Everyone loves to talk about the sexy trades. The Kris Bryant, Javier Baez, Craig Kimbrel tend to dominate the Chicago Cubs rumors scene – especially right now. But according to a recent report, a pair of relievers, specifically Andrew Chafin and Ryan Tepera – are on at least one team’s radar.
"There were a half-dozen scouts watching the Cubs and Cardinals on Tuesday night, including two from the White Sox. They are in search of some relief help and saw Cubs right-hander Ryan Tepera pitch a clean seventh inning just as White Sox right-hander Ryan Burr was giving up a lead to the Minnesota Twins. Tepera could be on the White Sox’s radar, as could left-hander Andrew Chafin — though their need is more from the right side than the left."
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Both of these guys would be a huge boost to any contender’s postseason chances. With most of the divisions in baseball still up for grabs, the White Sox are one of the only clubs who can (at least in theory) start to eye October and what they’ll need to come out on top when the dust settles. More often than not, the answer to that question is simple: arms.
Chafin has been brilliant for the Cubs this year, ranking in the top one percent of the league in wOBA and top four percent in XSLG, XWOBA, XWOBACON and xERA. His 32 percent hard-hit rate marks a career-best for the left-hander and his traditional numbers are just as impressive: 1.37 ERA, 0.737 WHIP, 4.3 H/9.
On a one-year, $2.75 million deal with a mutual option for 2022, Chafin is about as affordable as they come for a guy performing at this level. Which means the Cubs would undoubtedly like to get something solid in return – because if they’re truly looking to re-tool quickly, the lefty would bring a ton of value to the team next year.
As for Tepera, he’s picking up steam after getting shelved late in the first half with an injury. The veteran right-hander has been just as big a part of David Ross’ bullpen mix as Chafin and could be a sneaky valuable trade chip for the front office at the deadline.
On the year, Tepera has limited opponents to a .175 average – which ranks in the top five percent of pitchers. He relies largely on a four-pitch mix that’s proven to be incredibly effective this season – evidenced by a 3.02 ERA and 0.816 WHIP.
Chicago Cubs: These bullpen arms could prove to be incredibly valuable
A recent MLB.com piece actually pointed out that these middle-relief arms could wind up proving as valuable as the high-profile stars at the deadline, which executives expect to be a ‘frenzy’.
"“The crazy thing is there may be middle- to late-inning relievers who return as much as those stars because every contender is looking for bullpen help,” an AL executive said. “Not every team is looking for a shortstop, first baseman or third baseman. Every team needs pitching.”"
So while I’m sure you’re keeping an eye on the latest concerning Bryant and Kimbrel, be on the lookout for moves involving this next tier of players in the next week. They could wind up being the ones dealt in the end, especially if teams balk at asking prices on the Cubs’ star players.