This morning on MLB Network Jon Morosi hit us with more Yu Darvish trade rumors. What’s interesting is that he conjectures not specific rumors, but proffers that the San Diego Padres make the most sense as a trade partner should the Cubs pull the trigger on a blockbuster move:
This is a bit of a surprise, especially since Jon Heyman reported on Monday the odds the Cubs might trade Darvish are “very low”. Whether Morosi’s take on the Padres as the ideal trade partner is purely his own conclusion, or whether he’s heard it suggested by a source with enough clout to publicly assess San Diego’s potential to make a blockbuster move, is entirely unknown.
The rumor is out there, though, and as such it’s worth a deeper look.
Brett Taylor has a great breakdown from earlier today, and while the full article is worth a read, here are the salient points:
On the surface, the Padres do, indeed, match-up quite well with the Cubs. The Mike Clevinger injury certainly stings, but they’re still left with a solid trio of starters in Dinelson Lamet, Chris Paddack, and Zach Davies. Lefty Mackenzie Gore — a prospect so good he’d be untouchable in trade discussions — could become a rotation fixture in 2021, and fellow top prospect Luis Patino, who made his debut in 2020, is not far behind — and is also likely untouchable.
The Padres would love to bolster the rotation with a true Ace, however, and Darvish would be an ideal fit. Given that the Padres have significant prospect capital — even outside their top handful of prospects — and that a trade of Darvish would signal the Cubs are punting on 2021, a trade of this magnitude should focus on future talent.
While it’s true the Cubs are currently in need of at least two starters this offseason to fill out the rotation and add some depth, if they’re going to punt on the 2021 season, Darvish would likely bring the biggest possible return. Adding a few veteran starters on one year deals while accruing controllable, future assets in a blockbuster deal isn’t ideal for a team that could still compete in 2021, but this is where we’re at with the Cubs.
Since the All-Star Break in 2019, Darvish has been brilliant. In 157.2 innings, he’s posted a 2.40 ERA (2.54 FIP), with a 34.6 K% and 3.4 BB%. These numbers scream ‘Ace’, and it’s not hard to imagine why San Diego might be willing to dip into their prospect well to land a player of Darvish’s caliber — with three years of control, no less.
His production, contract length, and relative bargain for an Ace ($59 million due over next three seasons) will ensure any actual trade yields tremendous prospect return for the Cubs. If Jed Hoyer does pull the trigger on a Darvish trade it will be a sad day for the Cubs –but the Padres certainly are an ideal partner.
They need an Ace, and the Cubs could recoup a considerable amount of controllable pitching in return.
What can the Cubs get for Darvish?
Baseball Trade Values is a terrific tool in assessing potential trades, with realistic values ascribed to major league players based on “field value” and salary, and assigning value to minor leaguers based on scouting reports — or perceived future value.
It’s a handy tool to utilize when assessing potential trade partners, and since the Cubs are often rumored to be open for business this offseason, it’s been a tool I’ve become intimately familiar with. (Here’s a piece, along with Patrick Flowers, on a hypothetical crosstown swap of Kris Bryant.)
It’s understandable that the Cubs would want a big-league ready arm for Darvish, and the only player that makes sense in that regard is Adrian Morejon. The 21-year-old lefty hasn’t put it all together yet, but he has just 27.1 big league innings under his belt, debuting in 2019. Armed with a mid-90’s fastball, Morejon’s secondary offerings include a split-finger, curve, and slider.
The stuff is very real, although there are concerns about his maturity and ability to perform at a consistent level. Given that he’s just 21 I wouldn’t read much into the immaturity concerns, and I’m also bullish on the idea the Cubs’ Pitch Lab would help him discover consistency — with the ability to develop into a solid #2 starter.
Morejon is a great start in a trade — offering the Cubs a highly-talented, controllable asset they can plug into the rotation immediately. To round out the trade, a couple additional arms are needed, however.
The Padres number six prospect, Ryan Weathers, would make a lot of sense for the Cubs as well. The southpaw features a solid-if-not-dominant four pitch mix, and shows tremendous command of his low-90’s fastball that maintains a high spin rate. The son of former big leaguer David Weathers offers considerable pedigree, and the lefty — who made his MLB debut in the 2020 playoffs — should be ready for a full time audition in 2021 or 2022. He’s a perfect high-floor starter to add to the Cubs farm system.
Rounding out my trade proposal is the Padres 10th best prospect, Reggie Lawson. The 6’4 righty is just 23 years old, and boasts a mid-90’s fastball with a sharp curve and a developing changeup. There are concerns about his control — and he’s currently recovering from Tommy John surgery — but again, the Cubs pitching infrastructure can go a long way in developing his elite talent. Lawson is more of a high-ceiling gamble, but should he not pan out as a starter he could evolve into a dominant, back-end arm in the ‘pen.
Baseball Trade Values considers this as a minor overpay for the Padres, but that is an appropriate cost for Darvish at this point. The Cubs are far from desperate in a desire to trade Yu, even if the desire from ownership to slash payroll in 2021 is very real. Per the Bleacher Nation post above, these competing factors have led the Cubs to be open to a trade at “fair” market value for Darvish, and this is very much within the framework of his market value.
I shudder at the thought of the Cubs trading Darvish, for a multitude of reasons. A big market team trading their best starting pitcher in the name of slashing payroll is flat out ludicrous, as is throwing in the towel on the 2021 season in a very winnable NL Central. It sucks to think about, but since the rumors aren’t likely to cease anytime soon, there’s not much left to do but accept it as a possibility.
Should the Cubs perform a blockbuster trade with San Diego, landing a talented, ready-now arm (Morejon), a solid, middle-of-rotation projected lefty (Weathers), and a high-ceiling, uber talented rigthy (Lawson) would provide a shot in the arm for a franchise in desperate need of long-term pitching talent.
I hate to say it, but given the circumstances the Cubs are currently mired in, I might just pull the trigger on this theoretical endeavor.
Featured Photo: Nam Y. Huh, Associated Press
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