The San Diego Padres and Chicago Cubs have long been rumored to be communicating about a possible deal. The two have had discussions regarding the Padres’ need for a shortstop and the Cubs’ need for starting pitching. John Morosi of FOX Sports MLB tweeted late Wednesday night that the Cubs are in continued trade dialogue with multiple teams and the Padres are included.
#Cubs also have continued trade dialogue; they are interested in Tyson Ross, Carlos Carrasco, and Danny Salazar, among others.
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) December 10, 2015
The report indicates the Cubs are infatuated with Tyson Ross and are willing to put together a package for him. James Shields is also of interest to the Cubs, but at a much lesser degree. It is also worth noting that the Padres are also said to be heavily pushing Andrew Cashner in trade talks. The team is obviously listening to offers on all three pitchers, and given the nature of each pitcher and their contracts, each offer is probably very different.
Andrew Cashner is in the final year of his contract and will likely explore free agency. The Padres are well aware of that, and the team would love to get a decent package in return for the big right-hander. Unfortunately Cashner had a down year last year, but with the price of starting pitching on the rise, he makes a very smart choice for a team looking for a high-upside player.
James Shields is guaranteed $65 million for the next three seasons. That is, if he doesn’t opt out next season much like Zack Greinke did this season to the Dodgers. The opt-out clause and his high dollar contract make him a tricky player to trade. Shields also had a bad year last year, and that further complicates moving him. A.J. Preller is smart; he will not deal Shields unless he gets a return worthy. Some have called him untradable, but the recent contract signings are making his contract seem very reasonable. Besides, Preller is not one to sell when a players value is down.
Tyson Ross is the enigma here. The Padres surely do not want to deal him, but they are at the point where he could bring a huge return. After seeing what the Arizona Diamondbacks paid to the Atlanta Braves for Shelby Miller, then you really have to think about a potential move. The team acquiring him would need to give up Major-League-ready talent and a couple of prospects of real worth.
The Chicago Cubs have Javier Baez who seems likely to be moved after the team acquired Ben Zobrist. Early indications are that Zobrist will play second base allowing Kyle Schwarber to play left field for the club. Baez has enormous power potential, but the Cubs are happy with Addison Russell, a more polished prospect who is very solid all around at shortstop. Baez would be a great addition for the Padres, but what kind of return would the Cubs want for him?
There were rumors swirling that the Cubs and Braves almost agreed on a Shelby Miller for Javier Baez deal before the team moved Miller to the D’backs. The Cubs value the 23-year-old slugger and would not consider just trading him away for pennies on the dollar. Cashner for Baez wouldn’t work for the Cubs. They would want more than a pitcher who is only under control for one season. The Padres could sweeten the deal, but in reality the Cubs don’t need prospects at this point. Cashner doesn’t seem likely.
Shields in a deal involving Baez would be complicated. The Cubs would surely want the Padres to eat some of Shields’ salary, and even then, with the opt-out clause, the Cubs wouldn’t be inclined to pull a trigger on this either. Shields would make an excellent number three behind Jake Arrieta and Jon Lester, but the Cubs are probably inclined to look for a younger player in return for Baez and his high ceiling. Baez is just worth more to the Cubs than Shields at this point.
That opens the door for a Tyson Ross deal. The Cubs would surely like that, however the Padres wouldn’t be satisfied with just Baez alone. That is where the two teams probably are now. At a crossroads. The Cubs covet Ross, but probably believe Baez himself is close to enough to get a deal done. The Padres like Baez, but his strikeout issues and slight fielding issues are scary and not worth the risk of dealing a potential dominant pitcher like Tyson Ross.
So what will happen? The Cubs will have to be the team to give in as I do not see the Padres caving in on Tyson Ross’ value. They don’t have to. Ross is under contract for the next two seasons. Would the Cubs be willing to include someone like Jorge Soler or even Kyle Schwarber in a deal? If so then that might be enough, but the formalities would have to be worked out. There seems to be a little smoke to this story. Where there is smoke, there always tends to be fire. The Cubs need a starter, the Padres need an infielder. A big trade between the two clubs would hardly be a surprise given the mutual benefits to both sides.