Cubs acquire Barret Loux, DFA LaHair, Gutierrez. Protect McNutt, Watkins, Whitenack, and Villanueva

Cubs acquire Barret Loux, DFA LaHair, Gutierrez. Protect McNutt, Watkins, Whitenack, and Villanueva

According to Carrie Muskat, the Cubs opened up a roster spot by dealing Jake Brigham back to the Texas Rangers in exchange for AA prospect RHP Barret Loux.  Loux only has 2 years of professional baseball under his belt and does not need to be protected.  The Cubs will also receive a player to be named later from the Rangers.

Loux had an outstanding season last year, going 14-1 with a 3.47 ERA (3.66 FIP).  He showed solid control with just under 3 walks per 9 innings while striking out just over 7.   He was ranked as the Rangers 20th best prospect going into the season but his stock has risen since then.

According to Baseball America,

He has an easy low 90s fastball that reaches 96, though it's somewhat straight. The development of Loux's secondary stuff will determine his future role. Some scouts see him as a mid-rotation starter while others project him as a middle reliever.

Loux was once a 6th pick overall by the Arizona Diamondbacks though he was considered more of a supplemental round talent.  The pick was more about signability.  Loux however, had some injury concerns and the D'Backs backed out of the deal, allowing Texas to sign him later as a free agent.

Brigham was acquired last trade deadline for C Geovany Soto

The Cubs also DFA'd Bryan LaHair and added RHP Trey McNutt, 3B Christian Villanueva, IF-OF Logan Watkins, and one surprise, RHP Robert Whitenack.  The last name is encouraging because it probably means he is healthy and the Cubs feel he has a chance to regain his pre-injury form.

Nick Struck not being protected is the other big surprise.

The Cubs also waived RP Carlos Gutierrez, as I speculated would be a possibility in my earlier roster piece.

UPDATE: Gutierrez has cleared and has been assigned to AAA Iowa.  Despite his good stuff and potential as an RP, it isn't surprising that another team isn't willing to use up a 40 man roster spot at this point.

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  • fb_avatar

    You would think the PTBNL has be significant for this to happen -- the Rangers lose a roster spot and a top-20 prospect.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Could be. Brigham is a bit of a lesser prospect, plus the injury and the roster spot make Loux more valuable,

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Carrie Muskat is reporting we get the PTBNL. That makes no sense, but okay.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Yeah, I misread my own re-tweet I've fixed it now. Nice deal for the Cubs.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    hmm... CarrieM seems to think it's Loux + PTBNL for Brigham. She suggested that they just reworked the Geo Soto deal which originally included Brigham + PTBNL.

  • In reply to Furiousjeff:

    that's excellent ... Loux and PTBNL for Brigham would be awesome, IMO.

  • Late to the news, but that sounds like a good deal. Very curious who the PTBNL is, though.

  • there are conflicting reports, is the ptbnl going to the cubs or the rangers? also with the cubs roster now set at 40, does that not enable them to take someone in the rule 5 draft?

  • In reply to jshmoran:

    They just need to have 1 open spot before the Rule V draft.

  • I'm struggling to see the logic in Whitenack > Struck right now. I understand Whitenack has more upside, but he didn't look all that impressive coming off of TJ and could've been left off the roster much like Rhee was last year. Meanwhile Struck could be our back-end depth this year as well as fit in as a middle relief for whichever team takes him.

    I'm guessing his performance down in the AFL is the reason for the gamble. Much like Hatley last year I guess.

  • In reply to Furiousjeff:

    I really talked up Struck elsewhere last year, but his ceiling as a starter is limited. He's a 4/5 starter. Whitenack has a bit more mid-rotation ceiling, was in his first year off TJ, and the velocity reports during the season were positive enough to think that the jump in velocity that he saw in the winter of 2010/2011 might be there as he gets back to FS. Whitenack will start in AA, so he'll still be rotation depth.

    It's easy to forget, but the rumors in 2011 were that Whitenack might've been called up for a look in the bigs

  • In reply to toonsterwu:

    Yeah I definitely thought Whitenack had more upside. Just thought he'd be a safer pick to slide through the cracks given his unimpressive performance post TJ. But with mid-rotation upside, I guess you gamble with that. And yeah like you said Struck is what he is a 4/5.

  • In reply to Furiousjeff:

    The back end depth is already pretty deep, with Cabrera, Rusin, Raley, Vizcaino already on the 40 man roster.

  • In reply to Furiousjeff:

    I have to imagine reports on Whitenack are good as far as velo, command this offseason.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I'm hoping its that and not that the Cubs have so few decent pitching prospects that they felt they needed to hang onto to him on the outside chance he might return to form.

  • As for the Rule 5 decisions, I'm not that surprised that Struck was left off. I really was intrigued with him last year, as he rocketed up the ladder, was young, and had some life on the FB, but his ceiling is really that of an end of the rotation starter, and it's debatable if he's anything more than a middle reliever in the pen.

    I rather like keeping Whitenack. It was his first year off TJ, and the velocity reports were solid. The other three weren't surprises.

    I'm really hoping a couple of the arms make it through Rule 5. We have a lot of guys that fit the profile of the types of guys that can get taken in Rule 5 (upper level power arms, some upper level lefties, a couple raw upside arms).

  • In reply to toonsterwu:

    We're also forgetting the other factor when it comes to whom gets protected and who doesn't, and that is whether Stuck is a) ready to help a rotation/bullpen and/or b) is his upside worth holding up a 25 man roster spot for some team.

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    Someone will pick up Nick Struck. Wow, this is puzzling

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    In reply to Jim Odirakallumkal:

    Maybe Jed and Theo are going with the higher ceiling in Whitenack. All I can think of.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    That is undoubtedly the case, in my opinion

  • In reply to Jim Odirakallumkal:

    It's puzzling and it isn't. Truth to be told, of the names left on the board, Struck isn't really at the top of my list of guys that I hope make it through. That said, he is a type of guy that could be taken in the Rule 5, an upper level arm that a team could stash as a middle reliever.

    That said, like the Rhee decision last year, my hunch is that they simply didn't think Struck was going to offer significant rotation help next year, and how much value he had in the pen was debatable.

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    In reply to Jim Odirakallumkal:

    I doubt it actually....what probably sealed Struck's fate was the fact that he didn't perform very well out of the bullpen in the AFL. If he can't perform well in the bullpen in that league, stands to reason he will struggle in the majors right now. Why would a team spend a 25-man spot for a guy who has a limited ceiling?

  • There has never seemed to be any indication that the front office even thought Nick Struck was a possible future asset. I'd barely know who he is if it weren't for this site. I think it's evidenced by the fact that he was not chosen as minor league pitcher of the year. He was definitely deserving.

  • In reply to elusivekarp:

    Um what? Unless I'm mistaken, Struck was chosen as the Cubs minor league pitcher of the year.

  • In reply to elusivekarp:

    They talked him up during the AZ fall league, saying he's definitly an MLB starter. My guess now is that they meant 5th starter.

  • They can't be finished with the roster at 40, right? Clevenger's kind of glaring though it is nice to have a 3rd catcher in Iowa with some major league experience. Really like the look of Loux btw.

  • In reply to Carne Harris:

    I still don't see why so many Cubs fans want to move Clevenger off. We need an upper level catcher. We need a 3rd catcher on the 40. The chances of finding better seem debatable (although Adam Moore still holds some intrigue for me).

  • In reply to toonsterwu:

    I was a big fan of his first half, but his second half struggles mean they've figured him out a bit and so far he's not shown the ability to adapt. Plus teams run at will on him - 45/52. Not what I want out of my 3rd catcher.

  • In reply to Carne Harris:

    I get that, and there's no guarantee he's around, but I'm not sure what's out there that I would say is definitely better than Clevenger, particularly if they viewed Clevenger as a young guy still learning as a catcher. With Navarro in place, Clevenger could go to AAA to learn. He'll never be an elite run-stopper, for lack of a better term right now, but he's steady behind the plate, and IIRC, the reports were positive last year on how he interacted with pitchers. I just don't see it as a big deal, but that's me.

  • In reply to Carne Harris:

    Plus Clevenger has options and gives them flexibility in the event of an injury.

  • I don't care what moves they make, as long as the roster is 39
    by the deadline. Can't pass up the 2nd pick in the Rule V draft.

  • Could Struck be the PTBNL btw? Don't know the relative values of Loux and Brigham or whether this would balance it out.

  • In reply to Carne Harris:

    I believe we are receiving the PTBNL.

  • In reply to Clark n Addison:

    Better and better.

  • In reply to Carne Harris:

    My understanding is that the PTBNL is coming to the Cubs.

  • In reply to Carne Harris:

    Sorry, it's the other way around, Apparently I couldn't read my own retweet !! Cubs getting PTBNL.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Come on, John. Pull yourself together, man!!

  • There is still time to make trades or release a player and protect another. Not sure why everyone is thinking this is final.

  • In reply to Clark n Addison:

    Isn't today the deadline for protecting players from the rule 5 draft?

  • In reply to Quedub:

    Midnight Eastern. Teams could still be trying to make a trade before making final decisions.

  • In reply to Clark n Addison:

    Trades still possible, but Cubs have shown their priorities here. Deal is by no means guaranteed so they have to be prepared to lose Struck if nothing happens.

    Other possibility is that they'll wait to make a deal with Coleman (or anyone for that matter), but with Coleman they can always release him later if no trades happen.

    Think one move is coming either way to open up spot to select player in Rule 5

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    They also will have to open up spots when they sign another SP, an OF and they still need another utility infielder. So that is still 4 more spots to clear.

    I don't get why they don't cut Coleman and add Struck. Similar players, one is younger would have all their options left.

  • I hope Theo/Jed will be on the phones until the deadline. Many teams
    have prospects they don't want to just give away, but they have no
    room to protect them. Let's just hope there is still more to come.

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    Indeed, I'm still wanting that young player blockbuster Levine alluded to. Though there's no reason something like that couldn't happen later...

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    I think they'll keep working, I believe they'll open up one more spot.

  • Looks there was no trade value for LaHair.

    When was the last time an All Star player went to play in Japan the next season?

  • In reply to CubsTalk:

    I have to think the Cubs were trying hard to deal him but you're right, probably no takers.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to John Arguello:

    That surprised me too. I thought he had some value to an AL team, particularly since he was cost controlled.

  • I'm surprised there isn't more chatter about LeHair getting DFAed. I wish him luck and hope that he finds a home as someone's DH/1B or over in Japan. I give him a lot of credit for his perseverance through the years.

  • In reply to Pura Vida:

    Me too. I hope he gets some financial security playing in Japan.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Those million dollar contracts are not great over in Japan......dealing with international taxes, family relocation, and Japan has a high living costs.......but it is better than playing in the Mexican League.

  • In reply to CubsTalk:

    Oh yeah. Better there than any league except for MLB.

  • Someone is going tonight....Lake or Stewart.......has to be Stewart....Lake is leading the league in hitting in Winter Ball.

  • In reply to CubsTalk:

    If they let Stewart go, they have to be real comfortable on finding a replacement to be usable next year. There really isn't an internal option, with Vitters slated for AAA, and Valbuena better off in a utility role.

    I could see them letting Stewart go, but 3rd base is a tough position to fill these days. It wouldn't surprise me in the least if they simply held him for another year and waited on guys to develop.

  • These Cubs are exposed to the Rule 5 draft.

    Jeffry Antigua, Frank Batista, Jason Berken, Justin Bour, Michael Brenly, Michael Burgess, Kyler Burke, David Cales, Esmailin Caridad, Marcelo Carreno, Matt Cerda, Hunter Cervenka, Evan Crawford, Willengton Cruz, Michael de la Cruz, Antonio Encarnacion, Carlos Figueroa, Eduardo Figueroa, Marcus Hatley, Ty’Relle Harris, Jay Jackson, Alvido Jimenez, Austin Kirk, Luis Liria, Jeff Lorick, Marcos Mateo, Edwin Maysonet, Pedro Medina, Jose Montesino, A.J. Morris, Jonathon Mota, Felix Pena, Starling Peralta, Nelson Perez, Dae-Eun Rhee, Greg Rohan, Jose Rosario, Zac Rosscup, Julio Sanchez, Brian Schlitter, Ryan Searle, Matt Spencer, Nick Struck, Larry Suarez, Francisco Turbi, Brett Wallach, Casey Weathers, Ty Wright.

    Who are the ones who might be picked?

  • In reply to CubsTalk:

    The only guys I'd gamble on here are Struck and Hatley. Everybody else isn't ready and/or just doesn't have enough upside to make carrying on the roster worth it.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Odd, thought I had responded.

    I'd argue that Starling Peralta has enough upside to justify a team "Lendy Castillo'ing" him (and he arguably has far higher upside than Lendy did when he was picked). Doesn't mean he will, but that's the guy that I am hoping, moreso than anyone else, makes it through.

    As for guys that might be picked, I think a few other guys could be considered. Beyond Struck/Hatley, I'd offer up Jay Jackson (had a decent run in Iowa out of the pen around late summer), Zac Rosscup, Marcos Mateo, and maybe Kyler Burke. It wouldn't surprise me if no one was picked, and it wouldn't surprise me if 3-4 guys were picked.

  • Ben Badler just said he prefers Loux over Brigham, so looks like a nice deal for the Cubs. Rangers must simply prefer Brigham and didn't like letting him go.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Just saw this tweet:

    Jeff Wilson: The Brigham-Loux deal comes about as the #Rangers and Cubs rework the Soto deal because of a Brigham injury.

    https://twitter.com/JeffWilson_FWST/status/271045999487758337

    Extremely classy by the Rangers. Hope we'd react the same way if the tables were turned.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Mike Moody:

    We said no to the Red Sox when they complained about Chris Carpenter, but then again, I think they were greedy in the first place.

    This trade made zero sense for the Rangers John until you mentioned that; it might be some sort of make-up to avoid a complaint from the Cubs. That makes more sense. Because outside of that, I can't figure out why the Rangers would do this.

    We'll take it, but figured there had to be another reason

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Zonk:

    From Carrie Muskat's piece on cubs.com:

    "When they made the trade in July, the Cubs and Rangers had agreed to revisit the deal at the end of the season."

    I suppose the Cubs were already concerned with Brigham's health back then.

  • In reply to João Lucas:

    That makes sense. Muito obrigado for finding that Joao :)

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to John Arguello:

    Haha! You're very welcome, John. (And I realize now I should've said "concerned about"... damn prepositions.)

  • It's nice to see that Loux stayed relatively healthy the last two seasons given what happened with the D-Backs. But, as a 23 year old in AA, his numbers dropped off noticeably from the year before. In High-A, he had the numbers I always look for. Less hits than innings pitched, better than 3-to-1 K/BB ratio and more than a K per inning. But all of those numbers declined precipitously last year.

    I hope this isn't true, but perhaps Brigham was one of many hard throwing relief prospects and the FO felt they needed starters more even if Loux is less talented. One thing Loux is better at is throwing strikes and that fits the FO's profile.

  • In reply to Quedub:

    Actually, after a double check, only Loux's K/9 had a big drop off from High-A and that happened in a notoriously hitter's league.

    The big if with Loux is health. He started 21 and 25 games going from 100 innings to 127 last season. That's not bad.

  • I hope in the future they can change the rules for who goes on the
    40-man roster. I don't know if its good or bad the way it is. I know
    its bad for each team trying to protect their own prospects.

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    They've made it more lenient. It used to be a lot tougher, which is why sometimes teams would lose some pretty good prospects (aka George Bell)

  • Going to be many agents around the winter meetings looking to get contracts for their clients who just got released......maybe Theo can pick up a vet at a cheap price.

  • I just saw someone opine that Struck doesn't have enough time under contract to be picked up in a Rule 5 situation; meaning that the Cubs didn't have to add him to the 40 to protect him. Is this true?

  • In reply to StillMissKennyHubbs:

    I was going off of AZ Phil's list and he's pretty dependable, but that could be correct. Struck signed late and didn't start until 2010, so maybe he is safe.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    If that's so, there has been much ado about nothing, with all the angst about leaving him unprotected.
    I like the pickup of Loux too.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    It'd be odd if it were true. I wouldn't mind it, but it'd be odd because a lot of reputable people have been noting that Struck was the surprise guy left exposed.

  • In reply to toonsterwu:

    I threw it out there on Twitter. I'd forgotten that he held out for a while. He was an overslot guy and may not have signed until 2010.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Odd, I thought I responded, but it reset. Anyhow, IIRC, Struck signed late summer his draft year, but it just wasn't announced.

    That said, Bruce Miles. on twitter, noted how Struck was unprotected, implying that he needed to be protected.

  • In reply to toonsterwu:

    Miles is one of the smarter reporters, so until I hear otherwise, I'll stick to what he says. Have asked around on my end and if I find out anything definitive, I'll certainly post it.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Just going by what this commenter said: To be eligible for Rule 5, you must have four years of minor league service time, and Struck has three. And four FULL years after signing. Struck has 3 1/2.
    You know the rules better than I do, but maybe he's okay as is.

  • In reply to StillMissKennyHubbs:

    Per Fangraphs,

    "...they must have signed at age 18 or 19 and spent 5 or 4 years respectively in the organization (essentially, they must be 22 years old and not protected)." If Struck signed in 2010, then he didn't need to be protected.

  • According to the Collective Bargaining Agreement, if you are signed as an 18 year old, you can be in organization for 5 years before having to be added to 40 man roster. If player was 19 or older when signed, they can be in organization for 4 years before having to be added to 40 man roster to be protected from rule 5 draft. My source is Wikepedia

  • In reply to Craig:

    That's similar to what Fangraphs has. Now my question is how many years was Struck in the organization. He has only played for 3, but when did he officially become a member.

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