The latest out of Wrigleyville…
- The Cubs’ acquisition of Nicholas Castellanos didn’t become a reality until around 20 minutes before yesterday’s 3pm CT trade deadline, 670 The Score’s Bruce Levine reports. The Cubs and Tigers had been in talks about Castellanos prior to Wednesday, though discussions didn’t reignite until almost literally the last minute, as the trade was finalized with eight minutes to spare. As Cubs GM Jed Hoyer told The Athletic’s Patrick Mooney and other reporters, the turning point was ownership’s decision to okay adding roughly $2.5MM of Castellanos’ remaining salary to Chicago’s payroll. The trade pushes the Cubs to the very edge of exceeding the $246MM maximum luxury tax penalty threshold, as Roster Resource estimates the Cubs’ luxury tax number as slightly less than $245.66MM.
- While the Cubs have played some inconsistent ball over the first four months, they’re still tied with the Cardinals atop the NL Central. Since the team was always in contention, Hoyer said his front office didn’t really think about a larger shake-up that would’ve seen Chicago subtract from its Major League roster. “There’s the idea-generation time and then there’s like: What deals are we actually going to work on? None of those deals actually made it to that point. Yeah, of course, people called about our players, but our focus was on trying to add to this group,” Hoyer said.
- While an official announcement has yet to come from the team, it is looking like Cole Hamels will be activated off the injured list to start Saturday’s game, MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian tweets. Hamels has been on the IL since June 29 due to an oblique strain, and has completed two rehab outings in the minors. Prior to his injury, the veteran southpaw was looking good in his first full season as a Cub, posting a 2.98 ERA, 8.76 K/9, 2.77 K/BB rate and a 51.1% grounder rate over 99 2/3 innings.
- Brandon Morrow’s status is much less certain, as Hoyer said that while the Cubs are still “cautiously optimistic” that the reliever will be able to contribute, it would “be foolish at this point to make any decisions assuming that he was going to be a big part of this bullpen.” Morrow hasn’t pitched since July 15, 2018 due to a biceps injury and then offseason elbow injury. The former closer has experienced at least one setback during his recovery process from that procedure, and with only two months remaining in the season, Morrow is running out of time to get healthy and fully prepared for a return to Major League action.