3 way deal has short and long term implications for Cubs

3 way deal has short and long term implications for Cubs
Marco Hernandez and Arismendy Alcantara

As you have already heard, the Indians, Diamondbacks, and Reds just pulled off a 3 way deal....

  • To Reds: RF Shin-Soo Choo; IF Jason Donald
  • To D'Backs: SS Didi Gregorius; LHP Tony Sipp; 1B Lars Anderson
  • To Indians: OF Drew Stubbs; RHPs Trevor Bauer ; Matt Albers; Bryan Shaw

The principles here are Choo, Gregorius, and Bauer.

My first thought was how low Bauer's stock has fallen.  This was the #3 pick in a loaded 2011 draft and the #3 prospect overall.  He rocketed through the Diamondbacks system all the way to the majors by his first full year as a pro.

But questions about his command and coachability soon surfaced and the Diamondbacks surprised teams by suggesting he'd be available in the right deal.  I certainly didn't think the right deal was a good, but not great SS prospect.  Which brings me to my next thought.

True shortstops are rare in this game and Gregorius has the arm and range to play the position, though there are some questions about his hands.  As a hitter, he's aggressive and doesn't have a whole lot of power -- present or potential.

Yes, the Diamondbacks are loaded with pitchers and were dealing from depth, but the fact remains that, in a vacuum, Bauer is the better prospect.  Despite the warts, he has ace potential. Gregorius, meanwhile, would do well if he became an average MLB SS.

Then again, it isn't out of the question that Bauer's command issues force him to the bullpen -- perhaps something the D'Backs have considered.  If he ends up in the pen, then the deal suddenly looks a lot better for AZ.

Adding to the idea of the value of a young, cost-controlled SS is the idea that the D'Backs were willing to make Justin Upton available for either Elvis Andrus or Jurickson Profar, but Texas would not part with either -- and most experts didn't blame them.  The Braves also refused to part with their young SS Andrelton Simmons.

So how does all this affect the Cubs?  There is at least one long term and one short term implication that came to mind.

  1. This is more of a long term issue but the Cubs have 5 potential true shortstops in their minor league system: Starlin Castro, Javier Baez, Arismendy Alcantara, Marco Hernandez, and Carlos Penalver.  Only Castro has played in the majors and none of the others have even had a full season at advanced A ball.  It's almost impossible to get equal value for Castro and the Cubs will almost certainly hold on to Baez as well, but if one of the other shortstops develop, the Cubs could have themselves a big trade chip in a year or two.  You can never have too many shortstops.  They have value either on the market and/or because they are often able to switch to just about any other position on the field defensively.
  2. Two more OF'ers, Justin Upton and Shin-Soo Choo, are off the market.  It could have a domino effect.  This makes it more likely that the Rangers will try to re-sign Josh Hamilton, thus keeping him away from the Phillies.  We know that the Phillies are looking for an OF'er who can also bat in the middle of the lineup.  It would leave them with Cody Ross as a FA, who is getting interest from several teams.  If Ross signs elsewhere, the Phillies may turn to Soriano to fill that need.  And with the market dwindling, other teams could turn to Soriano as well as RH power source.

We're starting to see a market develop here and the Cubs should be watching with great interest. They could stand to benefit both now and over the next couple of years.

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  • Hard to believe that's the best the DBacks could have gotten for Bauer. It just looks like an out and out panic sell. If you don't like his preparation and don't want to deal with him, fine, but flipping him for 60 cents on the dollar makes no sense.

  • In reply to TulaneCubs:

    Agreed but Towers likes Gregorius more than I and some others do. Said he reminds him of a young Derek Jeter. I'm not going to argue with a great evaluator like Towers, so I hope he's right.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    That does explain the trade. If Towers is right, this could be a very good trade. (How many pitchers, really, would you not trade for a 22-year-old Derek Jeter?)

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    It tells me he has some confidence in that bat, which is a big difference when evaluating Gregorius. He has the potential to be a plus defensive SS, which in itself has value, but if he can hit too -- even if it's not as well as Jeter -- then you can justify that deal even if Bauer ends up being something less than a frontline starter. And it's a win if Bauer ends up a washout or in the pen.

  • Put another way, if Towers calls the Cubs and offers Bauer for Baez, Theo may not take it immediately... but I don't think he's hanging up immediately either. And this is the package they got?

  • In reply to TulaneCubs:

    I think at this point Cubs couldn't take that deal, strange as it may sound for a team that has a SS and needs pitching.

  • The return to the DBacks was let's call it light. The only team that get an impact player was the DBacks. It was s very surprising trade in my eyes.

  • In reply to KGallo:

    Wait, I think you mean the Indians got the impact player (Bauer)?

    I think if Gregorius turns into a a solid everyday SS then it's not a bad return for them depending on how Bauer turns out.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Let me rephrase that. Potential impact players.

  • In reply to KGallo:

    Still not sure what you meant here. You have a typo up there, said "return to D'Backs light" and "the only team to get an impact player are the D'Backs".

    I'm guessing you either really like Bauer or Gregorius -- but knowing how much you favor pitching, I'm guessing you like Bauer here and that their is a type in the latter statement somewhere.

  • Don't sleep on Swisher to the Phillies either. As far as Bauer the stock slip is somewhat of a shock but after all baseball is a lot like any other job, unfortunately. Sometimes young guys that you "hire" turn out to be punk-ass kids that nobody likes...I think that was the case here. I've also heard that to be a reason Upton keeps getting shopped. Front offices rarely ever come out with that stuff because its bad for business to bash a player's character publicly. Just like they don't bash players' wives either. They just say stuff like, "He didn't want to play in cold weather..."

  • In reply to Ben20:

    That's true. They now will have serious competition from the Indians, who have to fill Choo's spot. Braves still looking for a bat as well. I'll certainly be watching to see how it all shakes out.

    As for Bauer, they may be convinced he cannot succeed with his current approach. His command is all over the place right now and he's relying on pure stuff. If he doesn't improve that, can't rule out him being a bullpen guy.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Should also add that Mariners, Red Sox in the mix for OF'ers

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Soriano said he won't go the the west coast though didn't he?

  • In reply to KGallo:

    I'm talking about teams going after FA ouftielders. Don't think Sori winds up in Sea or Bos, so would like to see Hamilton and Swisher sign there.

  • In reply to KGallo:

    I wonder if he'd go to Texas?

  • What I heard about Bauer is that Gibson and his coaches thought the kid was kind of a nut to be blunt. He kept wanting to do this hour and a half warm up routine before every start. And they would tell him to work down in the zone, and he would not listen. Thought he could blow the ball past hitters. And I think what did it for Arizona was his velocity at times was dropping to 90-91 mph in some of his starts. This a kid who was throwin upper 90's in college. You don't dump a kid you picked with the third pick in the draft 1 and half years ago, without there being some big time issues.

  • Did notice that he averaged 92 mph. Not bad, but that's not even at Shark or Garza level. We could be saying a couple of years from now that AZ sold high on Bauer.

  • I don't know much about Choo, but his .381 career OBP makes me wonder if he'll be on our radar when he's a free agent next year.

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    In reply to Carne Harris:

    The only thing that makes me think they wouldn't be interested in Choo would be his age. He'll be on the wrong side of 30 by then, and the Cubs will be at a different point in their development. For what he might command in terms of years, they might not want to go that far out on a player over 30.

  • In reply to Carne Harris:

    In addition to age, he's a Boras client and is said to be asking for ridiculous money. Indians had no chance to re-sign him, so a good deal getting rid of him and getting Bauer in return.

    I don't know if it's worth it for the Cubs paying big for a good, but not great player. Will depend on how close the Cubs are and if Choo/Boras become more reasonable.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    That's what I was worried about. I was hoping he might not be cost prohibitive with him making under 5mil this year, but having Boras as an agent doesn't bode well.

  • Good article, right on about both points... And the 2nd one pretty much matches what I mentioned the other day about the Cubs needing other teams to get interested in Soriano to create a market for him and raise his value... I think the FO is doing a good job by holding onto him until most of these OF's are off the market.

    If other teams get interested, that might force the Phillies to up their offer and we could not only get Domonic Brown, but also a prospect at least like Jonathan Pettibone... And who knows, going by all these crazy trades recently, the Phillies might even spit Jesse Biddle if we add another piece to sweeten the pot.

    It's also going to be interesting to see what other teams offer the Cubs for Soriano and/or Marmol and make it a bidding war... The only thing I fear is that it's going to be hard to replace Soriano's power, therefore making the 2013 season much harder to watch... But I believe Soriano's value is as high as it will be for the rest of his career, so if we get a good deal we should strike.

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    In reply to Caps:

    I'd be thrilled for the Cubs to be able to move Soriano and cash for Domonic Brown and another prospect but i'd be thrilled with just Brown for Alfonso and realistically at this point in time that deal would be great and beneficial for both teams it seems like a no brainer!!!

  • In reply to Luigi Ziccarelli:

    Yeah, Domonic Brown has his risks, but at least by trading Soriano for him, you're turning a short term asset into a long term one, besides, if we miss that opportunity, there's always the risk that Soriano's bat slows down even more or gets injured and then we're really stuck with him.

  • In reply to Caps:

    Other teams see that risk as well. At the age of 37 there's only one way Soriano's skills can go.

  • Exactamundo...we can't forget that other teams are pretty smart too. I think even if you're optimistic on Sori, you hope to get one more big year out of him.

    That said, he does keep himself in phenomenal shape, so maybe he'll age well -- but, those knees may have something to say about that too.

  • In reply to Caps:

    That's really well said, Caps. I think If I were Ruben Amaro I'd inquire on Garza's availability as well. Since we're (PHI) in win-now mode anyway. Garza in the 4 spot would be a good way to get back to the playoffs. Sprinkle in a little Soriano...oh yeah. Maybe offer Nick Swisher a four year deal. Little bit of Ryan Howard insurance too. I'd probably be willing to part with Biddle/Brown or Brown/Colvin/Pettibone or something like that for two more playoff runs. That's what I would do if I were Ruben Amaro. But as myself, I'd be disappointed if that happened. I think Garza's a core guy and even though I know I'm in the minority on this, I'd hate to see Soriano get traded.

  • In reply to Caps:

    It seems the Cubs opportunities will come later.this offseason when the FAs are signed and there's a couple of teams on the outside looking in. Right now I'm rooting for Ross, Swisher, and Hamilton to sign so that the market clears up.

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    Dominic Brown my eye.

    Two top-five prospects have been moved this week for pennies.

    The Mariners are looking for OFs. As long as the frenzy is on, let's see if they won't part with Taijuan Walker for Sori' or even better, just offer DeJesus straight up.

    I'm kidding of course, but maybe still we should be pressing as long as win-now teams are throwing away blue-chip prospects.

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    In reply to Giffmo:

    Yeah, it's real frustrating seeing those trades happen and us unable to unload any of our veterans.

  • In reply to Giffmo:

    Haha. For a second I thought you were getting a little carried away, but agree that price to win now increasing and maybe Cubs should up the ante.

  • i think the cubs should wait out the market and hope that the phillies are left standing with nothing. then the cubs should try to deal soriano and cash plus marmol and cash for domonic brown and a pitching prospect or catching prospect sebastian valle.

  • In reply to jshmoran:

    That's probably what will happen. I don't think they have much choice right now to be honest with you. Soriano isn't on the top of anyone's list and I can't say I don't blame teams for looking for a younger player, especially one where they don't have to give up a young player. Maybe once the smoke has cleared the Cubs will have a clear picture of the market and will be able to get something back of value.

  • John,
    I can't see the Cubs trading Sori until the trade deadline. With most other organizations outfields set, Sori using his NTC to stay in Chicago (unless he gets traded closer to his ranch), and being the only established power hitter in the Cubs lineup it would behoove the Cubs to wait until the deadline unless they get offered a very high ceiling prospect like Olt (that isn't going to happen).

    Also, what do you think of JH and Larry R. in NY and with the Yankees pen not in the best of shape but wanting nothing to do with Marmol?

  • In reply to Rock:

    The Cubs may be better off waiting but they have to hope that Soriano doesn't start to regress from last year's big season. I think they can probably get more for him now. For the most part, teams tend to get less at the trade deadline than before the season.

    I think the Marmol decision probably has more to do with Cashman than Hendry, but it does seem odd that the ex-Cubs wouldn't be pushing for him.

  • The last few days, most Cubs Den commenters have been, naturally, focused on the near-term possibility of unloading Sori. But I think John's longer-term point about our plethora of shortstop prospects merits additional attention. It's a great point. Imagine if Baez emerges in 2 years (likely at 3rd base) AND one of the others is knocking on the door or at least playing well at AAA. Having a shortstop prospect to parlay into key assets could really jumpstart taking that 2014 young core from competitive to dangerous. And imagine if 2 of those other shortstop prospects emerge as legitimate high minor league prospects...

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    In reply to TokyoCraig:

    I agree. The potential to have a surplus of a commodity that is in short supply could have the Cubs sitting in the catbirds seat when it comes to trading.

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    In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    Not only looking at it in terms of a deal, if Watkins and Torreyes don't pan out, it might not be a stretch to move one of those guys over to 2b either.In a perfect world Watkins and Torreyes turn out to be incredible and that would be another good problem to have

  • In reply to TokyoCraig:

    That's the part I'm really excited about, even if it's longer term. There's no question to me that anyone of those three guys can be plus defensive shortstops and if any one of them shows something with the bat -- and Hernandez and Alcantara already show that potential, it's potentially a huge asset once they become MLB ready.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I read that the Mariners are looking for SS backup/future help. Gutierrez or some young pitching for one of our SS prospects?

  • In reply to StillMissKennyHubbs:

    I think those guys are too young and too far away to have any significant value right now. As we've seen with Gregorius, value increases greatly with proximity to majors. No need to trade them right now when value could go up a lot in the future. Right now that's far more enticing than losing what little value they have right now.

  • The time to trade Soriano is now , not later. Who knows if Soriano has the same good year next year that he had last season? Your taking a risk thinking you can get more for Soriano by the trade deadline next year. If he gets hurt or is having a bad year, he's worth nothing. Get what you can for him and trade him now.

  • In reply to Steve Flores:

    Exactly. Also, note that the Cubs are approaching teams about trading Soriano, teams aren't approaching the Cubs. The interest in Soriano is minimal.

  • It's great to play arm chair GM but who is going to replace 30 HR's this year? The only person on the Cubs who have hit even 20 in a season had wrist sugery this year and we have seen what happens to most who have wrist or hand injuries, the following seasons power numbers are down. I never thought I would say this but Sori brings more to the Cubs today (leadership, power, experiance, work ethic) than a marginal prospect might bring several years from now.

    I thought I would never say this either but I don't envy Cranes job trying to market this 100 loss team wih down attendance, in a iconic field that is dire need of a major renovations.

  • In reply to Rock:

    You may want to ask the Cubs' GM that. He's offering to trade away Soriano and his HRs, teams aren't trying to trade for him.

  • Exactly, it's hard enough getting any interest now .

  • In reply to Steve Flores:

    Cubs are trying but it takes two to tango. Cubs may have to wait until market shrinks.

  • Can't Junior Lake also be classified as an asset with the other shortstops? I know he's getting lots of looks at other positions in Winter Ball but I thought his original position was SS. Could add him to this mix as well.

  • In reply to BobMiller146:

    Lake's original position is SS but I don't think there's a scout out there who thinks he's a MLB SS right now. There were doubts he'd stay there even when he was signed as 17 year old. He's getting big and while there are big SSs out there, you have to have great instincts to make up for that loss in quickness. Lake does not possess those kinds of instincts. In my opinion, his best position may end up being CF or RF.

  • What about Barney, I thought I've heard talk that he would be considered at least an average MLB shortstop defensively? If that is true, Barney for Bauer could have been a win for both sides, or Barney could still be a chip in the same vein as the others?

  • In reply to Abe Froman:

    There's always been mixed opinion on whether he's a big league SS. Personally I don't think he has the arm or athleticism to play there full time. With him not seeing significant action there in two years, those doubts have only increased.

    Gregorius is a true SS with the athleticism and great arm to make all the players. And while he's not a great hitter at this point, there is the feeling there is at least a little offensive upside there. That is not the case with Barney.

  • The Cubs will be lucky if they are able to get a good player for Soriano. He is 37 and has an injury history not to mention a questionable reputation. In addition, he likes playing for the Cubs and has no trade rights. Fans may as well embrace because he is ours.

  • Didn't the Indians get Drew Stubbs as well?

  • In reply to Craig:

    Yes. That part was unclear when I wrote the piece. Thanks for reminding me and I'll update.

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    It occurs to me, the problems we're having moving Soriano and Marmol, combined with the amazing deals the Indians and Rays have managed to pull off, is an indicator of just how barren the cupboard was when Theo took over. An injury to one guy (Garza) shouldn't completely destroy your ability to move veterans for younger players.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    That's a good point. I'm sure Theo could have done pretty well with a guy like Choo as trade bait.

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    This Bauer/Choo/Gregorius trade is a joke for the D'Backs. The Jeter comparisons are laughable. Gregorius' negatives far outweigh anything good that he will be able to do. I know he's young -- but you don't trade a top-10 prospect for Augie Ojeda, you know?

    Gregorius has a career .699 OPS in over 440 minor league games to go along w/ OK defensive metrics. He's barely better than Castro @ SS w/ out the lighting bolt arm (Gregorius has a good arm though), questionable hands -- not an elite defender...and he'll need to be one to carry his anemic bat. Just super questionable move on the D'Backs part. At least the other teams got some value.

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    In reply to Chris Lattier:

    Plus...the other garbage they got in the deal...Lars Anderson. They might as well have traded for Micah Hoffpaiur. Tony Sipp is not a difference maker -- but atleast he doesn't bring negative value.

    Anyways, can you tell that I think this is a major head scratcher?

  • In reply to Chris Lattier:

    I wouldn't say he's Augie Ojeda either. If nothing else, he's a better defender and a true SS, which in itself is rare -- and he does have offensive upside, though I agree that Derek Jeter is a stretch. If there's a young Derek Jeter type SS out there right now, he plays in Chicago -- and even that's a stretch.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    If we're talking tools -- he might play center field for Boise, but with a better defensive tool and less speed.

  • It seems that with these new TV deals flooding teams with mega amounts of cash, the market will shortly catch up and players' salaries will skyrocket yet again. I think smaller market teams realize this and know they won't be able to compete in a few years without a salary cap. Some smaller market teams that are contenders (especially with usual powerhouses like NY, Boston, etc not at the top of their games) and have a pitching surplus in their systems are willing to give up sooner on some pitching prospects in a trade, in order to fill position player holes. I hope the Cubs can benefit from this. But not sure we have MLB-ready players other teams want. And by the time our lower level position player prospects are ready in a few years, some smaller market teams' windows may have closed. Or this type of market may change by then. This by no means ruins our rebuild. Just may be bad timing for us to really cash in on what I percieve to be a market inefficiency. Either that or I'm completely off-base (pun intended). Lol.

  • In reply to Bill:

    Exhibit A why I think the new CBA is a joke. It forces teams to funnel money to places like the FA market, where small market teams are at a greater disadvantage.

    Selig can spin it how he wants, but new CBA mostly benefits guys like Reinsdorf, who didn't want to invest in amateur scouting. It doesn't benefit small market teams as a whole.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Exactly. Of course the new CBA is a joke. But remember MLB is a private club of teams/owners. It's not a free market system. Let's not sympathize with the small market teams too much. With MLB's revenue sharing program, unless a team is really operated poorly, in theory they should all make money. Really good money. It's a very collectivist/socialist setup. It's the fans of MLB as a whole who get the short end of the stick.

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    In reply to Bill:

    Not entirely fair. There are some small market teams (the Rays) that do everything right and are just desperate for some funds to keep their own players. I actually have no problem with doing things to make that possible. That really is working in the best interests of baseball.

    What I do find ironic is that Bud Selig protects his slimeball buddy Jeff Loria and lets Reinsdorf do whatever he wants to the draft, but when Frank McCourt was about to bungle the FOX sports deal, THAT is when we have to get involved and take the team away -- and now we have the Dodgers buying a team. I hope this sorts itself out by the Dodgers falling flat on their faces, but I'm pretty sure it won't.

    The problems really boil down to Selig. Baseball desperately needs an independent commissioner again, but I doubt they will ever get one.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    I hear what you're saying Mike. Selig is horrible for baseball from a fan's perspective. But there's a reason he's still commish, he's great for owners and players. They all make big money. As long as players are getting ever more money for playing ball, they won't be objecting too loudly to the CBA and what owners do.
    The Rays aren't hurting quite as bad you may think. They get over 30 million a year in revenue sharing, also 50 million a year starting 2014 due to national TV deals, they just signed one of their own players for 100 million dollars. They have money. Look for them to move to a different market soon if they can buy their way out of their stadium lease, in order to make even more.

  • Nothing like a good 3-way! Where are Theo and Jed if that's all it took to get a potential ace pitcher with 6 years of control. These are the kind of trades we are waiting for and been expecting from this front office. I hope something big happens soon involving the cubs.

  • In reply to Joshnk24:

    D'Backs wanted a young MLB ready SS and Castro too high a price. It's an asset the Cubs don't have...yet. Which is the main point of this article.

    If Alcantara and Hernandez continue to develop and reach the upper levels, the Cubs will be able to make this kind of trade.

  • John, I agree with you 100%. The fact that all teams can spend the same amount on the draft (or slotted amounts) and other international players only means that more money will go to free agents. The last CBA only helped the big market teams. Boras is belly aching about the money available for the draft, but he is getting more back for his free agent players and teams keeping their players. Selig is an idiot for letting this happen. The gap is only getting larger. As a fan of a big market team, this can only help us, but it is not good for baseball as a whole.

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    In reply to cubman:

    It does feel like Boras is not having the same level of success he has had historically. Some of his clients are overvaluing themselves. Obviously, we've seen his issues with Appel in the draft. I wonder if he's having trouble adapting to the new landscape and if GM's have figured out his schtick.

  • Drew Stubbs is a good example of what Brett Jackson will be like if he doesn't cure his strike out problem.

  • In reply to DaveP:

    Yes, that's the fear with Jackson. That his inability to hit will compromise the rest of his good skill st.

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    I saw on Fangraphs where Bill James is projecting Domonic Brown to average .274/.347/.445 over 592 PA to go with 32 D, 4 T, 17 HR, 80 R, 77 RBI and 5 NSB. I'd take that from a 25 yo left fielder.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    Agreed. If the Cubs can't trade Soriano for him, Id like to see the Cubs make a run at him anyway. Phils don't appear to have the inclination to play him regularly.

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