In one of the most surprising storylines of the MLB season so far, the Chicago Cubs, who broke a 108-year title drought by winning the 2016 World Series, are two games under .500, sporting a disappointing 43-45 record entering the All-Star break.
The Cubs trail the Milwaukee Brewers by 5.5 games halfway through the season and seemingly need to make a big move before the July 31 trade deadline if they want to compete for a postseason berth this year.
One potential trade partner is Detroit, as the Tigers are in fourth place in the American League Central division and have several starting pitchers who could be available for the right price.
However, that pitcher won't be ace Justin Verlander, who despite his struggles this season, is still a very good starter. A source told Peter Gammons of Gammons Daily that the price tag on Verlander is way too high for the Cubs:
“No one is going to pay $70M for him, even though he may still be a very good pitcher,” the source said.
Indeed, that is a price the Cubs' front office will likely balk at, but Chicago would have to include a couple of big-name prospects to get Detroit to take on a chunk of Verlander's remaining salary in any potential deal.
Therefore, the Cubs may instead try to land All-Star pitcher Michael Fulmer, who won the AL Rookie of the Year award in 2016 and is off to a hot start this year, posting a 9-6 record and 3.19 ERA through 17 starts so far in 2017.
Fulmer has also struck out 84 batters in 115.2 innings of work while only allowing seven home runs and has only walked 26 opponents.
The Tigers, though, haven't been able to capitalize on their young star's success and find themselves eight games behind the first-place Cleveland Indians. Therefore, they might be interested in hearing what the Cubs would offer for Fulmer and any number of other pitchers on their roster.
The Cubs also have interest in Daniel Norris, another young Tigers starter, but Norris has struggled much more than Verlander this year, posting a disappointing 5.29 ERA through 16 starts.
That may mean Norris would be cheaper for the Cubs to acquire via trade, though, so it's possible the team could still have interest in the struggling left-hander.
There will be plenty of trade partners available for the Cubs as the month wears on, but it will be interesting to see what Chicago's roster looks like on Aug. 1, because if something doesn't change soon, the defending world champions may fail to make the postseason.