The Cubs are currently utilizing a mix of Hector Rondon, Pedro Strop, Justin Grimm, Jason Motte, Edwin Jackson, James Russell, Zac Rosscup and Travis Wood in the ’pen. To date, Chicago relievers have combined for a 3.68 ERA that ranks 20th in the Majors, though the eventual return of Neil Ramirez and the addition of Soriano could improve those results.
Additionally, Rondon appears to have lost the confidence of manager Joe Maddon recently. The 27-year-old began the season as the team’s closer after performing well in that role in 2014, but he was lifted from his June 6 outing after facing just one batter — a leadoff walk to Anthony Rendon — and he worked in a setup capacity the following night, with Motte earning the save.
The Cubs figure to be one of many teams hunting for bullpen help over the course of the summer, and they’re at least the third team to reportedly be seeking trades for relievers in the past week alone. Yankees GM Brian Cashman recently stated that he “needs” to find a right-handed reliever for his bullpen, and the Braves are also interested in bulking up in the ’pen, though for now they’ll hope that the addition of righty David Aardsma can help to solidify things.
The Cubs could take a look at righty David Carpenter, who was designated for assignment by the Yankees last week. Carpenter’s struggled in 2015 but maintained strong velocity and was excellent for the 2013-14 Braves. The Marlins are one team that has been recently linked to Carpenter. Other than Carpenter, however, there aren’t many relief options in DFA limbo.
Looking elsewhere, Milwaukee and Philadelphia are the most commonly cited potential sellers, and each has high-priced assets that would be appealing to shed for a rebuilding club (e.g. Jonathan Papelbon, Jonathan Broxton and, perhaps, Francisco Rodriguez). With Cincinnati continuing to slip in the division — they’re currently 12 back from first place — one could envision the Reds becoming sellers as well. Of course, Cincinnati’s bullpen is a large reason for the club’s struggles (though Aroldis Chapman would be an intriguing trade candidate if made available), and trades with either the Reds or Brewers could be complicated if any of the three teams are reluctant to make an intra-division swap.