Cubs walk-off Reds; deal Chafin to Oakland

                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  • Former Chicago Cubs relief pitcher Andrew Chafin, right, walks to the dugout after turning the ball over to manager David Ross during the seventh inning of a baseball game against the Arizona Diamondbacks in Chicago, Saturday, July 24, 2021.

    Former Chicago Cubs relief pitcher Andrew Chafin, right, walks to the dugout after turning the ball over to manager David Ross during the seventh inning of a baseball game against the Arizona Diamondbacks in Chicago, Saturday, July 24, 2021.

 
 
Updated 7/26/2021 11:38 PM

It feels like the Cubs are marking time these days. There are games to play, but eyes and ears are focused on what might happen before Friday's MLB trade deadline.

Another shoe dropped during Monday's game against the Reds. Right around the time Kyle Hendricks walked in the go-ahead run in the fifth inning -- which is a strange occurrence in itself -- reports began of the Cubs sending reliever Andrew Chafin to Oakland.

 

The Cubs did deliver some good theater, sending Javy Baez out to pinch hit against Reds reliever Amir Garrett with the bases loaded in the ninth. Baez launched the first pitch just short of the warning track in center for a hit to give the Cubs a 6-5 walk-off victory. Baez didn't start due to a bruised heel.

Earlier this season, Baez jumped out of the dugout in Cincinnati to confront Garrett after some trash talk directed at Willson Contreras. Baez had plenty to say as he walked to first base, but the two players stayed separated.

After Monday's game ended, the trade was made official. In return, the Cubs get Triple A outfielder Greg Deichman, a 2017 second-round pick out of LSU and the Athletics' No. 9 prospect, according to mlbpipeline.com. The other player is right-handed pitcher Daniel Palencia, a 21-year-old Venezuela native pitching in Class A.

So what else will happen by Friday? Well, there are plenty of variables.

Do the Cubs want top-level prospects in return or would a basket of Class A-level guys suffice? Does team president Jed Hoyer have any confidence the Cubs can re-sign Baez, Kris Bryant or Anthony Rizzo this winter?

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It seems logical closer Craig Kimbrel is the most likely Cubs player to be dealt, since he's been one of the best relievers in baseball this season. Kimbrel pitched Monday's ninth inning and got the win.

Starting pitching is thought to carry the biggest premium this year, so Zach Davies could draw some offers. It doesn't seem likely the Cubs move Hendricks, who is signed through 2024, but anything is possible with so many teams seeking starters.

Hoyer's best approach might be a package deal. Some combination of Bryant, Kimbrel and Davies could conceivably draw a better return, because not only is a team getting multiple players, it can assure its rivals won't get them.

That's certainly the case in the NL West, where the Giants and Padres might see the Dodgers as vulnerable and be ready to make a big move now before Los Angeles can restock with former Cubs.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

It seems less likely the Cubs would help a division rival. But the Brewers might figure this is the best chance they'll have to win the World Series with three strong starters, and make an eye-opening offer for someone like Bryant.

The same could be true for the upper echelon of AL contenders. The White Sox have a few gaps to fill, the Astros have been linked to Kimbrel, there have been calls for the Red Sox to bring Rizzo back to where his pro career began, and the Athletics have a history of accepting late-season rentals.

Baseball America updated its top 100 prospects list and the Giants, Dodgers and Mets had five each. The Mets were rumored to have interest in Bryant since last winter, but there's also been talk of the Mets being anxious to add another starting pitcher. So it's tough to make any predictions.

Rizzo homered for the second straight day. He delivered a 2-run shot with Bryant on base in the first inning to give the Cubs an early 2-0 lead. But Joey Votto and Kyle Farmer homered as Cincinnati took a 5-3 lead.

Hendricks ended a streak of 13 consecutive starts going at least 6 innings, but he was off the hook for the decision once Contreras tied the score with a home run in the bottom of the eighth.

• Twitter: @McGrawDHSports

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