Left: White Sox general manager Rick Hahn; Right: Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein

USA Today Sports

Mailbag: What Trades Could White Sox, Cubs Make?

Plus, what's in store for Michael Kopech's future?

Bruce Levine
July 11, 2018 - 11:55 am
Categories: 

(670 The Score) The MLB trade deadline is less than three weeks away. The Cubs are in the middle of a heated NL Central race. The White Sox are on the verge of calling up more prospects in the final months.

You have questions. We have answers. Let's get to the mailbag.

What are reasonable trade return values for James Shields, Joakim Soria and Avisail Garcia? 
-- Steven

The market value for the White Sox's veterans remains a subjective issue until the trade deadline and possibly into August, when trades are subject to the waiver process can still be made. Shields is obviously no longer a top-of-the-rotation pitcher for a contending team, but he has refocused his approach. The problem is that patient hitting teams will be more productive against his breaking ball style. On the trade market, Shields will be looked at as a stopgap for a team that has lost a pitcher due to injury. He still has some productive days ahead of him.

Soria isn't a closer at this point of his career, but he's a fearless competitor who can pitch the seventh inning for a contender. A minor league pitcher with a good arm would be sufficient return for him. Garcia is too iffy physically to purchase right now, as he's back on the disabled list with a strained hamstring that already kept him out nearly two months earlier this season. If he returns July 19, he'd only have a 12-day window to prove he's healthy, and that'd be pushing it. A waiver deal in August could bring a prospect or two that are rated between No. 7 and No. 10 in another organization's system.

Where do you see Manny Machado landing? 
— Jordan

The smart money is on the Dodgers acquiring the slugging Machado from the Orioles. Both the Dodgers and Yankees have strong minor league systems that could seal a trade. A dark horse candidate could be the Mariners, as general manager Jerry Dipoto has made more trades than any executive over the past two years. Machado is a difference-maker in tight games against front-line pitchers. Even though he's a two-month rental, someone will overpay for him in believing that he can carry a team into a deep playoff run.

How do the Cubs view the trade value of Addison Russell and Ian Happ? 
— Tom 

If the Cubs were to trade Russell now, their infield depth and quality would be impacted. Russell's value is underrated by many, in part because of some erratic throwing issues and because he struggled offensively in 2017. But his bat is starting to look like the 2016 version, and Russell has as much range as any middle infielder in the game. A trade of Russell would be more likely to happen after the 2018 campaign, not in season. All that aside, Russell and Happ would both be in play right now for a pitcher like Mets ace Jacob deGrom, who's under contract control through 2020. Any team looking to acquire deGrom now would be looking at having three playoff runs with him as a front-line starter. The Cubs brass may value Happ long term over Kyle Schwarber because of his speed, versatility and power from both sides of the plate.

Between the back end of the rotation/rotation depth/bullpen help, who would be among the Cubs’ wish list for trades?
— Brandon 

The Cubs should and will pursue pitching help, as general manager Jed Hoyer confirmed on 670 The Score on Wednesday morning. And they'll have their sights on both starting rotation and bullpen help. Keep an eye on Orioles reliever Zach Britton, a power pitching who's back to throwing 97 miles per hour. The Cubs came close to picking up Britton last July before they acquired reliever Justin Wilson from the Tigers. Starters like deGrom will be on the Cubs' radar with the health of Yu Darvish up in the air. Theo Epstein and Hoyer have a track record of being aggressive, and the Cubs' window to win is right now. This time, the difference is that the Cubs will have to trade off their big league roster to make a big move.

You recently mentioned on air that Michael Kopech may fit best as the White Sox’s closer of the future. That took me by surprise. Are the White Sox open to transitioning him to a closer’s role in the near future or is that a last-ditch move?
— Todd

Why do I think the 22-year-old Kopech may end up closing? Because he has one of the great weapons in baseball in throwing an easy 100 miles per hour. Kopech also has the carefree "I don't give a damn" attitude that you find in the best closers. As a closer, Kopech could dominate with two pitches, much like power pitchers Lee Smith and Goose Gossage got rid of their third and fourth pitches, which made them more dominant in the short role. I would rather have Kopech saving bullets and blowing batters away in the ninth inning. Kopech currently leads all International League pitchers in strikeouts (111) and walks (56). Make it an easy choice and have him closing for the White Sox in 2019.

Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.​