Chicago Cubs: Two targets to strengthen this bullpen

(Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images)
(Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images) /

We’re still months from the trade deadline, but Chicago Cubs rumors have already surfaced connecting the team to major bullpen additions.

The Chicago Cubs bullpen has experienced a roller-coaster start to the season. Following one of the worst starts in all of baseball, the bullpen proceeded to go on the best 30-game stretch in the league, helping this team become one of baseball’s best here in late May.

With a few lesser-known names like Kyle Ryan stepping up and some key pieces on the injured list in the form of Pedro Strop and Brandon Morrow, it’s almost time to start thinking about arms that could strengthen this pitching staff.

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Theo Epstein has made it known he wants to pursue another strong reliever or closer this summer, and there are a few potential targets that would fit well in this bullpen. With another letdown from the bullpen in a thriller against the Philadephia Phillies on Monday night, it feels like the right time to discuss a few options.

Recently, rumors connected the Cubs to Ken Giles of the Toronto Blue Jays. Giles has been in the league for six seasons, playing for the Phillies, Astros and Blue Jays.

Through the six seasons, the right-hander has an ERA of 2.72, along with 101 saves. Adding 420 strikeouts in 314 innings pitched make him exactly what you want in a closer.

It’s also worth noting that through 19 innings this year, Giles has an ERA of 1.37 with 10 saves and 31 strikeouts. Along with the numbers, this guy makes a ton of sense as a trade candidate. The Blue Jays are in rebuild mode, and they happen to compete in a division with the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays – all of whom could win 90 games for the second consecutive season. The playoffs are definitely not in this team’s sights and getting a few good prospects for the 28-year-old hurler would definitely be in the team’s best interests.

The one question mark aroundGiles is his temper. He has been known to wear his emotions on his sleeve, and not always in the best light, as it helped earn himself a demotion to Triple-A during his time with the Astros. This is something the Cubs should definitely do their homework on before they make a pursuit, as the character of a player can be just as important as their numbers.

The other potential target on my personal list is Alex Colome of the crosstown rival Chicago White Sox. Colome is a seven-year MLB veteran and has spent five and a half seasons with Tampa Bay, and the other season-and-a-half between Seattle and Chicago.

With a career 3.06 ERA and 105 saves under his belt, Colome could help fill the late-inning void in the Chicago bullpen. He carries a 2.00 ERA through 18 frames of work this year, going a perfect nine-for-nine in save opportunities.

The South Siders acquired Colome in a trade this past offseason and signed him to a one-year deal. However, with all of the injuries piling up, the South Siders’ season outlook is gloomy. As we get closer to the trade deadline, it would not be surprising if they looked to flip the closer for a prospect or two.

Without an arm locked into the closer role, the Cubs should definitely make a pursuit for one of these two arms. With the Kyle Ryan experiment all but over, and Brandon Morrow’s return in doubt, there’s a great opportunity for Epstein to add another impact pitcher.

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Having Aroldis Chapman in 2016 and Wade Davis in 2017 gave everyone so much confidence late in games, and ever since their departures, there’s been uncertainty in the closer role. Without breaking the bank for Craig Kimbrel, trading for Colome or Giles is the next best thing.