3 eаrly trаde tаrgetѕ the Chісаgo Cubѕ ѕhould keeр аn eye on

The Chicago Cubs are seemingly just a few good players away from having playoff-worthy ballclub. The fresh new offense has been putting up promising numbers while the starting rotation has been mostly elite. Marcus Stroman, Justin Steele, and Drew Smyly are all groundball-heavy pitchers and their tendency to get hitters to put the ball in play is perfect for the Cubs’ gold-glove-caliber defense. The main weakness so far has been the bullpen, which does not have a true closer and not enough left-handed arms. There are teams out there with bullpen arms that can help this team win, and the Cubs should look into adding some of them at the trade deadline.

1. LHP A.J. Puk

Miami Marlins left-handed reliever A.J. Puk has emerged as the team’s de facto closer this year as the 28-year-old is boasting a 0.75 ERA with a WHIP of 0.83. He has 5 saves on the season so far and he is looking like one of the anchors of a sneaky good Marlins bullpen. But the Marlins are not going anywhere with this team in a division where the Philadelphia Phillies, New York Mets, and Atlanta Braves are ahead of them.

Yes, the team is playing well, with a 16-13 record after sweeping the Cubs over the weekend. However, by the time the deadline rolls around, the Marlins will likely once again be sellers and Puk is a good guy for the Cubs to target. He provides a lockdown left-handed arm, which the Cubs do not have currently as their only southpaw in the bullpen is Brandon Hughes who is on his second IL stint of the year. The only problem is Puk’s stock will be high due to the three years of team control still on his deal and it will only get higher if he keeps pitching well. But the Cubs need bullpen help and Puk could be a guy.

2. LHP Aroldis Chapman

Who doesn’t like a little reunion? Former Cubs closer Aroldis Chapman has reemerged as a lockdown guy in his first month with the Kansas City Royals. In 11 outings this year, Chapman has a 1.74 ERA an 19 strikeouts over 10 innings. Perhaps most importantly, Chapman’s velocity seems to have returned to his usual triple-digit level. He is showing signs of his former power pitching levels and the Cubs should consider giving the Royals a prospect or two to bring Champman back to Chicago.

In the final year of his contract with the Yankees, 2022 was the worst year Chapman had in a long time with a 4.46 ERA in 36 innings. In fact, this was the first time in his career he had an ERA over 4, and his performance resulted in the Yankees moving on from him. However, Chapman was also plagued by multiple injuries last year which definitely impacted his numbers. The Royals gave him a one-year deal worth $3,750,000, so the Cubs will not have to give up much since Chapman will be a rental. The Royals will most definitely not be competitive since they haven’t even won their 10th game yet (7-22 record at the time of this writing). Chapman helped bring a World Series championship to Chicago before, perhaps he will be willing to return to the city he won a ring with.

3. RHP Tyler Rogers

The San Francisco Giants are looking like the odd team out in the NL West with the Arizona Diamondbacks possibly back to a competitive level for the first time in years. The San Diego Padres and Los Angeles Dodgers will be playoff teams, and the Giants are sitting in 4th place with an 11-17 record. In order to be competitive, the Giants will have to turn things around in a big way and even if they do, they will be competing for a Wild Card spot in a crowded National League field. I predict they will sell at the deadline.

One of the few promising arms in an underperforming Giants bullpen is Tyler Rogers, who sported an ERA below 1 before a couple of bad outings against the Padres in the last week. Aside from those two games, Rogers has used his signature submarine-style delivery successfully this year with a 2.93 ERA over 15 innings. With a wicked rising fastball and vanishing slider, Rogers would be an excellent addition to the Cubs bullpen and he is under team control for two more seasons. One of the most intriguing parts of his game is the fact that Rogers tends to keep the ball in the yard, having given up just 12 home runs in his entire career over 217 innings. During the hot summer months when the ball carries at Wrigley Field, this could be a very valuable asset.

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