The Chicago Cubs have come out of nowhere to play like the best team in baseball, and it looks like they’re only going to get better.
Surging since the All-Star break, the Cubs have won six consecutive games through Thursday before a loss to the St. Louis Cardinals on Friday, and sit just one game behind the Milwaukee Brewers in the National League Central. The defending World Series champs were a disappointing 43-45 heading into the Midsummer Classic. Now, the front office is doing its due diligence to make sure they continue to climb out of that hole.
On Friday, MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reported that the Cubs are interested in trading for righty starter Yu Darvish of the Texas Rangers. The four-time All-Star would be yet another marquee name for a club that seems to be teeming with them.
Darvish is pitching well this year, his first full campaign since 2013. The Japan native missed all of 2015 and some of last season thanks to Tommy John surgery, making his 3.45 ERA and strong strikeout rate especially impressive. Furthermore, Darvish makes a lot of sense for the Cubs, who have a well-stocked rotation but could stand to replace solid swingman Mike Montgomery with a true ace.
Whether or not a deal comes to fruition, the report shows that the Cubs aren’t done adding pieces in preparation for a late pennant run. It was less than two weeks ago that general manager Theo Epstein traded four prospects to the Chicago White Sox for crosstown ace Jose Quintana, who tossed seven scoreless innings en route to an 8-0 win in his North Side debut.
That victory, like most of the past week, was a stark reminder of just how good the Cubs can be when they’re in sync. They have won their last six games, posting a +27 run differential over that stretch — no team, not even juggernauts like the Dodgers and Astros, has been even close to that.
The big bats, Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant (who just went down with a sprained finger) have done work, but so have lighter hitters like Wilson Contreras and Jason Heyward. The pitching, meanwhile, has also been great, with John Lackey making a successful return from the disabled list and Jake Arrieta pitching like himself again.
This is what the Cubs were supposed to be all season long: a team with too many weapons to not win prolifically. Their recent success isn’t a mere fluke, but more of a correction. It makes total sense that they’d want to throw some gasoline on the fire by acquiring another bona fide star.
Of course, Epstein will need to pay a high price for a pitcher of Darvish’s calibre, and with just one Top 100 prospect remaining in the organisation, the Cubs may not have the resources to do it with farm fresh talent alone.
The Rangers, for their part, are said to be gauging interest in their star pitcher.