Of course, I had to take care of some errands this morning I come back and the Cubs have made a trade. It isn't a huge one but it's one that gives the Cubs a better fit in the OF.
The Cubs exchanged 30 year outfielder Brian Bogusevic for 32 year old OF'er Justin Ruggiano.
At first glance it seems somewhat even with Bogusevic putting up slightly better numbers at a younger age, so why do it? The answer is simple, Ruggiano hits from the right side. The Cubs are likely to have Ryan Sweeney and Nate Schierholtz in their starting outfield and it appears that Ruggiano would platoon with one of them.
Another factor is that Ruggiano can play CF if needed, though he is much better suited in the corners. Still, his career UZR/150 in CF is right around average at -1.7.
As far as what he can do at the plate, Ruggiano hit .222/.298/.396 last year with 18 HRs and 15 SBs. He has an above average walk rate of 8.7%, which is a skill the Cubs are always looking to add. In 2012, Ruggiano was even better, hitting .313/.374/.535 with 13 HRs and 14 SBs.
The real Ruggiano, however, is somewhere in between as the two seasons showed a wide fluctuation in BABIP from 2012 to 2013. In fact, it was over a 150 point swing. If Ruggiano hits a league average BABIP of .300, which is very realistic considering his good speed, we can expect him to hit around .250 with a .320-is OBP and double digit HRs and SBs.
Ruggiano was still very good vs. LHP last year, hitting .248/.329/.504 vs. LHP, an OPS of .834 -- and this was in on off-year. So even if we would expect him to hit .250 with about 15 HRs overall, we should expect him to be a more efficient hitter vs. LHP.
Both Bogusevic and Ruggiano are not core-type players but they're the kind of players I talked about in my preview - the kind that add wins at the margins, it's just that Ruggiano is a better fit for the Cubs as their roster is currently constructed. For that reason, I really like this move. The Cubs are losing a good ballplayer in Bogusevic, but they're getting a player that fits the puzzle better and should help make the Cubs a better teams vs. LHP.
I think this could be a heck of a RF platoon with Nate Schierholtz if the Cubs decide to go in that direction. We may see 30+ HRs with some solid OBP numbers when we combine their numbers.
Rule 5 Draft
In other, somewhat good news, the Cubs lost only Marcos Mateo in the MLB Rule 5 Draft. Mateo has great stuff but has been injured for much of his short career. He can hit the high 90s and has an excellent slider, but he is already 29. The Cubs had no room and when he had an excellent winter, it appears the Cubs weren't able to sneak him by. He's MLB ready so I think we can consider him gone. He was selected by the Diamondbacks, making it the 2nd straight year the D'Backs took a Cubs pitcher.
In the minor league phase, the Cubs lost 1B Justin Bour to the Marlins, pitcher A.J. Morris to Pittsburgh, and OF Julio Borbon to the Orioles. Neither figured in the Cubs long term plans.
The Cubs did pick up catcher Charlie Cutler from the Pirates AA affiliate Altoona, though he was originally drafted by the Cardinals. Cutler has backup potential. He has a good eye at the plate and makes solid contact. In fact, his walk rate (13%) is higher than his strikeout rate (12.3%) last season. He hit .298/.397/.420 overall.
Cutler will likely compete for a backup spot but probably winds up in AAA as catching depth along with Eli Whiteside, who was acquired on a minor league deal. Whiteside has some MLB experience.
In case you're wondering, the Phillies took RHP Kevin Munson with the pick they were awarded in their grievance against the Cubs.
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