It’s no secret that the Cubs are pursuing pitching ahead of this year’s deadline, an endeavor that has become increasingly more urgent as injuries and poor performance dog their current staff. You’re right, “urgent” may perhaps be too strong a word, but there’s a sense that the Cubs are going to need to do something if they want to make any noise come October.
The problem that everyone knows they need pitching. If publicly available knowledge wasn’t bad enough, pitching coach Jim Hickey’s weekly radio appearances have done plenty to erode any negotiating leverage the Cubs might have. Hickey has been overly transparent in discussing Kyle Hendricks’ mechanical flaws, Jose Quintana’s shoulder fatigue, and Brandon Morrow’s ongoing biceps pain.
Despite all that, it’s possible the Cubs could still get one of their potential targets for a smaller return than when we first heard about their interest. According to SNY’s Andy Martino, the Blue Jays have dropped their asking price for lefty starter J.A. Happ.
No relation to I.A.N. Happ, the 35-year-old southpaw is having a resurgent campaign in the final year of his three-year, $36 million contract. Though he’s faltered a bit over the last month or so, Happ gets a lot of strikeouts (10.26 K/9) and doesn’t walk many (2.76 BB/9). That former tally easily outpaces any Cubs starter, for what it’s worth.
Citing “a person with direct knowledge of the talks,” Martino reports that the Jays had initially been seeking an elite prospect in return for Happ. He lists Justus Sheffield and Estevan Florial, the Yankees’ No. 1 and No. 2 overall prospects, as examples of who the Jays were looking for.
Knowing that there’s no way they’re getting such a return, the Jays’ ask has now dropped to “a more reasonable price.” Exactly how far that has dropped and what is considered “reasonable,” however, is really anyone’s guess.
So if you’re the Cubs, what do you part with for a guy who adds depth but isn’t really an impact pitcher? Happ seems like a nice get for a team that has a reliable 1-2 punch or even a really good trio and that simply needs a little more consistency in the middle of the rotation. And maybe they feel that’s exactly what they need, that Jon Lester, Kyle Hendricks, and Jose Quintana will all be pitching to their abilities by September.
Unless the price has dropped significantly from what they were looking for earlier in the month, I’d be telling the Jays to pound sand. Not that there are many options out there, far from it, it’s just that Happ is hardly a difference maker and he’s gone after this year anyway. But who knows, maybe the prices gets even lower as the deadline gets closer.