Chicago Cubs: 3 cheap trade targets to add pitching depth

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Mike Fiers Detroit Tigers
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Detroit Tigers’ starter Mike Fiers could also be on Cubs wish-list.

In his first season in Detroit, Mike Fiers is putting up some of the best numbers of his career. With the Tigers building for the future, the 33-year-old starter will likely be used to acquire young, controllable talent.

The Tigers are at the beginning of a rebuilding period and should be looking to move some of their veteran players again this season. The Cubs and Tigers have swapped players as recently as the 2017 trade deadline when the Cubs acquired Justin Wilson and Alex Avila from the Motor City, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see the clubs work together again.

At 33, Fiers likely doesn’t fit into the Tigers’ future plans. However, he does still have one more year of arbitration. As a controllable, low-cost player who won’t see free agency until 2020, Fiers is a great candidate to get moved before the deadline. ESPN’s Buster Olney reported that teams have recently been evaluating Fiers.

Fiers is piecing together his best season in recent memory. He’s currently sporting a 3.49 ERA and 1.24 WHIP, both of which are the best he’s posted since an abbreviated 2014 season in which he appeared in only 14 games.

Despite struggling with a lack of command last season, Fiers has lowered his BB/9 rate from 3.64 in 2017 to 1.95 this season, good for 10th best among qualified starters. The Cubs rank 29th among all major league teams in BB/9 rate, trailing only the Chicago White Sox. Fiers’ command could bring a lift to a struggling staff on the North Side.

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Despite peripheral numbers pointing to regression, Fiers’ experience pitching as both a starter and out of the bullpen could give the Cubs some much-needed versatility. In a best-case scenario, with Darvish and Smyly returning from injury and pitching well, Fiers could easily become the long man out of the bullpen, supplanting the likes of the less-experienced and underperforming Luke Farrell.

With one more year of arbitration remaining, if the Cubs make a move to pick up Fiers, he could add depth both this year and next.