Last week 670 The Score’s Bruce Levine floated the idea that the Chicago Cubs had New York Mets starting pitcher Jacob deGrom on their radar, as the ace continues to be wasted away in the big apple under the team’s poor management. I shared what I believe to be a realistic trade package the Cubs could offer, but now we have the opinion of some MLB scouts and executives.
ESPN’s Jesse Rogers wrote about the possibility of a blockbuster trade between the Cubs and Mets. It’s been stated before, but obviously the Cubs don’t have the big-name prospects to be the centerpiece of a deal for an ace like deGrom. However, the Cubs have plenty of depth on their MLB roster that allows them to package one or two major leaguers for an elite starting pitcher, while not being hurt too badly in the lineup afterward.
A survey of major league baseball scouts, front-office executives (not associated with the Mets or Cubs) and media members zeroed in on a trio of Cubs who could be the centerpiece of a larger deal with the Mets: shortstop Addison Russell, infielder/outfielder Ian Happ and pitcher Mike Montgomery.
“Two of those three could start to get it done,” one National League scout said.
What if the asking price were all three? Several surveyed said that would be too much for the Cubs to give up, so they would have to sweeten the pot as best they could from a minor league system that isn’t as stocked as some other potential suitors’.
This isn’t far off from Levine’s suggestion of Addison Russell and Ian Happ being the two main possible players in a trade. Obviously the new name here is left-handed pitcher Mike Montgomery.
But the really interesting part is that according to that one National League scout, two of three could get it done, plus adding some top Cubs prospects.
And apparently Happ is getting more attention across baseball.
“Happ is the guy scouts like,” one executive said. “He’s a switch-hitter with athleticism. No one knows what he’ll be, but he can start now on a lot of teams.”
Despite an awful month of April for Happ, he’s had an outstanding overall season thus far. The 23-year-old has a .379 OBP and .832 OPS in 82 games. He’s only in his second MLB season, can play multiple positions and has hit for power (35 home runs in 598 at-bats) at a much higher rate than first projected.
Meanwhile, Russell remains an elite defensive shortstop and although his power numbers aren’t on pace to 2016, he’s improved other areas of his game. Russell is hitting a career high .272, while walking at a 9.7% rate and has his OBP up to .345, which is 24 points higher than his previous high in 2016.
Meanwhile, Montgomery has been filling in for Yu Darvish for two months and has done an admirable job. The lefty has made nine starts, pitching 50.2 innings, recording a 3.20 ERA and a 1.18 WHIP. Overall, Montgomery has a 3.99 ERA in 46 career starts and a 2.80 ERA in 90 relief appearances with the Cubs and Seattle Mariners combined.
Montgomery, 29, is under team control through 2021.
But would Montgomery and Russell/Happ plus some prospects really be enough for Jacob deGrom, who has a career 2.78 ERA and a strikeout-to-walk ratio a little higher than 4:1?
That is something we won’t know for now as it’s simply a hypothetical. But if I had to choose one between Russell and Happ to pair with Montgomery in this scenario, it’d be Happ. The defense up the middle with Javier Baez and Russell is just too good to see go away if Happ can be used in a trade instead.
If it’s Happ and Russell, I’d pass.
Regardless if a big deal happens, Cubs’ GM Jed Hoyer has made it clear that the team is pursuing starting pitching before the trade deadline.
So, we have about two weeks of more trade rumors to speculate over. Fasten your seatbelts.