Cubs Reportedly Working to Trade Pitcher to Clear 40-Man Space, Keegan Thompson May Be Involved

The Cubs haven’t officially announced Cody Bellinger‘s deal yet, and it’s not because of issues with his physical. The delay comes from needing to clear a spot on the 40-man roster in order to accommodate the first player to whom they’ve ever paid $30 million for one season. Rather than losing someone for nothing with a DFA, a report from Sahadev Sharma says the team is “working to trade a pitcher away.” He added that the Cubs may even be deep enough in negotiations that they could DFA a player to clear a space and still make a trade work.

Another report/rumor on X named Keegan Thompson as the pitcher in question, which tracks when you consider his nebulous role among a group of several tweeners. The Rays, who were rumored to have interest in Thompson as part of talks on a Tyler Glasnow trade that never materialized, are said to be involved here. That could be good for the Cubs in terms of getting something in return, though you always have to question the wisdom of trading with the Rays.

Even if the Rays’ interest was merely inferred based on circumstantial evidence, Thompson fits the profile they tend to like. His fastball sits 94 mph and touches higher with a cutter/curve/sweeper mix that could be lethal if he’s able to figure out the control issues that have led to double-digit walk percentages in two of his three partial MLB campaigns.

After working mainly as a reliever in 2021, he spent most of ’22 as a starter and then worked exclusively as a reliever across 39 appearances between MLB and Triple-A last year. The Cubs have a lot of redundancy in that middle/long relief role, however, and Thompson is in that weird limbo where he might be viewed as expendable despite being more coveted by another team.

And hey, maybe it ends up being some other pitcher entirely since we know how Jed Hoyer moves steathily on these matters. Either way, we should get resolution on this quickly because the Cubs are going to need to add Bellinger here soon.

Update: As many on Facebook have already pointed out, the trade to clear space ended up being Bailey Horn to the White Sox for Matt Thompson. Just keep in mind trades are hardly straightforward enough that a team can depend on being focused on just one, especially when they need to make a move like this to clear space. I’m not saying they’re definitely working on moving another pitcher, or anyone else for that matter, only that conversations won’t stop just because their roster crunch has been alleviated for the time being.

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