Okay, the first trade is in and it's a good one for Cubs fans if you're looking for young hard throwers with big upside. As expected, the Cubs dealt Scott Feldman and Steve Clevenger to the Baltimore Orioles for pitcher RHSP Jake Arrieta, who was once the Orioles #4 prospect and #67 in all of baseball, hard-throwing but wild RHRP Pedro Strop, and international pool money. According to the Orioles twitter feed, the Cubs get the Orioles 3rd and 4th slot values of the IFA money, which amounts to about $388K. The money could be enough for the Cubs to sign top IFA Eloy Jimenez.
Jake Arrieta has a very strong arm, averaging 94 mph this year according to Fangraphs, but the the 27 year old RHP has struggled since winning 10 games for Baltimore back in 2011. He also have a very hard slider which can touch 90 mph, a hard curve, and a change-up. He has the size and repertoire to be a starting pitcher and the Cubs will undoubtedly give him a shot to join the rotation this season.
As you might expect as to why a pitcher with such nasty stuff would struggle -- it's control. Arrieta has walked almost 6 and a half batters per 9 IP this year and is averaging 4 walks/9 IP for his career. It's obviously someone the Cubs think they can coach up and perhaps get themselves either a front end starter or a late inning relief arm.
Aside from the poor control, Arrieta has had some bad luck -- a .343 BABIP (average is .300) against and a strand rate of a 60% (average is 70%) have led to his ghastly 7.23 ERA, but his FIP of 4.62 is more indicative of his season and even that can be lowered substantially with better control.
Pedro Strop, 28, is averaging 96 mph out of the bullpen though he has also struggled mightily with control. Strop also throws a slider and a splitter. Strop has struggled this season with an equally ghastly 7.25 ERA but he also has had some bad luck with HRs (a 26.7% FB/HR Rate) and stranding runners (60%). He'll probably get a spot in the Cubs bullpen and a chance to work with pitching coach Chris Bosio.
It's apparent the Cubs think that these pitchers are a lot better than what they have shown and if they can pitch with better control, the Cubs may have themselves a power starter and bullpen arm for what amounts to 2 1/2 months of Scott Feldman.
The writing was on the wall for Clevenger who was asked to pack his bags and then sent to his hotel in Iowa. The backup catcher was due to come off the 60 day DL and would have required a roster spot. There were reports of some disagreements as to how to handle his injury and/or roster situation, but none of that has been confirmed to this point.
The trade also indicates that the Cubs are interested in competing sooner rather than later. Both pitchers are in their prime years and cost-controlled with the bonus of still having tremendous upside.
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