Pre-trade deadline talks are currently in full swing around Major League Baseball. The 59-42 Chicago Cubs, currently holding first place in the NL Central by 2.5 games, are buyers looking to solidify their division lead, while the 46-55 Toronto Blue Jays are well out of the AL playoff picture and expected to be sellers. The Cubs are reportedly shopping for relievers to shore up their bullpen and may also be looking for a starting pitcher, since, based on recent comments from GM Theo Epstein, they are not relying on SP Yu Darvish to be his old self when he is ready to come off the DL later this season.
The Cubs were rumored to be in talks with the Baltimore Orioles for RP Zach Britton but were beaten out by the New York Yankees, who currently have more minor-league prospects to offer than the Cubs.
Meanwhile, the Blue Jays may be looking to deal SP J.A. Happ, their best starter this year who also represented Toronto in the 2018 All-Star Game, and OF Curtis Granderson, a veteran signed to a one-year deal. The Cubs currently have plenty of outfield depth but will likely have to trade one of their young major-league outfielders, Albert Almora, Jr. or Ian Happ, in order to make a deal since their farm system is somewhat depleted and they are less willing to lose further top prospects.
After having a discussion on Twitter about a possible Cubs trade for Jays pitchers Seunghwan Oh and J.A. Happ, I came up with the following hypothetical trade: SP Mike Montgomery and OF Ian Happ for RP Seunghwan Oh, SP J.A. Happ and OF Curtis Granderson.
J.A. Happ is the Jays’ leader in SP stats with a 4.18 ERA, a 1.18 WHIP, 10 wins and 130 strikeouts. His overall strikeout and walk numbers would be an improvement on the Cubs’ starting staff’s performance so far this year.
Montgomery was rumored to be a potential piece in a Cubs deal for Mets SP Jacob deGrom, so the Cubs recently traded for RP Jesse Chavez from the Texas Rangers to fill the swingman position in the Cubs bullpen formerly occupied by Montgomery before Darvish’s injury. Montgomery has made the most of his opportunity to start for the Cubs, posting a 3.02 ERA and 1.18 WHIP as a member of the rotation in 2018. Toronto has struggled with injuries to starting pitchers over the last two years, so I believe Montgomery would meet their needs by adding to their pitching depth.
Toronto has been looking to add younger players to its roster this year, but also signed OF Curtis Granderson for his versatility and leadership. Cubs OF Ian Happ is a young player with proven success at the big-league level and is also very versatile. He could help the Jays by filling in for injured OF Kevin Pillar. Granderson is a fan favorite MLB veteran with good power numbers and a history of helping playoff contenders. If Happ were part of a deal, Granderson would be able to fill his roster spot for the remainder of the season.
Finally, Seunghwan Oh has been the Jays’ best reliever (2.68 ERA, 1.000 WHIP) since RP Roberto Osuna was suspended for a violation of the MLB domestic violence policy following his arrest for assault. Although he has mainly been serving as a middle reliever for Toronto, he previously was a closer for the St. Louis Cardinals during the 2016 and 2017 seasons, going 39/47 in save opportunities. He is currently 2/5 in save opportunities for Toronto. Although he does not have top-shelf save numbers, it wouldn’t hurt for the Cubs to add another potential closer given RP Brandon Morrow’s on-again, off-again DL history this year. The Cubs are also in need of another high-leverage reliever to take some of the load off of Pedro Strop, Carl Edwards, Jr. and Steve Cishek. Oh has performed well this year and is familiar with the NL Central, so I believe he would make a good addition.
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Please feel free to comment with your own hypothetical trades!