Epstein Talks Bryant’s Shoulder, Darvish’s Arm, Trade Deadline Strategy
Theo Epstein spoke to the media prior to Friday’s game with the Reds, providing updates on injured stars and discussing the team’s trade-deadline outlook. Nothing revelatory, mind you, but it’s never a bad idea to listen to what the Cubs baseball boss has to say.
Pitching coach Jim Hickey said Thursday that Yu Darvish would resume a throwing program soon and that he’d go back through the rehab cycle again with an eye toward a late-July return. Epstein did not go into any specifics as far as a timeline for the righty, but did confirm Hickey’s report that Darvish is feeling good.
Theo on Darvish – He is feeling much better. Epstein said no time table yet .
— Bruce Levine (@MLBBruceLevine) July 6, 2018
The same was true of Kris Bryant following a BP session Friday, which spells the possibility of a much more immediate return. Bryant was eligible to come of the DL this past Wednesday, but Joe Maddon had said they’d hold the MVP back until at least Friday in order to give him that much more rest. With his shoulder still feeling a little sore, however, that activation was pushed back.
Epstein said the Cubs have not ruled out the possibility of a rehab assignment, something that becomes a little more likely with each day Bryant sits out. He hasn’t played since June 22 and might benefit from a little live tune-up action prior to coming back. My only request if the Cubs go that route is to hold him back until July 14 and then send him to South Bend so I can be there.
And speaking of the minors and all the prospects the Cubs have working their way through the system, there could be some movement in the next couple weeks as the trade deadline approaches. Unlike past years, though, Epstein told reporters he doesn’t anticipate jumping out ahead of the market.
“I don’t think this is the year we’re going to be out front beating the market but I do think industry wide there will be a lot of activity well before the deadline,” Epstein said.
#Cubs Theo: "I don't think this is the year we're going to be out front beating the market but I do think industry wide there will be a lot of activity well before the deadline."
— Carrie Muskat (@CarrieMuskat) July 6, 2018
A lot of that comes from not knowing exactly what they’ve got yet. Carl Edwards Jr. was just activated from the DL Monday after more than a month off, Brian Duensing is just getting back to throwing, and we already heard about Darvish. Casey Coleman coming back to the organization and pitching well is certainly intriguing, but it’s not as if the Cubs are really going to count on him for much more than depth.
And we can’t forget about Drew Smyly, who’s being stretched out in Mesa as he continues his rehab from Tommy John surgery. Epstein wouldn’t commit to a specific role for the lefty, but he figures to act as something of a Mike Montgomery-type swingman if and when he’s able to return.
You can never have enough pitching, so the Cubs figure to be pretty active when it comes to acquiring depth for the staff. Probably nothing splashy, but having a few more live arms could really help down the stretch.
As for the offense, Epstein was a bit more clear. With the Cubs scoring in a more consistent, sustainable manner and getting Bryant back, there’s really no desire to go out and spend on a bat.
“On position player front, there is not a lot we would want to go get, honestly,” Epstein explained. “Not a lot of roster spots to fit guys in and we have guys we have to sit on a given day we want to get at-bats for. It’s not like we’re actively looking to add on the position player side.”
Theo: “On position player front, there is not a lot we would want to go get, honestly. Not a lot of roster spots to fit guys in and we have guys we have to sit on a given day we want to get at-bats for. It’s not like we’re actively looking to add on the position player side.”
— Jesse Rogers (@ESPNChiCubs) July 6, 2018
Epstein also took another dig at the Manny Machado rumors, which have included the Cubs less and less since the buzz peaked in mid-May.
With a little over three weeks left until the non-waiver deadline, there’ll be plenty more rumor and insinuation to sift through. The Cubs getting players healthy and seeing how well they can perform once everyone is back will help us to establish a baseline when it comes to what they might really be looking for.