MLB News: Chicago Cubs Scouting New York Yankees’ Bullpen

After earlier reports that the Chicago Cubs were interested in New York Yankees pitchers Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman, the Cubs may be preparing to ramp up their pursuit.

According to George A. King III of the New York Post, scout Jason Parks was in attendance at Yankee Stadium this week to scout the Yankees’ trio of elite relievers. Miller, Chapman, and Dellin Betances would all represent massive upgrades for the Cubs’ bullpen despite their league-best 42-18 record entering play on Sunday.

Chapman, 28, is a free agent after this season and as King mentions, he’s not expected to re-sign with New York. Since returning from a 30-day suspension in May, Chapman has pitched to a 1.93 ERA while converting 11 saves in 12 opportunities. He has struck out 21 batters in 14 innings of work (13.5 K/9).

Miller, 31, is under contract through 2018 at a reasonable $9 million price tag. After signing a four-year, $36 million agreement prior to last season, Miller has continued a prolonged run of excellence. The lefty converted 36 saves in 38 tries last season and was shifted to a set-up role with the acquisition of Chapman in the offseason. He’s notched seven saves in eight opportunities this season while pitching to a 3-0 record, 1.01 ERA and striking out 48 batters in 26-and-two-thirds innings (16.2 K/9).

Betances, 28, is described by King as “the best bargain in baseball.” He’s earning just $507,500 this season and is arbitration-eligible for three more seasons after 2016. The New York native has run into some struggles this year but his numbers still sit at a respectable 3.23 ERA with 59 strikeouts in 30-and-two-thirds innings (17.3 K/9). Fro 2014-15, Betances made two American League All-Star teams and pitched to a 1.45 ERA.

Entering Sunday, the Yankees are a.500 team with a record of 31-31; three games back of a Wild Card spot and 5.5 games back of the Boston Red Sox in the AL East. There has been a lot of talk that the Yankees’ poor play for most of 2016 could end up with them trading away several assets at the trade deadline.

The Cubs have received solid work from their bullpen. Closer Hector Rondon is 11-for-11 in saves and owns a minuscule 1.40 ERA through 21 appearances. Former Baltimore Orioles reliever Pedro Strop has been solid as the set-up man, pitching a 2.78 ERA through 27 appearances. However, as MLB Trade Rumors noted, their other relievers — primarily Trevor Cahill, Travis Wood, and former Yankee Adam Warren — may soon see a steep decline in their production.

Earlier in the week, the Post’s Joel Sherman reported that the Cubs are unlikely to include slugger Kyle Schwarber in a potential deal for Miller — or any other of the Yankees’ relievers. Despite likely being out for the rest of 2016 with a knee injury, Schwarber has proven to be one of MLB’s most potent power bats and is just 23-years-old.

Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times reports that Schwarber, Javier Baez, and top prospect Willson Contreras are likely off-limits in trade talks. However, several other young pieces, primarily slugging outfielder Jorge Soler could be available. Since coming to the MLB from Cuba, the power-hitting Soler has not put together a full season of production. This season he’s batting a disappointing 0.223/0.322/0.377 with five home runs and 13 runs batted in (RBIs).

The 24-year-old Soler is currently on the disabled list due to a hamstring injury. He’ll have a chance to play left field when he returns but next season, he’ll be blocked by a crowded outfield in Chicago. With the Yankees losing Carlos Beltran to free agency after this season, Soler could be a target of interest as the team’s right fielder of the future.

[Featured Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images]

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