Chicago Cubs – MLB Trade Rumors 2018-08-21T06:00:47Z WordPress Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Yu Darvish Suffers Setback]]> 2018-08-19T20:37:40Z 2018-08-19T20:24:23Z Cubs right-hander Yu Darvish hasn’t taken a major league mound since May 20, which may prove to be his final outing of the season. Darvish, who has been on the shelf for three months because of triceps and elbow injuries, left his Single-A rehab start on Sunday after throwing just one inning, Matthew Martell of was among those to report. Darvish came out for the second inning, but he “was seen wincing” during his warmup, Martell writes, before indicating to the dugout that he needed to exit.

While Darvish had been making progress in recent weeks, this is now the second setback the 32-year-old has suffered since June 28, when he experienced pain during a bullpen session. Darvish’s departure Sunday came as a result of the same discomfort as his previous setback, Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune tweets, adding that his next step is to go for an MRI.

Darvish is still holding out hope for a return in 2018, per Gonzales, but given the nature of his injury and the lack of time remaining in the campaign, that may not be realistic. If Darvish’s season is indeed over, it’ll go down as a disastrous year for someone who was widely regarded as the majors’ top free agent last winter. The Cubs signed the former Ranger and Dodger to a six-year, $126MM guarantee expecting him to continue serving as a front-line starter, but he has instead tossed just 40 innings in eight starts this season and posted a personal-worst ERA (4.95), FIP (4.86), xFIP (4.23) and walk rate (4.73 per nine).

Despite Darvish’s lack of contributions, the Cubs still lead the NL Central by four games over the archrival Cardinals, though it has been a less-than-ideal year in general for Chicago’s starting staff. Like Darvish, fellow established starters Jon Lester, Kyle Hendricks and Jose Quintana have failed to produce great results, with ERAs ranging from 3.72 to 4.46 and a combined fWAR of 2.8 among the three of them. However, they’ve been downright ace-like compared to Tyler Chatwood, another of the Cubs’ disappointing free-agent signings from last winter.

Chatwood, whom the Cubs signed to a three-year, $38MM contract, owns a 5.22 ERA/5.56 FIP with a ghastly 8.23 walks per nine over 101 2/3 innings. The Cubs pulled him from their rotation a few weeks ago, only to start him again Saturday in what ended up as a two-inning, three-run, three-walk performance during a loss to Pittsburgh. Afterward, Patrick Mooney of The Athletic (subscription required) wrote that it’s tough to imagine Chatwood “throwing another meaningful pitch this season.” But whether that’ll be the case remains to be seen, especially considering the injuries to Darvish and effective swingman Mike Montgomery – who went to the disabled list Friday with shoulder inflammation.

For now, the saving grace of the Cubs’ rotation looks to be lefty Cole Hamels, whom they acquired in a trade with the Rangers prior to last month’s non-waiver deadline. Hamels, a longtime front-end starter, was mediocre for Texas this season, but he has been utterly brilliant as a Cub. Across four starts, the 34-year-old has logged an incredible .72 ERA with a 2.40 FIP, 8.28 K/9, 2.16 BB/9 and a 59 percent groundball rate.

Considering the shaky state of their rotation and their surmountable lead on a playoff spot, it’s possible the Cubs will look for more help on the trade market in the coming weeks. It would be difficult to make an impactful move, though, particularly with the NL playoff race being a crowded one and the Cubs behind several postseason hopefuls (including three division rivals) in the waiver pecking order.

[RELATED: How August Trades Work]

Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Could The Cubs Exercise Cole Hamels' Options?]]> 2018-08-19T18:31:02Z 2018-08-19T18:31:02Z
  • Cole Hamels has been nothing short of excellent since joining the Cubs, posting a microscopic 0.72 ERA over his first 25 innings with the team.  With Hamels pitching like an ace again, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News wonders if this could bode well for the Rangers, as Texas wouldn’t be on the hook for the $6MM buyout of Hamels’ $20MM option for 2019 if Chicago decided to exercise that option.  There are some complications, Grant notes, as the Cubs may not want to spend that much on a pitcher who turns 35 in December, no matter how well Hamels performs down the stretch.  The Cubs already have quite a bit of money tied up in their rotation, and keeping Hamels would put them in danger of surpassing the luxury tax threshold (MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes has written in the past about the Cubs’ strange reluctance incur a tax penalty, despite the relatively meager financial cost they’d face as “a first-time payor.”)
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    Kyle Downing <![CDATA[International Notes: Rule Changes, Japan, Latin America, Mexico,]]> 2018-08-18T14:27:12Z 2018-08-18T14:27:12Z MLB has implemented some changes to their international signing rules and regulations, and Ben Badler of Baseball America is right on top of it with the details. Among the most notable rule changes are 1) that amateur players will now be allowed to enter team facilities earlier, specifically 18 months before they become eligible to sign, and 2) teams can pay for travel expenses earlier in the process for all international players. Badler notes that the latter change will affect recruiting in Venezuela. Also outlined in the piece are rule changes that impact international tryout players’ allotted time at team facilities, others that impact showcases, and some that relate to travel expenses. Avid followers of MLB’s international signing process ought to give the piece a full read in order to stay up to speed.

    And now some other notes from around the globe…

    • While there won’t be a player of Shohei Ohtani’s caliber coming to MLB from Japan this coming offseason, one impact player could still make his way over.’s Jon Morosi writes that left-hander Yusei Kikuchi, who currently pitches for the Saitama Seibu Lions, could potentially make himself available through the posting system. There’s a widespread believe that Kikuchi could elevate himself to No. 2 starter status in the major leagues, thanks in part to a 92-94 MPH fastball that can touch 96 at times. Though he’s spent some time on the disabled list this season and seen his command diminish slightly from an otherworldly 2017 campaign, the southpaw would no doubt attract plenty of suitors on the free agent market.
    • Back to Badler, who has some details on a budding “Trainer Partnership Program” with Latin America. The movement comes as part of a broader effort to cut down on steroid use from amateur players. Recently, the league held meetings with several of the most prominent trainers in Venezuela and the Dominican Republic. At least 50 have agreed to join the new program, which will serve as a way for MLB to “certify” trainers who have agreed to comply with league standards.
    • Yet a third piece from Badler details how the Cubs essentially lost their top 2017 international prospect. At the time Chicago signed right-hander Florencio Serrano for $1.2MM out of Mexico, Baseball America had him ranked as the 29th-best prospect in that international draft class. But MLB didn’t approve the contract, and actually ended up suspending the entire signing system for Mexican players owing in part to technicalities within the international signing restrictions. The piece gives some interesting insight into just how detailed the whole process is, and how even painstaking attention to technicalities can’t always subvert the spirit of the rules.
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Cubs Place Mike Montgomery On 10-Day DL]]> 2018-08-17T21:00:23Z 2018-08-17T20:13:30Z The Cubs have placed lefty Mike Montgomery on the 10-day disabled list, Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune was among those to report on Twitter. He’s said to be experiencing shoulder inflammation.

    It is not yet clear just how significant an injury Montgomery is dealing with. Clearly, though, it’s a concern with only six weeks of the regular season remaining. He’ll be replaced in the rotation for the time being by Tyler Chatwood, with southpaw Randy Rosario being recalled to take the open roster spot.

    Montgomery, 29, has been a godsend since moving into the rotation. In 13 starts, he has provided the club with 73 innings of 3.08 ERA pitching. While his 45:21 K/BB ratio in that stretch isn’t all that compelling, Montgomery does have a strong history of inducing groundballs. He has also consistently outperformed ERA estimators since reaching the majors, holding opponents to a .276 batting average over his career, though it’s certainly debatable whether that’s something we should expect to continue.

    Regardless of one’s beliefs regarding Montgomery’s true talent levels, he has unquestionably represented a steadying force for a rotation that has dealt with a fair bit of uncertainty. With Yu Darvish slated to begin a rehab stint this weekend, there is at least the promise that he’ll be able to return before too long. But he’s still likely going to require a few outings and had struggled before hitting the DL. Meanwhile, turning to Chatwood really isn’t all that appealing an option. His control woes have continued since he was dropped from the starting five. In 5 2/3 innings over three relief appearances, Chatwood has allowed four earned runs and handed out five walks to go with three strikeouts.

    Of course, the Cubs were not fully committed to utilizing Montgomery as a starter. They had just skipped his most recent outing, though that was said to have been done to keep him fresh. And while Montgomery has previously expressed consternation at being pushed to the pen, he seemed at peace with the possibility of spending time again as a reliever. Even if the plans may have called for an eventual return to the relief corps, though, that doesn’t mean that now was the preferred time. And it certainly does not draw the sting of any time lost due to injury. Montgomery, after all, would be quite useful to have in the bullpen while still constituting a key rotation depth piece. The Cubs will certainly hope he’s able to return to action in relatively short order.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Cubs Expect Bryant Back By September]]> 2018-08-17T15:49:17Z 2018-08-17T15:49:17Z
  • Though Kris Bryant’s absence has undoubtedly been longer than the Cubs had hoped, the slugger may not be on the shelf much longer. Manager Joe Maddon tells Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times that he expects Bryant back by September, which would give the former NL MVP a month to round into form in advance of a hopeful postseason run. Bryant feels he’ll need only three or four games on a minor league rehab assignment before he’s ready to return. It’s been a “down” season for Bryant, though only by his own lofty standards. Through 358 trips to the plate, he’s hitting .276/.380/.474 with 11 homers, 21 doubles and three triples.
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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Cubs Acquire Terrance Gore]]> 2018-08-15T17:55:23Z 2018-08-15T15:35:52Z The Cubs have acquired outfielder Terrance Gore from the Royals, per an announcement from the Kansas City organization. Cash considerations will head back in return.

    Gore, 27, will presumably reprise his role as a late-season/postseason threat on the bases. No doubt he’ll begin his tenure with the Chicago organization in the upper minors, where he has typically resided until rosters expand in September.

    Since first cracking the majors in 2014, the light-hitting Gore has taken only 14 plate appearances at the game’s highest level. But he has appeared in 49 total games and racked up 21 steals.

    Of course, utilizing a specialist in that manner only requires the commitment of a 40-man spot once rosters have expanded. For the time being, the Cubs won’t even need to tie up a slot on Gore, who had re-joined the Royals on a minors deal over the winter after being cut loose last fall.

    Whether or not Gore could also feature on the Cubs’ presumptive postseason roster remains to be seen. The Royals carried him throughout the 2014 and 2015 postseasons, up to but not including the club’s successful return to the World Series in the second of those two memorable campaigns. Despite being in uniform for quite a few contests, Gore has only appeared in eight total playoff games, stealing four bags but never striding to the plate.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Rangers Acquire Alexander Ovalles From Cubs As PTBNL In Cole Hamels Trade]]> 2018-08-14T22:39:40Z 2018-08-14T22:35:53Z The Rangers announced Tuesday that they’ve acquired minor league outfielder Alexander Ovalles as the player to be named later in last month’s Cole Hamels trade. Ovalles joins right-hander Eddie Butler and minor league right-hander Rollie Lacy in the package sent from Chicago to Texas in that swap.

    Just 17 years of age, Ovalles made his professional debut with the Cubs’ affiliate in the Dominican Summer League this year. Through 21 games and 94 plate appearances, he’s posted a .316/.430/.368 batting line with four doubles and eight steals in 13 tries.

    Ovalles, who signed with the Cubs out of the Dominican Republic during the 2017-18 international signing period, isn’t ranked among the club’s top tier of prospects, though that’s not a huge surprise given his age and modest price tag. While the amount of Ovalles’ bonus wasn’t reported last year, the Cubs were under the maximum penalty bracket for exceeding previous international spending limitations, meaning they were capped at $300K per signing when they added Ovalles.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Minor MLB Transactions: 8/14/18]]> 2018-08-14T04:10:06Z 2018-08-14T04:10:06Z There are quite a few minor moves to cover, with Baseball America’s Matt Eddy releasing several weeks’ worth of transactions. We’ll use this post to cover the most notable ones that haven’t yet featured on MLBTR:

    • The Angels released outfielder Ben Revere, who could perhaps be an interesting player to target for contending clubs that like the idea of adding a good defender and baserunning threat to their system. Revere, 30, hasn’t seen the majors this year after seven-straight seasons of action at the game’s highest level. He’s slashing .277/.319/.406 with a pair of steals through 166 plate appearances at Triple-A.
    • Ending a relationship that never seemed to work out, the Dodgers have cut loose infielder Erisbel Arruebarrena. Now 28, the former international signee hadn’t played much in the club’s system since he was suspended in May of 2016.
    • The Phillies have released a pair of former big leaguers: infielder Danny Espinosa and outfielder Adron Chambers. Espinosa’s always fickle bat has not yet recovered from a 2017 nosedive. In 240 Triple-A plate appearances with three organizations this year, he owns a .295/.239/.312 slash. Chambers, meanwhile, hasn’t seen the majors since 2013 and last played affiliated ball in 2015, but came back from an indy stint to produce a .278/.328/.437 batting line in 138 Triple-A plate appearances.
    • A host of players received their walking papers from the Diamondbacks. Righty Brian Ellington is among them; the flamethrower struggled badly with his command in limited minor-league action. Southpaw Anthony Vasquez was also released after after 85 2/3 innings of 5.04 ERA ball in the upper minors. The club also dropped several outfielders. Cesar Puello (.317/.426/.454) and Dan Robertson (.263/.361/.407) are both former big leaguers who were getting on base at Reno, but will now seek other opportunities.
    • The Giants released two notable players in righty Chris Heston and backstop Ryan Hanigan. Heston, 30, only made nine appearances in the minors this year owing to injury. Hanigan, who’s closing in on his 38th birthday, is still looking to crack the majors for the 12th-straight season but did not help his cause with a .175/.254/.193 batting line in 63 plate appearances at Triple-A.
    • The Cubs parted with Ryan Webb after he made just 11 appearances at the Rookie ball level. It is not immediately clear why the 32-year-old did not get a shot in the upper minors, or what’s next for him In eight seasons of MLB pitching, from 2009 through 2016, Webb owns a 3.43 ERA through 393 1/3 innings.
    • A variety of other former major-league relief pitchers were also on the move. Among them: The White Sox signed once-promising Braves reliever Mauricio Cabrera. Righty Dallas Beeler was released by the Royals. A trio of former MLB lefties are back in free agency after being cut free: Elvis Araujo (Orioles); Paco Rodriguez (Twins); and Dario Alvarez (Mariners).
    • Meanwhile, the Mariners parted with outfielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis and the Nationals did the same with Alejandro De Aza. One-time Rule 5 pick Taylor Featherston landed with the Reds.
    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Cubs Outright Anthony Bass]]> 2018-08-13T00:51:36Z 2018-08-13T00:50:54Z
  • Cubs reliever Anthony Bass has cleared waivers and been outrighted to Triple-A Iowa, Patrick Mooney of The Athletic was among those to tweet. The move came after the Cubs activated Bass from the 10-day disabled list, where he had been since July 21 on account of a back muscle issue. Because he has been outrighted in the past, Bass has a right to reject the assignment in favor of free agency, but there’s no indication that he’ll head back to the open market. The 30-year-old has been a good find this year for the Cubs, who signed him to a minor league deal last December, having pitched to a 2.93 ERA with 8.22 K/9, 1.76 BB/9 and a 53.3 percent groundball rate in 15 1/3 innings.
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    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Inside The Nationals' Trade Of Brandon Kintzler]]> 2018-08-12T16:57:15Z 2018-08-12T16:57:15Z It seems as if some behind-the-scenes drama contributed to the Nationals’ decision to trade Brandon Kintzler to the Cubs, Fancred Sports’ Jon Heyman writes.  GM Mike Rizzo reportedly believed Kintzler was an unnamed source in two recent stories (by Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports and Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post) that detailed internal criticisms of the Nats’ clubhouse culture and Dave Martinez’s handling of pitchers.  Kintzler has vigorously denied these claims, saying as much to Rizzo personally.  Once word spread about the situation, Passan even contacted Cubs president of baseball ops Theo Epstein to state that he’d never been in contact with Kintzler and that the reliever wasn’t the one who provided the much-discussed quote about the Nationals’ clubhouse being “a mess.”  Furthermore, as Heyman notes, it seems odd that Rizzo would single Kintzler out for any role in Janes’ piece when several other Nats relievers were quoted by name.  Ken Rosenthal provided an alternate view on the Kintzler trade in a video for FOX Sports, saying that Washington’s primary reason for moving Kintzler may have been to escape his $5MM player option for the 2019 season.

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Drew Smyly Hoping To Return In September]]> 2018-08-12T02:32:40Z 2018-08-12T01:07:10Z
  • Cubs left-hander Drew Smyly is holding out for a September return, Jesse Rogers of reports. Smyly, a former Tiger, Ray and Mariner whom the Cubs signed to a two-year, $10MM guarantee in December, continues to work back from the Tommy John procedure he underwent last June. The 29-year-old hasn’t taken a major league mound since Sept. 26, 2016.
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    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Kris Bryant Expects To Return In 2018]]> 2018-08-11T20:05:27Z 2018-08-11T19:58:09Z
  • Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant, out since July 26 with left shoulder inflammation, told Patrick Mooney of The Athletic and other reporters Saturday that he “absolutely” expects to return in 2018. In order to preserve his body, Bryant noted that he “plans to alter his gameday routine,” writes Mooney, who adds that the 26-year-old would like to play until he’s 40.
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    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Cubs Sign Jorge De La Rosa]]> 2018-08-10T15:30:46Z 2018-08-10T15:00:14Z The Cubs have signed left-hander Jorge De La Rosa to a Major League contract, the team announced.  (’s Carrie Muskat was among to report the news).  The veteran southpaw has already been activated and is on the Cubs’ roster for today’s afternoon game with the Nationals.  To create roster space, Yu Darvish was transferred to the 60-day DL and left-hander Randy Rosario was sent down to Triple-A.

    De La Rosa was released by the Diamondbacks earlier this week after he posted a 4.63 ERA, 6.9 K/9, and 1.42 K/BB rate over 35 innings out of the Arizona bullpen.  It was something of a feast-or-famine situation for De La Rosa this season, as he posted both a 51.9% grounder rate but also an ungainly 20% home run rate.  Right-handed batters hit De La Rosa hard, to the tune of a .927 OPS, though he was quite effective against left-handed batters, limiting them to just a .220/.309/.407 slash line.

    Justin Wilson is the only other left-hander in Chicago’s bullpen, and while Wilson has generally pitched well this season, he has continued to have control issues (6.2 BB/9).  The 24-year-old Rosario has a 3.00 ERA over 33 frames this season, though since he had almost as many walks (19) as strikeouts (21), it makes sense that the Cubs wanted a more experienced left-handed presence, despite De La Rosa’s own struggles.

    The club was known to be looking at bullpen help in the leadup to the trade deadline but came away with two right-handers (Brandon Kintzler and Jesse Chavez) rather than additional left-handed depth.  Mike Montgomery has pitched well as a starter, but the Cubs could still potentially make him their primary left-handed relief option once Darvish returns from the DL, since Montgomery probably wouldn’t be in line to be used as a starter anyways in a potential playoff series.

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Yu Darvish Continues Making Progress]]> 2018-08-09T03:24:22Z 2018-08-09T03:17:10Z Cubs right-hander Yu Darvish could be on track to rejoin the team’s rotation in early September, Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times writes. Darvish’s two-inning, 33-pitch sim game on Wednesday went well, manager Joe Maddon suggested. The next step for the 31-year-old Darvish is to embark on a rehab assignment, which may happen by the end of next week, per Wittenmyer. Triceps and elbow problems have kept the big-money free-agent signing off a major league mound since May 20.

    Kyle Downing <![CDATA[Injury Notes: Ohtani, Samardzija, Urias, Bryant]]> 2018-08-08T02:40:27Z 2018-08-08T02:40:27Z Though a few notable players went on the disabled list earlier today, some even more notable names are making progress in their returns. Here are the details…

    • Shohei Ohtani is nearing a return to the mound, and his rehab seems to be going even better than expected (per Trent Rush of Angels Radio Network). The Angels double-threat reportedly threw from 120 feet “with aggression”. Ohtani, the club’s headliner offseason acquisition, is already back to doing damage at the plate, but the club would surely be glad to see him return with rest and rehab after suffering a grade 2 UCL sprain earlier this season; the alternative would of course be the feared Tommy John surgery which would keep him off the field until the beginning of the 2020 season.
    • It would appear that Giants hurler Jeff Samardzija is even closer to a return, as the 33-year-old threw 30 pitches off a bullpen mound on Monday (h/t Chris Haft of “Shark” has been trudging through an injury-plagued 2018 season that’s seen him make just ten starts and average fewer than five innings across them. His hideous 6.25 ERA would be a career-worst by far, and his 5.44 FIP doesn’t paint a much kinder picture. The 57-58 Giants will surely be hoping he can provide a boost to their rotation after they opted not to sell off any assets at the trade deadline in overly-optimistic hopes of contending for an NL Wild Card.
    • The outlook isn’t as optimistic for former wunderkind Julio Urias of the Dodgers. The 21-year-old lefty blew away the competition at every level of the minors en route to a 1.8 fWAR showing in his first taste of major-league action back in 2016, when he pitched to a 3.39 ERA in 77 innings. But he followed that up with a rough 2017 showing that saw him post a bloated 5.40 ERA and ultimately cede the season to an anterior capsule injury that required surgery. Now, according to Eric Longenhagen of Fangraphs, Urias’ velocity is down to 88-91 MPH after sitting closer to the mid-90’s for the majority of his pro career. Longenhagen also reports that the youngster’s secondary pitches are less “crisp” than they were pre-injury, leading to questions about whether Urias will ever be the same pitcher again.
    • “I’m not going to get ahead of myself,” says Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant in reference to his latest attempt to return from a shoulder injury. In a video interview with Mark Gonzalez of the Chicago Tribute, the former NL MVP details his patient approach to injury rehab (though it’s disappointing that the interview is largely inaudible). Bryant’s 2018 season has been marred by shoulder troubles, though he’s still managed an impressive .276/.380/.474 performance across 358 plate appearances while healthy. On the other hand, that’s not quite to the level of his career numbers (.286/.387/.519).