The latest from around the NL Central…
- “Pitching is our main need” heading into the trade deadline, Theo Epstein told 670 The Score’s Bruce Levine and other reporters. The Cubs were known to be looking for bullpen help even before Brandon Morrow hit the DL with biceps inflammation, and since Morrow’s injury isn’t expected to keep him out for long, Epstein said that the closer’s absence didn’t impact the team’s deadline plans. Yu Darvish’s return from the DL theoretically helps a rotation that has been inconsistent, though Epstein gave a realistic view of what Darvish could contribute, given the right-hander’s own struggles this season. “You can’t be overly reliant on someone who hasn’t been able to go out there and perform this year….if you put yourself in a position where you are overly reliant and defending on it at this point, it is on you then,” Epstein said.
- Beyond pitching, Epstein also noted that “we will probably look in August for someone who can play defense or steal a bag.” He predicted multiple moves prior to September 1, and felt the team would make one more trade prior to the July 31 deadline. Though the president of baseball operations doesn’t “think it’s impossible” that the Cubs make a big-ticket transactions, smaller deals seem more likely, as Epstein felt “we are going to be a little more selective and opportunistic” with their options after dealing top prospects in other trades in recent years. For instance, the Athletic’s Patrick Mooney writes that it seems “highly unlikely” that the Cubs would move catching prospect Miguel Amaya for a rental player like Baltimore’s Zach Britton.
- With the Pirates on a run of 10 wins in their last 11 games, GM Neal Huntington said in a radio appearance today (hat tip to Stephen J. Nesbitt of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette) that his team “would love to add” at the trade deadline. “If there’s something out there that makes sense and makes us better, we’re absolutely open to that,” Huntington said. The Pirates are still just a modest 51-49 on the season and are battling several other teams in a crowded NL playoff picture, though the Bucs are now four games back of the Braves for the final wild card slot (and 4.5 games behind the struggling Brewers, who hold the first wild card position).
- Jose Martinez’s poor defense has made him a part-time player with the Cardinals, despite 13 homers and a .295/.361/.471 slash line this season. Martinez tells Ben Frederickson of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that he understands the team’s decision, and that he “would love to be a Cardinal for my career” even though he seems far more suited for a DH role with an American League team. With the Cards not really positioned to be buyers or sellers, Frederickson suggests that the club could approach the coming trade deadline as “an overdue round of roster maintenance that addresses the easiest-to-solve problems and optimizes returns on pieces that don’t fit into the puzzle moving forward.” This would include dealing Martinez, as “his value to AL teams might never be higher” given his current success and his long-term controllability through the 2022 season.