Toronto Blue Jays

Cubs staying involved in talks for starter J.A. Happ

Cubs staying involved in talks for starter J.A. Happ

The trade winds are swirling and the Cubs are once again appearing in more trade rumors, as Chicago Sun-Times beat writer Gordon Wittenmyer reports the Cubs are in on talks involving starter J.A. Happ. 

The 35-year-old veteran is having an ok season sporting a 4.18 ERA, a 3.84 FIP, with a career-high 10.26 K/9 (strikeouts per nine innings). But the most enticing part of Happ to the Cubs is his innings total, averaging close to six innings per game, making it to at least the 6th inning or further in 10 of his 20 starts this season. 

Happ isn't the front of the rotation arm that Jacob deGrom or Chris Archer are for their clubs, but Happ gives the Cubs an innings-eater with encouraging upside. Reports also surfaced Wednesday that the Blue Jays were also trying to move reliever Seunghwan Oh. 

Oh just turned 36-years-old a few weeks ago, but the Japanese veteran is having an excellent season out of the bullpen for Toronto. His 2.68 ERA is best on the Blue Jays roster, and he's struck out 5.5 batters for every walk he's issued this year. Oh is exactly the type of underrated acquisition the Cubs love this time year and would profile nicely towards the back end of the bullpen. 

With Nathan Eovaldi being traded from Tampa Bay to Boston Wednesday morning, teams are starting to get an idea what the going rate is for their assets and are looking to cash in their chips. The Cubs will have to hope they can convince a team to part with their arms for some mid-level farm talent or they might be left out in the cold this trade deadline season. 

Jose Abreu and the White Sox keep cranking homers, the latest a really long game-winner

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Jose Abreu and the White Sox keep cranking homers, the latest a really long game-winner

Meet the Chicago White Sox, baseball's unstoppable home-run hitting force.

"Unstoppable" is a bit hyperbolic, considering the South Siders are just 3-2 on the young season and just narrowly missed getting swept by the Toronto Blue Jays on Wednesday night. But the White Sox hit two more homers in a 4-3 victory to raise their total to a major league leading 14 in 2018.

Jose Abreu delivered what was the White Sox most important homer of the season so far, a tie-breaking, game-winning blast in the top of the eighth that while traveling an official 430 feet appeared to be just as muscled as the 481-foot bomb Avisail Garcia hit the night before, the longest homer in baseball so far this season.

And how about this? It was just the second time in his five big league seasons that Abreu homered on a 3-0 count.

Matt Davidson added his fourth home run of the campaign earlier in the game, becoming the first White Sox player ever to hit four homers in the team's first five games of a season.

All in all, the South Siders are up to 14 long balls, which is the most through five games in franchise history.

And all of this has come on the road. Guaranteed Rate Field has a reputation as a home-run friendly ballpark, meaning that once the weather warms up — it's supposed to be frigid for Thursday's home opener — these powerful White Sox could start sending balls out of the yard at quite a rate.

No matter where they're going from here, as they head back to the South Side, they are baseball's home run kings.

After busting out the boomstick vs. White Sox, should Josh Donaldson be fans' new crush for 2019?

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After busting out the boomstick vs. White Sox, should Josh Donaldson be fans' new crush for 2019?

White Sox fans will have plenty of time to continue their social-media lovefest over Baltimore Orioles star Manny Machado.

Long desired by South Side baseball fans, Machado is one of the headlining members of next season’s free-agent class. And while he’s moved from third base to shortstop, where Tim Anderson plays, and seems destined for one of the biggest contracts in baseball history, none of that is likely to deter hopes that he’ll wind up one of the finishing touches of Rick Hahn’s rebuilding effort.

But what if Machado goes to play for the New York Yankees or some other team? What if the White Sox need to search elsewhere for a free-agent addition to a team with a young core of planned rebuild stars?

The answer could be the guy hammering White Sox pitching this week in Toronto.

Josh Donaldson is one of the other superstars heading to the free-agent market next winter, and the White Sox have received an up-close-and-personal look at just how much of a game-changing bat he swings. Through the series’ first two games, Donaldson — whose light-hearted tiff with White Sox first base coach Daryl Boston’s whistle has made the social-media rounds in the past couple days — has mashed, going 3-for-8 with a pair of home runs, four RBIs, three runs scored and a walk. He was right in the middle of the Blue Jays' offensive onslaught against Miguel Gonzalez and a trio of relievers in Tuesday night's 14-5 pounding.

And it looks like he settled his "feud" with Boston, too.

Though Donaldson is an eye-popping seven years older than the still-just-25-year-old Machado, he could be a more realistic option for the White Sox — that is, should they be in the spending mood after the 2018 campaign. It’s very possible the White Sox won’t yet be ready to add a huge name like Machado or Donaldson, with young minor leaguers potentially still a year or more away from taking the team from rebuilding mode to full-on contention mode.

But if the determination is made that it is time to add a big name to the mix via free agency, Donaldson would be as attractive a candidate as any. He had a three-year stretch from 2014 to 2016 of three All-Star appearances and three top-10 finishes in American League MVP voting. He’s hit at least 33 home runs in each of the last three seasons, 2017’s batch of 33 dingers coming in just 113 games.

And he’d be a more logical fit than Machado, not only because he’d most likely come at a far cheaper price, but also because he could be inserted at third base, where the White Sox don’t have an entrenched prospect ready to take over in the future. Jake Burger’s development was dealt a significant delay when he ruptured his Achilles in spring training. Anderson is locked in at shortstop, and while you’d figure the White Sox would find a way to add Machado if they wanted him badly enough, a natural fit at third base could prove more sensible while allowing Anderson — who in the first four games of the 2018 campaign is 6-for-16 with three homers, four RBIs, six runs scored, a walk and three stolen bases — to continue to mature at shortstop.

And if the rebuilding White Sox are looking for a long-term add at third base in free agency but aren't yet ready when Donaldson hits the market, they could wait until after the 2019 season and take a swing at Colorado Rockies star Nolan Arenado.

As with everything Hahn’s front office is dealing with and will have to deal with over the next few years, there is a good deal of flexibility. Quite a bit could happen to change the situation for both Donaldson and the White Sox over the next seven months.

But while the White Sox are playing in Toronto this week, fans might want to think about a new man crush.