Cubs Nearly Acquired LHP With 20-Game Scoreless Streak: Report

Cubs brass thought they were close to a deal for Sam Moll last summer, before he was dealt to the Reds.

Getty Cubs brass thought they were close to a deal for Sam Moll last summer, before he was dealt to the Reds.

On August 9 of last season, less than two weeks after he was dealt from the A’s to the Reds, lefty reliever Sam Moll allowed two runs in a third of an inning and was charged with a blown save. After that, though, Moll did not allow another run in 20 stretch-run appearances, a span of 19.0 innings in which he allowed eight hits, 11 walks and struck out 14. Oh, and before he went to Cincinnati, Moll was nearly traded to the Cubs.

Oh, what might have been for a Cubs team that was 1.5 games behind the Brewers in the National League Central on September 6, but proceeded to close the year on a 7-15 slide. The Cubs were just one game out of a wild-card spot and while the team’s late flop was not entirely on the bullpen, a late-inning stopper like Moll might have been the difference between a postseason run and a non-playoff disappointment.

According to Reds beat writer Gordon Wittenmyer, before the Reds ultimately made the deal for Moll, sending starter Joe Boyle to Oakland, the Cubs thought Moll was coming their way. Alas, it was not to be.

Cubs ‘Were Close’ to Deal for Moll

Here’s what Wittenmyer, who was a longtime Cubs beat writer before he joined the Cincinnati Enquirer last year, wrote about the Moll situation this week.

“The Reds initially rejected the A’s request for Joe Boyle in the deadline trade for lefty reliever Sam Moll last summer.

“‘They said no on Joe a couple of times until they finally came back and said yeah,’ A’s GM David Forst said.

“Until then, the Chicago Cubs believed they were close to finalizing their own deal for Moll, a team source there said.”

In all, Moll was 2-0 with a 0.73 ERA for the Reds after the July 31 trade was finalized. Somewhat of a undersize late bloomer (Moll is 5-foot-9 and 32 years old), it was something of a rough Spring Training for Moll, as he battled shoulder soreness coming off his offseason throwing program. He allowed six runs in 1.2 innings in Arizona this month, for a hefty 32.40 ERA.

Craig Counsell a Top Bullpen Manager

As it stands, the Cubs figure to have a strong bullpen in 2024, anchored by closer Adbert Alzolay flanked by set-up men Julian Merryweather and Mark Leiter Jr. Hector Neris and Yancey Almonte figure to play major roles, too. The team is lacking in lefties—Moll would have helped there—but manager Craig Counsell likes his group.

Counsell had a reputation in Milwaukee for being one of the better managers when it comes to getting the most out of bullpen talent. Counsell is leaving the roles in the bullpen as an unanswered question, suggesting the unit will, “evolve.”

“As people, we love to know exactly what we’re going to do,” Counsell said of the bullpen, per The Athletic. “But at the same time, it’s not always best for the group to make it so defined. Sometimes it’s a little harder. The game doesn’t always present itself in this clearly defined way.

“The place we start with, with all pitchers, is our job is to get outs. If we start from that place and work to be a little more defined, that’s the best place to be.”

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