Cubs Trade Rumors: Astros Hot After Gray, New Name in Potential Cubs Targets

As we noted a couple days ago, the Brewers and Astros appeared to be the most aggressive suitors for Sonny Gray, with Houston likely having the most desire to go all in. That was reaffirmed by Jon Morosi, who says that talks between the A’s and Astros are “heating up.”

While the 27-year-old righty could help his new team, he certainly hasn’t given them any breaks when it comes to what they’ll have to give up for him. With a 1.62 ERA (2.92 FIP) and 27 strikeouts against 7 walks over his last 33.1 IP (five starts), Gray is looking like every bit of the top-end starter he’s been billed as when healthy.

Whether it’s in addition to Gray or as a Plan B should the price get too high, the ‘Stros are continuing to check in or other pitchers.

Morosi went on to note in a subsequent tweet that this would be contingent upon Detroit eating some of Verlander’s contract, which we recently heard they were willing to do.

It seems very unlikely that the Cubs have anything to do with the Gray sweepstakes at this point, but the bigger news is that the Brewers may be out as well. Despite losing four straight and falling to even with the Cubs in the loss column, Milwaukee certainly isn’t ready to punt on the season. They may not be ready to shift their rebuild into high gear, either, so the price for Gray could be too rich for their blood.

The Cubs’ recent run and the imminent return of Kyle Hendricks has them feeling pretty good about their future, but Theo Epstein had said after the Jose Quintana deal that strong play might make them more aggressive. It’s hard to see them making a big move at this point, though there is a new name that has been generating a little speculative buzz online lately.

Reports have the Cubs expressing interest in Royals lefty Mike Minor, a starter-turned-reliever who has resuscitated his career in KC this season. It should be noted that this rumored interest doesn’t appear to be substantiated to a great degree, though credit is given to the Chicago Tribune’s Mark Gonzales for initially reporting it.

My first thought on this is that it seems a bit odd, given the similarities between Minor and Mike Montgomery. And I’m talking about more than their names. Both are lefties who began as starters and really gained steam after being moved to relief roles. With Montgomery presumably heading back to the pen, Minor strikes me as an unnecessary redundancy.

If, however, the Cubs want to run with a six-man rotation, Minor is a guy who could slide to the bullpen. He’s only owed a little less than $2 million for the balance of the season and has a mutual option for $10 million next year, so he could serve as a band-aid for the rotation in 2018. But that, combined with Kyle Hendricks’ activation would require the removal of both a bullpen arm (probably Justin Grimm at this point) and a bench bat (Tommy La Stella?).

And then there’s the matter of which guys in the minors they’d have to give up to get Minor, who is a major leaguer but not a major piece. The front office knows more than I do, though, so I’ll leave that to them. Whether or not this particular scuttlebutt comes to anything, I do believe these are the kinds of moves the Cubs will be looking to make over the next week and a half.

By that I mean bullpen arms, particularly those who still have options remaining. With the current roster performing well pretty much across the board, the big key is to shore things up and make incremental increases in talent and depth without selling too much to make that happen.

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