The Cubs swung what might be the biggest deal of the summer yesterday by acquiring Jose Quintana for a prospect package headline by Eloy Jimenez and Dylan Cease, but they’re still interested in A’s right-hander Sonny Gray, reports Jon Morosi of MLB.com (Twitter link). Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports and MLB Network tweets the same sentiment, that the Cubs are “pursuing” Gray despite having already added Quintana.
The Cubs’ acquisition of Quintana left them without two of their top prospects, though the Cubs still have a number of appealing young players. Infielder Jeimer Candelario ranks among the game’s Top 100 prospects over at MLB.com, and ESPN’s Keith Law recently noted that pitching prospect Adbert Alzolay and Oscar De La Cruz have seen their stock rise quite a bit this season.
Chicago also has a number of young position players already at the MLB level, though there’s been considerable doubt cast on their willingness to deal players that have already played their way into prominent roles on the Major League roster. If the team is to make a serious run at Gray, however, that may well be what is required of president Theo Epstein and GM Jed Hoyer.
It’s not necessarily clear that the Cubs are aggressively chasing Gray, who is controllable via arbitration through the 2019 campaign. Rosenthal tweets that it’s not yet known how hard they’ll push to bring Gray into the fold, though their openness to the notion is interesting all the same. Acquiring both Quintana and Gray would line the Cubs up for a rotation featuring that pair, Jon Lester and Kyle Hendricks for at least the next three years, and while Gray’s price figures to rise, it should be more manageable than filling the spots of Jake Arrieta and John Lackey via free agency when that pair reaches the open market this offseason. That could be a key for the Cubs, who will see Kris Bryant, Addison Russell, Javier Baez, Hendricks, Kyle Schwarber, Carl Edwards Jr. and others reach arbitration eligibility in the next two years.