Report: Cubs active in trade talks with two ace pitchers
Brian Fluharty - USA Today Sports

Report: Cubs active in trade talks with two ace pitchers

by - Senior Writer -

You knew coming into the offseason that the Cubs would be significant players in the starting pitcher market, as that was one of the areas Jed Hoyer knew needed to be addressed. While many thought the Cubs would go after guys like Blake Snell, Aaron Nola, and Yoshinbu Yamamoto, Nola has officially re-signed with the Phillies, while Yamamoto and Snell are going to be coveted by several teams.

That doesn't mean the Cubs won't be in on those conversations, but to be fair, there are other ways to acquire starting pitching help, with one of those ways coming from the trade market. The Cubs know that, and they will not hesitate to make a deal should it make sense for both the short and long-term outlook of this team.

Well, according to reports including Jon Morosi on Tuesday, not only are the Cubs actively talking to the Rays about one of their starters, but now it appears they are talking with the Guardians also in hopes of acquiring one, if not two aces. The Reds are also mentioned in these discussions, but as we have seen in the past, where there is smoke, there is fire, and it is only a matter of time before something gets done.

Regarding the Rays, Tyler Glasnow is the name being mentioned, and for the Cubs, this shouldn't come as a surprise, as he has been linked to them for years. The 30-year-old right-hander is a polarizing figure, but one who hasn't topped 130 innings in his MLB career mainly due to what seems like one significant injury every season.

When healthy, no one is going to deny his talent level, as Glasnow not only has CY Young stuff but would be a Cy Young favorite if he could make 30 starts. Adding him to your staff instantly makes it better, but with a 25 million dollar price tag for one season and given his injury history, there is a ton of risk involved with making that move.

Knowing how the Rays do business, there is no way they pay him beyond this season, so why not trade for him now to see what you can get? I get he isn't a model of reliability, but he has the swing-and-miss stuff that this rotation has been missing since the CY Young year of Jake Arrieta, even if he will be on the wrong side of 30 next season.

Adding Glasnow gives the Cubs a power arm atop their rotation and someone they would like to get 30 starts out of. However, if he can give you 25 stars, you would feel happy, as that would mean a career-high in innings for him. Glasnow is primarily a two-pitch guy, but does have four pitches he can lean on. His fastball sits at 97 MPH as he pairs that with a lethal 82 MPH curve. Throw in an 88 MPH change and an additional breaking ball, and there is a reason why he strikes out better than 34% of the hitters he faces, which is an ideal rate.

Given the price tag and having only one year left of control, it would make acquiring him easier and cheaper than some would expect, but the Rays would like some major league-ready pitching in return. That is where Hayden Wesneski, Jordan Wicks, or Caleb Kilian could come into play, along with Matt Mervis and another prospect. Either way the Cubs have the assets to do something if they feel he is worth the risk.

While Glasnow is a name that has been linked to the Cubs for a while, should they feel he is too risky, another name has popped up as Shane Bieber is now on the Cubs' radar. The ace of the Guardians staff for the last few seasons, Bieber had a down season last year but is familiar with Cubs GM Carter Hawkins, so there is that to look at also.

Like Glasnow, Bieber only has one year of control left, and considering the Guardians operate like the Rays, there is no reason to expect he will return after this season. However, with only a 12 million dollar price tag this season and still only 28 years old, Bieber brings more value to the table as the Cubs could extend him well beyond this season.

Bieber is not only two years younger than Glasnow but is also as durable as they come, apart from a few starts last season where he needed to miss time. He is a two-time All-Star, one-time Gold Glover, and the 2020 AL Cy Young Award winner (he also finished top-10 in Cy Young voting in both 2019 and 2022) and was once the most feared pitcher in the AL Central.

However, his recent seasons have been good but not great, and his average exit velocity has ticked up, but he doesn’t walk guys, gets groundballs, and probably has a lot more left in the take, given his age and track record. Unlike Glasnow, who can touch triple digits, Bieber tends to sit around 93-94 with his heater, and he’s not the hard thrower the Cubs were looking for. Throw in that he made only two starts after July 9 last season, and there could be some concerns about his health.

Regardless, you would love to have Bieber on your staff for not only this season, but for many years to come, and with him about to hit free agency, the price tag could be similar to what Glasnow would take on.

Another name to watch for in the coming weeks is Toronto starter Alex Manoah, who could be looking for a fresh start after a dismal 2023. Manoah pitched like an ACE in 2022 before falling into the worst slump anyone has seen in quite some time. At 26 years old, if he can come close to his 2022 form, the Cubs would be foolish not to kick the tires on him.

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