The Cubs signed closer Craig Kimbrel last week, but that doesn’t mean Theo Epstein and the front office are done trying to add to the bullpen. Kyle Ryan and Mike Montgomery are currently the lefties that Joe Maddon has out of the pen, while Xavier Cedeño is rehabbing in Iowa. So yeah, slim pickings from the left side for the Cubs.
Epstein talked about the Cubs bullpen becoming potentially dominant with the addition of Kimbrel, but if he truly envisions that then there will be another trade for an elite left-handed reliever.
The Cubs are certainly looking.
670 The Score’s Bruce Levine specifically brings up the two left-handed relievers in the Giants bullpen, Tony Watson and Will Smith. It’s not the first time the Giants and Cubs have been connected in possible trade talks and if the Cubs want a lefty, the Giants probably have the best two available this year.
Via 670 The Score.
Mired in last place in the National League West and 18 games back, the Giants have a pair of lefty relievers in Will Smith and Tony Watson who are high on the wish list of the Cubs and other contenders in prospective trades. The Giants have had at least one scout at every Cubs home series since mid-April and on at least two occasions had two big league scouts in Chicago. It’s clear that the Cubs have been a target team of the Giants, who have also assessed the farm system.
Smith has been outstanding in 2019, saving 14 games, while recording a 2.19 ERA and 0.73 WHIP. He’s struck out 35 batters and only has five walks in 24.2 innings.
And hey, Watson isn’t bad either! He’s made 27 appearances and has a 2.55 ERA and 1.18 WHIP, striking out 21 and walking only three. Wouldn’t it be great to have a reliever who doesn’t walk batters?!?!
Smith, 29, will be a free agent after this. Meanwhile, Watson, 34, has a $2.5 million player option for 2020.
I forget which radio host brought this up last week, but it’s a great point. Now that the Cubs signed Kimbrel, Epstein really does have the upper hand in negotiations. The Cubs already have their star closer, so it’s not like the Giants, or any other team, could tell them that they have no choice but to overpay for a guy like Smith. Sure, the Cubs need a solid left-handed reliever, but as far as needing a closer, that job is already filled. So, unlike 2016, Theo won’t be as desperate in this trade market.
As far as who the Cubs could trade for either of those Giants relievers? Don’t think it would be anyone from the big league team and Cubs pitching prospect Adbert Alzolay should be off the table and probably the team’s other top prospects too, Nico Hoerner, Miguel Amaya and Brailyn Marquez.
After those four, though, go ahead! And maybe Ian Happ is on the table?
We’ll see in the next seven weeks just how aggressive the Cubs get to truly make their bullpen dominant.