteran Cody Allen or Kelvin Herrera. The first pairing is of players who will remain on the 40-man roster well into the future upon their addition. Herrera and Allen will be free agents, either way, come November. Even if either is successful, the Cubs will have to outbid the league to keep them.
Dermody is more similar to the gamble the Cubs took regarding Robel Garcia last season. If Dermody is successful (I'm thinking along the lines of "similar to Brad Wieck last season”), the Cubs will be able to retain him into 2021 at league minimum for the cost of a 40-man spot. If he's any good, he potentially has future value. If he seems rather mundane, he gets DFA’d, and the team tries again, perhaps with one of the other four. Am I saying Dermody will succeed? No, I'm noting there's an upside with him in a best-case scenario not present with Allen or Herrera, both of whom are also right-handed.
If trades are a tougher option than usual in 2020 than normal, utilizing the alternate training site options seems reasonable. Dermody is a lefty with MLB experience. I'm more interested in him getting a low-leverage look than some of the other options in South Bend. Until the alternate training site has more players that I'm more willing to see the Cubs trade, I'd prefer to try Matt Dermody in the bullpen.