It seems that the Chicago Cubs and Tampa Bay Rays have been linked in trade rumors for three years and that remains the same this season.
The Cubs are always on the lookout for more pitching depth and this year is no different. Yu Darvish is still sidelined with his earliest return being in late July or early August, while Tyler Chatwood has been a major disappointment. With that in mind, the Cubs have been taking a close look at Rays’ starter Nathan Eovaldi.
According to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times, the Cubs had scouts in attendance for Eovaldi’s start against the New York Mets on Sunday. It’s the second straight start that Cubs’ scouts have watched Eovaldi live in person and they certainly must have loved what they saw Sunday.
Eovaldi had a perfect game through six innings against the Mets and finished his start with only one hit allowed, no walks and nine strikeouts in seven innings. He only threw 79 pitches! Talk about efficient.
The thing is, the Cubs will obviously have competition for the right-hander, including the Milwaukee Brewers, who were also scouting him Sunday among other teams.
Via Marc Topkin.
The way Eovaldi is throwing, with an 0.95 ERA over his last three starts (two earned runs in 19 innings) and 3-3, 3.35 overall, the Rays certainly will have the opportunity to trade him. Plus, he’s cheap, with just the balance of a $2 million salary, and a simple rental, as he’s a free agent after the season.
There really is no reason for them to not trade him, even if he somehow wasn’t out of their price range since he could be re-signed over the winter. At least a half dozen contending teams that could use help were at Citi Field watching him Sunday, including the Braves, Brewers, Cubs, Diamondbacks, Giants and Yankees.
Eovaldi, 28, is coming back from Tommy John surgery that he had in 2016. He made his season debut for the Rays in late May and he’s been pretty damn good, especially in this recent three-start stretch.
The obvious red flags for the Cubs and any team that tries to trade for Eovaldi is his injury history, as he also had Tommy John surgery in high school and started 2018 on the DL with loose bodies in his elbow. Also, despite the low walk total, six in 48.1 innings, Eovaldi has allowed nine home runs in his eight starts.
But still, at this point the Cubs have to pursue every avenue to look for a backup plan for Chatwood. There’s just no way he gives the Cubs the best chance to win when he’s starting and the team can’t afford to kill the bullpen every time Chatwood goes out on the mound, as he’s averaging less than five innings per start.
In 2018, Eovaldi has a 3.35 ERA and 0.81 WHIP, with 44 strikeouts and six walks.