While the market’s eye is trained on Manny Machado, the Chicago Cubs are looking to scoop up a top reliever.
In each of the last two years, the Chicago Cubs have made bold moves to bolster the backend of its bullpen. Two years ago they traded away top prospects to land Aroldis Chapman, a move that resulted in the first World Series title since 1908. Last year it was Wade Davis, to lesser degrees of success (no World Series).
This year appears to be a continuation of that trend. With the bullpen an issue, Chicago is approaching the deadline looking for late-inning relief.
According to Bruce Levine of 670 The Score, the Cubs are among the teams interested in Brad Hand and Zach Britton. Both are considered to be the cream of the reliever crop on the trade market, both able to fill giant holes in the Chicago bullpen.
Hand has been rumored to be on the move for basically the entire season. With the Padres going nowhere and in a position to add a few top prospects to add to its growing core, moving Hand makes sense. Baltimore is in a similar position, except with a more grim outlook. Where San Diego might actually compete in a few years, the Orioles are selling off their franchise player as they blow up the current incarnation of the team.
Chicago has prospects to offer either team, it’s just a matter of whether it matches up with other teams. Boston and Cleveland are both in need of late-innings relief and could make a move that blocks the Cubs. Hand might be the most attainable of the assets since it’s looking like Britton could be packaged in a Manny Machado deal to maximize the quality of prospects the Orioles receive.
Either way, the Cubs are leading the National League at the All-Star Break, and seem prepared to keep it that way afterwards by shoring up the bullpen.