With the free agent market for starting pitching beginning to heat up, all eyes remain on the Tampa Bay Rays as there is a growing belief that the team will move starting pitcher Tyler Glasnow this off-season.
Earlier on Monday, the St. Louis Cardinals made another improvement to their starting rotation as they signed Sonny Gray to a three-year deal worth $75MM. The Cincinnati Reds were also involved in the market for Gray but ultimately were unable to close the deal before he opted to sign with the Cardinals.
The Reds may now pivot to Glasnow, a speculated trade target of the Cubs.
The key in Mark Sheldon's report is not that the Reds have interest in Glasnow as that would be bad for the Cubs but what the Rays are seeking in exchange for Glasnow. If the Rays are truly looking for MLB-ready starting pitching in exchange for Glasnow, that would be perfectly aligned with what the Cubs have to offer.
The two names that come first to mind on the Cubs' side are Javier Assad and Hayden Wesneski. Of course, if the Cubs have their preference, it would seem they would want Wesneski to be a part of their offer to Tampa Bay as opposed to Assad.
After beginning the season as the Cubs' fifth starter, Wesneski struggled with consistency in 2023. Wesneski posted a 4.63 ERA in a tick over 89 innings pitched this season. Wesneski's strikeout numbers dipped considerably at the Major League level last season as he struck out 21.9% of the batters faced, down nearly 3% from his mark at the end of the 2022 season when he made his Major League debut.
There was no development plan for Wesneski last season as injuries in the bullpen forced former Cubs' manager David Ross to use the former top pitching prospect as a long-reliever out of the bullpen. For a team like the Rays that has success in getting the most out of pitchers, Wesneski would be an intriguing target.