With the teams in the midst of an interesting series at Wrigley Field, Cubs GM Jed Hoyer discussed the oft-speculated match between his club and the Mets, with the former blessed with numerous young middle infielders and the latter possessing a number of appealing young arms. Hoyer acknowledged that there have been discussions between the clubs. “We haven’t made a deal yet, but there’s been matches that made sense, and I’m sure we’ll talk to them in the future,” said Hoyer. Though the Chicago executive noted that it remains likely that the clubs will match up on a deal of some kind “at some point,” it remains unclear whether there is any realistic possibility of traction on a significant deal involving their best respective talent.
- While plenty of water has passed under the bridge in the meantime, the Mets did ask the Cubs about the availability of top shortstop prospect Addison Russell at more than one point over the winter, John Harper of the New York Daily News writes. But talks never moved on that front, as Chicago made clear it was not interested in dealing its newly-acquired blue chip piece. The report, along with the team’s aggressive promotion of Russell to man second base at the big league level, obviously suggests that the Cubs’ internal assessment of Russell meets or exceeds that of the industry as a whole. Indeed, Jesse Rogers of ESPNChicago.com opines that a trade of Starlin Castro — possibly, to the Mets — and commitment to Russell makes good sense for the Cubs, at least in the long term.
- Both clubs are, of course, set to get a good look at the Mets’ own best prospect, Noah Syndergaard, as he squares off against Russell and company tonight in the first start off his big league career. MLB.com’s Phil Rogers writes that the ascension of Syndergaard is a clear sign that New York is ready to compete — and to do so on its own terms. “It’s been tough,” skipper Terry Collins said yesterday. “There have been times there are big names out there [available in trades or free agency] and we said, ’We have to hold tight, we have to be patient. Our guys are coming, and when they get here, we’re going to be good for a long period of time.’ And I think that time is right around the corner. I hope it starts tomorrow.” As is the case with Russell, these comments seem to indicate that New York is hopeful that a rising Syndergaard will help drive the club in the immediate term — even in spite of an already quite productive rotation — which certainly reduces the already-low chance that he will be considered as a trade chip. They also provide further reminder that Mets GM Sandy Alderson has been quite selective in striking trades, preferring for the time being to monitor the development of internal talent while adding additional young pieces (quite successfully, of late) when the timing proved beneficial.
- For my money, while attention is focused on the matter now, Chicago would be wise to wait until the last possible moment to decide whether to move a middle infield piece this summer. Much depends upon the information gathered in the meantime on the team’s ultimate postseason likelihood and specific needs, the readiness of Russell, and the development of Javier Baez and Arismendy Alcantara. As a large market club with rising payroll capacity, Chicago can afford to wait to make its moves. Similarly, the Mets are right to take more time in assessing Wilmer Flores at short — to say nothing of watching Dilson Herrera at second and seeing how David Wright responds to his rehab — and getting a better read on their own playoff prospects this year. It remains possible to imagine a scenario where these clubs match up over the summer, or perhaps more plausibly next winter, but the connection remains highly conditional as things stand.