Baltimore Orioles

Brewers swipe White Sox reliever and potential Cubs target Joakim Soria

Brewers swipe White Sox reliever and potential Cubs target Joakim Soria

According to MLB.com's Mark Feinsand, the Brewers have agreed to a deal with the White Sox for closer Joakim Soria, who had been speculated as a potential fit for the Cubs

Feinsand also reports the White Sox are receiving former first-round pick Kodi Medeiros and another arm in Wilber Perez, you can read Vinnie Duber's story for more details on the trade

The Brewer's already had one of the better bullpens in baseball, but like the Cubs, were searching for depth to avoid burning out their best arms before the postseason. The 34-year-old Soria will help bolster the backend of the Milwaukee bullpen while providing even more strikeouts - the Brewer's bullpen already ranked 4th overall in strikeouts.  

For the Cubs, this move hurts in a few ways as they failed to acquire another bullpen target but they also lost out to a divisional foe - one that sits only 2.5 games back in the Central Division behind the Cubs. Now the pressure is on the Cubs to improve their pitching, whether it be a bullpen arm or another starter, to try and prevent their relievers from wearing down during the second half of the season. 

With the majority of the market's larger trade chips already finding new homes, the Cubs will have to uncover talent without tipping teams off and creating a bidding war, similar to what happened with Zach Britton and the Yankees.

Some names to watch would be the Orioles right-handed reliever Brad Brach, who despite a rather poor 2018 season, hasn't had an ERA higher than 4.00 since 2011. Brach's glaring 4.85 ERA and 10.8% walk rate make him a concerning addition, but also means Baltimore's asking price may be at an all-time low, making the 32-year-old an interesting change of scenery candidate. 

Another name would be Padres lefty Kirby Yates who is having easily the best season of his career at 31-years-old, sporting an impressive 1.40 ERA while striking out nearly 33% of the batters he's faced in 2018. The Padres' asking price on Yates is murky as reports have come out saying San Diego has been involved in trade talks for Noah Syndergaard and Chris Archer.

Yates also has two more years of team control via arbitration and only cost the Padres just over $1 mil this season, which is great news for the Cubs who are up against the luxury tax. But with Yates' two more years of control could also be used to squeeze a better prospect out of the deal. 

The trade deadline is coming fast and with names being pulled off the market rapidly over the last 24 hours, the Cubs would best be served to work fast before the pitching market's talent dries up. 

Yankees get Britton, where do the Cubs go from here?

Yankees get Britton, where do the Cubs go from here?

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. 

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. 

Cubs are reported to be 'deeply involved' in trade talks for Zach Britton

Cubs are reported to be 'deeply involved' in trade talks for Zach Britton

The Cubs and Orioles reliever Zach Britton are once again being linked to each other, according to Patrick Mooney of the Athletic

Despite the front office denying any big moves coming before the July 31st deadline, but the Cubs' interest in Britton from last year makes this one with the Orioles stick a bit more. And when taking a look at Britton's fit on the club, a deal involving the lefty-reliever makes too much sense not to be true. 

And according to Jerry Crasnick of ESPN, the Orioles are trying to wrap up the trade in the next few days. 

The Cubs did add reliever Jesse Chavez earlier this week, but Chavez profiles more as a swingman and less of the late-inning arm Britton has been over his eight-year career. Due to injuries, Zach Britton isn't the guy who teams saw dominant in '15 &'16 when he saved a combined 134 games for the Orioles. 

However, his 2018 numbers are encouraging for a guy coming off a ruptured Achilles tendon with a 3.68 ERA with 13 strikeouts in 14.2 IP. And when you factor in the pedigree the Cubs would be adding to the back end of the bullpen on top of his expiring deal at the end of 2018, it would make the Cubs bullpen lethal in the postseason. 

There will be other suitors for Britton who could likely offer more in terms of prospects in return, but if the Cubs are serious about adding someone like Britton, they could always dip into their MLB roster and part with a Victor Caratini-type player. Infielder David Bote has also impressed with his surprise season, showing he can contribute in multiple roles. 

But the Cubs would be solving essentially two issues with one guy in Britton, with his ability to close and experience in late-inning situations while also replacing Mike Montgomery in the bullpen, who may be staying in the rotation longer than expected. He's also an upgrade over Brian Duensing, who has been ineffective this season, and Randy Rosario who seems more like smoke and mirrors and has never pitched in the postseason. 

Jed Hoyer did say earlier this week the Cubs will be adding depth before the trade deadline, but the asking price for arguably the best available reliever remaining on the market could end up being too rich for the Cubs to stomach. But it clearly won't stop them from at least weighing all options.