Despite the Cubs glaring need for a reliever like Zach Britton, MLB Insider Jon Heyman of Fancred is reporting that the New York Yankees and Baltimore Orioles have agreed to a trade sending Britton to the Bronx.
sources: Britton to the yankees deal has been agreed to— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) July 25, 2018
The deal will reportedly include pitcher Dillon Tate, the Yankees No. 9 overall prospect according to MLB Pipeline.
Now that Britton, arguably the best remaining reliever left on the market, is heading to New York the question becomes where do the Cubs go from here? Names like the Blue Jays J.A. Happ and the Rays Nathan Eovaldi have been linked to the Cubs throughout the month of July, but both are starters - which the Cubs do need - but the bullpen is still in need of an extra arm.
Padres lefty-reliever Kirby Yates could make sense for the Cubs, making slightly over $1 mil via arbitration this season and is under team control through 2020. The 31-year-old Yates boasts a 1.40 ERA while striking out 50 batters and only walking 11 this season. Yates also happens to be throwing harder than he ever has through his four seasons in the MLB, topping out at 94.4 MPH, per Fangraphs.
The Cubs could try and swing another cross-town trade for reliever Joakim Soria, who is having a solid season as the White Sox' closer with 15 saves and a 2.63 ERA. Another intriguing name from the South-Side would be starter James Shields, who despite his 4.26 ERA, is averaging a little over six innings per game for the White Sox and would be a quality innings-eater for the Cubs.
The issue with Shields is that he is owed $16 million next season and with the Cubs already pushing up against the luxury tax, they would need the White Sox to eat a large chunk of salary - something that would cost the Cubs more in terms of prospects.
The sad reality of the Cubs situation is despite the club needing impact arms, to acquire those arms teams want elite prospects or young, established players back in return. The Cubs farm system does not have anyone like Gleyber Torres or Eloy Jimenez to sweeten trades and the team is reluctant to move players like Ian Happ, Addison Russell, or Victor Caratini as it would drastically hurt their roster depth.
With a week separating the Cubs from the July 31st non-wavier trade deadline, Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer, and the front office will have to get creative with their search for pitching depth. But the big trade target in Zach Britton is off the board, leaving the Cubs with few impact trade options.