The Cubs have had more talks about acquiring starting pitching than they have position players, though they would also like to add a left-handed hitting outfielder if the price is right, FOX Sports’ Jon Paul Morosi reports.
Jake Arrieta, Jason Hammel, Jon Lester and Kyle Hendricks have all posted good to excellent results as Chicago’s top four starters, though the fifth spot has been a problem area. Tsuyoshi Wada has been effective when healthy but the southpaw is currently on the DL for the second time this season, while Travis Wood struggled in seven starts. Clayton Richard was acquired from the Pirates on Friday and threw a quality start on Saturday, though it’s hard to see Chicago counting on Richard as a stable option.
It’s possible the Cubs could target a big name on the pitching market, as Morosi writes that the team hopes to have an ace in the fold by the start of next season. To this end, the Cubs would prefer to acquire a pitcher under contract beyond this season (i.e. Cole Hamels) rather than a rental like Johnny Cueto, as if they get their top-of-the-rotation arm now, that would save them having to spend more time and money pursuing the likes of David Price in free agency this winter.
Morosi cites the Brewers’ Gerardo Parra and the Padres’ Will Venable as “two names to watch” as possible Cubs targets for their outfield need. Either would spell the switch-hitting Dexter Fowler against right-handed pitching. Fowler carried a tough .232/.308/.379 line into today’s action thanks in large part to a .660 OPS in 281 plate appearances against righties (but a healthy .833 OPS in 55 PA against lefties). Given the abundance of right-handed starters in the NL Central, a righty-mashing bat is a clear need for the Cubs.
Shortstop has become another problem area, as Starlin Castro’s below-replacement level season (-0.3 fWAR entering today) makes Morosi wonder if Chicago would consider getting a veteran middle infielder to pair with Addison Russell. The problem is that Castro has minimal trade value right now given his poor performance and the roughly $41MM owed to him through the 2019 season.