We said a 5-1 record or better over their six-game road trip would turn the Cubs into buyers, and that’s exactly what has happened. Even if they’re not able to complete a four-game sweep of the Cardinals in St. Louis, Jed Hoyer’s team has pushed him into buy mode. Exactly how aggressive he’ll get remains to be seen, but the focus appears to be on bullpen additions.
Jesse Rogers mentioned southpaws Brad Hand and Brent Suter of the Rockies as potential fits due to both their limited contractual obligations and low perceived trade cost. Hand has long been mentioned in connection to the Cubs, though his performance against right-handed batters leaves a lot to be desired.
Suter’s funky delivery is familiar to Cubs fans from his time with Milwaukee and he’s been pitching really well this season, putting up big reverse splits after what has been a pretty neutral career performance. Neither would be big needle-movers, but the Cubs could use a veteran lefty.
One other name mentioned by Rogers is Aaron Bummer of the White Sox, another lefty whose 6.69 ERA might help to offset the cost of acquiring his services for another year beyond this one. The idea here would be that pitching for a team with good defense would bring that number more in line with his 3.01 xERA and 2.40 FIP. Bummer is striking out batters at a 28% clip and he’s got a career 66% grounder rate, which could be huge for the Cubs.
Tom Loxas tweeted Sunday that the Cubs have checked in with the Padres on several pitchers, including Blake Snell and Paul Sewald. Both are having tremendous seasons and would require a bigger haul than the aforementioned arms, plus the Padres haven’t yet made a decision on which direction to take. Snell would be more of a replacement for Drew Smyly, who has been shifted to a bulk starter behind an opener due to his recent struggles.
There have been reports that San Diego is willing to move closer Josh Hader, who would also be a Cubs target if he’s truly available.
Sorry, Sewald. https://t.co/n0legsqi4r
— TomLoxas (@TomLoxas) July 30, 2023
That’s not a sign that the Cubs lack faith in Adbert Alzolay, it’s just a matter of adding a proven closer to hold slim leads over the next two months. If they don’t add a big bat, which reports indicate they’re unlikely to do, the bullpen is going to be even more important. After a rough season with the Brewers and Padres in 2022, Hader is pitching to a 0.92 ERA and has allowed just one homer in 41 appearances.
Any of these trades would be a sign that the Cubs believe they can make the playoffs, but acquiring Hader would put it in flashing neon. Expect the volume on these rumors to keep cranking up with the deadline coming on Tuesday.