Traded Assets

There's no shortage of rumors surrounding the Cubs and who they will or won't trade with the deadline starting to loom. There's some trepidation among fans regarding the pending moves. It's understandable on a certain level; trading away assets like Jeff Samardzija seems like a capitulation for the short and long term in terms of competitiveness. That's not always the case, however. The Cubs have yet to see a winning season under Theo Epstein's regime but I do think their recent trade history warrants some faith. Let's examine some of the bigger moves.

The Matt Garza Deal

This is one of the bigger wins for the Cubs in my mind as they traded a stretch run of Garza starts for C.J. Edwards, Justin Grimm, Neil Ramirez and Mike Olt. Edwards and Olt have been a mixed bag so far and it's looking like Olt won't be a major contributor to the Cubs when they're ready to win but Neil Ramirez has been absolutely nasty this year and Edwards still has a chance to be a pretty good starter for the Cubs when they're ready to compete. Grimm has also made contributions in the Cubs pen all while Garza isn't in a Rangers uniform and he's been up and down in 2014.

Travis Wood for Sean Marshall

When the Cubs took a flier on Travis Wood for oddly beloved setup man Sean Marshall there was some consternation. Marshall has pitched 85 innings for the Reds while Wood has gone on to become a competent #3 starter who can handle the stick. This was a big win for the Cubs as they've perhaps found a starter whose long term contributions may still be felt when they feel they are ready to compete.

Rizzo For Cashner

The book is still out on this one as Cashner has the legit ace upside that the Cubs seem to covet but Rizzo has been especially good this year as he's boasting a .288/.404/.532 slash line. At worst this is a break even trade for the Cubs and there's a chance they finish ahead if the injury concerns that were present with Cashner while he was a Cub persist in San Diego. I really like Cash so I'm unwilling to call this an outright win but this was a very good trade for both clubs with no clear cut winner quite yet.

Feldman for Arrieta, Strop and international slot $

This is looking like a big win for the Cubs as they dealt Scott Feldman for Jake Arrieta and Pedro Strop + Slot money. That helped them last international signing period as they acquired some big name talent in Jen-Ho Tseng, Gleyber Torres, Eloy Jimenez and Jefferson Mejia. Tseng might end up as the Cubs best pitching prospect by year's end with Torres and Jimenez still refining things. Add in the resurgence by Arrieta and Strop's competence in the bullpen and this is easily the Cubs' best "winning" deal.

Alfonso Soriano for Corey Black

Probably not much of a win here, Soriano was good for the Yankees down the stretch and I do generally think they came out ahead on this deal. Soriano was a tough deal and you had to figure that the Cubs would have to pay him to play for someone else considering the contract. I have no major objections to the trade considering the context but there's no real way the Cubs can claim victory with this trade.

There are other, more minor deals. There's all the Hairston trades and the deal that brought Arodys Vizcaino in, but if we frame the context like this and evaluate the major trades they've made it's difficult to assess their history and panic about what the future holds for the Cubs when the trades start coming.

All told, they do a pretty good job here.

Filed under: Analysis


Leave a comment
  • Notable trades not included: Ian Stewart trade (L, but a minor one), Ryan Dempster (wash IMO).

  • In reply to Mauricio Rubio Jr.:

    Also the Maholm deal.

  • In reply to Pura Vida:

    I think the Maholm deal was a big win. We got Vizcaino who is an absolute stud. Hopefully he stays healthy and is our closer for a long time.

  • In reply to John57:

    To early to say a big win. Too many if involved.

  • In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    So are you saying it is just a little win?

  • In reply to John57:

    I am saying it is a push. Maholm threw well before getting hurt. Vizcaino has yet to throw a pitch in bigs and not sure if he will stay healthy too

  • In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    so far so good, at least. i have a high opinion of vizcaino.

  • In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    In the context of a bottom up rebuild, it's a win. Maholm's good pitching would have possibly pushed the Cubs lower in the draft and Vizcaino gives the Cubs an above average bullpen arm who is under team control until 2018 and is just 23 years old.

  • In reply to Mauricio Rubio Jr.:

    I think the Dempster trade still very much could be considered a win. Villanueva plays phenomenal defense and still could be a the starting 3B when the Cubs are competitive (if Kris Bryant moves to the OF). Hendricks could be a 4 or 5 start for the Cubs for years. Dempster had a 5.09 ERA (4.08 FIP) in 12 starts for the Rangers, which wouldn't have done the Cubs any good. He then left the Rangers to go post a 4.57 ERA (4.68 FIP) with the Red Sox. He is now out of baseball. In my mind, all he could have done for the Cubs would have helped them win a couple more games, and we lose out on Kris Bryant.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Mauricio Rubio Jr.:

    I can definitely agree with your Ian Stewart assessment, but I don't know that I would consider the Dempster trade as a "wash." The cubs got a solid pitching prospect in Kyle Hendricks AND a solid 3B prospect in Villanueva. I would call that a win, but a small one for now until we see what we get out of Hendricks/Villanueva.

    I don't know that I would call the Maholm-Vizcaino trade a very strong win. The Braves got a starting pitcher in exchange, roughly, for an injured reliever. The fact that the trade took place a couple of years ago and this is the first we have been able to see Viz pitch makes me leary to call this a "Win." I am tempted to call it a Wash or, maybe, a small L with the possibility that, if Viz can do things in the majors that it could turn into a win.

  • In reply to Mauricio Rubio Jr.:

    the dempster and soriano trades were both "meh" trades, in my opinion (the two of their sorts with big name cub transactions). but, that's what happens when you hand players contracts with no-trade clauses in them. (for the record, i really liked jim hendry and thought he did a good job with the task he was given.)

  • First time commenting ... love the blog. Just a correction on the Garza trade ... Grimm also came over in that deal.

  • fb_avatar

    Do you mean the Cubs can't claim victory in the Soriano trade NOW or ever?

    Because, outside of Hendricks, Black has been the best pitcher in the minors this year, IMO. I really liked the trade then and now.

  • In reply to Giffmo:

    I'm not the biggest Corey Black fan.

  • The Garza deal also brought us Grimm.

  • Mauricio, Justin Grimm also came over for Garza.

  • In reply to wastrel:

    Thanks updated

  • I don't know how the Dempster deal is a wash in all honesty. He threw a grand total of 69 innings for the Rangers with an ERA over 5 in those innings. That's good for a 0.3 WAR.

    I fully expect the combination of Hendricks and Villanueva to blow a 0.3 WAR out of the water over the coarse of twelve combined controlled years. They are both high level prospects likely to make the big leagues. Even if the worst case for both plays out and Hendricks is an average 5th starter for six cheap years and Villanueva never hits but sticks around as a plus glove utility man, they turn in at the very least ten times the value of a 0.3 WAR half season from Demp.

  • In reply to nmu’catsbball:

    I don't mean "high level" as in elite, just that they are in the upper levels of the minors. They're no A ball fliers, they both have skills that could play in the majors today so they are both very likely to spend time on a big league roster.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to nmu’catsbball:

    Point of fact:
    Hendricks first Cubs Affiliate: Daytona A+ ball
    Villianueva's first Cubs Affiliate: Daytona A+ ball

    They are exhibits A and A(prime) that taking a flier on a couple of A-ball players isn't just a capitulation.

  • In reply to nmu’catsbball:

    Agreed - but I don't see either of these guys not getting in at some level over their floors. Barring injury career derailment anyway.

    Hendricks - if he can maintain the command/control combo in the majors could easily be a core rotation guy for years to come. Maybe not an 'Ace' - but 6 years of somebody you can put out there for 6-7 innings of quality work 30+ starts a year. That's definately worth somehing.

    And the biggest problem with the Cubs - Villanueva interaction is that he's probably best at 3B, and that's where the Cubs appear to be deepest in their own farm system at present. He's more likely to have those 'good' years on somebody else's club IMO.

  • Don't mean to pile on, posting delay... Hendricks came with the Dempster deal, we shall see.

  • I didn't like the Soriano deal. The kids lost a year and a half of a mentor they really liked. That's not something you can really put a price on.

    Black is pitching very well but it's in the minors. I'm not calling it a win for the Cubs unless he comes to the major league team and contributes. That's probably 2016 if it happens at all. Potential is nice but I want results.

    The Garza deal was a definite win but if the Cubs don't get 1 core piece from that deal I feel it's a disappointment.

    Middle relievers are nice but not core pieces. I know Edwards has a chance to be really good but much like Black it's a wait and see approach. I know it's early but I've given up on Olt, his OBP would be a terrible average and has he has our minor leagues nipping at his heels. Unless he turns it around fast he doesn't have much of a future in Chicago.

  • In reply to Chrissy T:

    I agree. There's different levels to winning a trade. Recouping WAR values from 3-4 guys from a two month rental doesn't do it for me. That should easily be surpassed.

    Dempster was one of the top arms on the market when he was traded, Garza was the top arm, and Shark is 1-B, if you don't get at least 1 core player for each of them I consider that a disappointment. It might be a win vs. the team you traded with but it's a loss for the value you got back with what you gave up.

  • Most of the trades have been very good up to this point. Now it's time to start getting ready for a winning record starting in 2015 and beyond, by trying to get Price from the Rays. Trade whatever return we get for Samardzija + Almora or Soler for Price.

  • In reply to D Square:

    Hope not, I rather see them extend Samardzija than to trade him for a declining Price... Especially of the deal includes a top prospect like Almora or Soler.

  • What makes the Rizzo deal a win is that he signed a team friendly contract. Rizzo will outplay his contract for years as his offensive production will only increase as he matures.

  • In reply to KevinCubsfan23:

    Agreed, Rizzo once he signed that contract that trade became a winner. If Cashner is having this much injury trouble this early in his career, more than likely it will only get worse.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to KevinCubsfan23:

    I don't think you can include the contract a player signs a NOT in conjunction with the trade in our evaluation of it. Who's to say that Cashner wouldn't have signed a similar contract.

  • fb_avatar

    You nailed it Mauricio.

    "What it is. What it shall be. What it was." ~ Adrian Cronauer

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    I thought that was Mork?

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to SKMD:

    Stop that! You're showing our age. Half the people on this page have no idea who that is.

  • fb_avatar

    Edwards has been a mixed bag? He was out with a relatively minor injury, until then he was absolutely lights out, probably the best pitcher in the minors along with vizcaino. If he continues to be unable to stay on the field, then he's a mixed bag - but so far he's a clear win.

  • In reply to SKMD:

    His minor injury still scared me. Any time a pitcher has something with shoulder or elbow we can't say it is minor injury. And since he had a fatigue arm very very early in the season is concerning.

  • In reply to SKMD:

    If a prospect hasn't done anything good in the last 5 minutes he isn't going to make it.

    The Internet

  • In reply to SKMD:

    Anytime a pitcher has a elbow or shoulder issue it can't be labeled a minor injury. I think it is scary that very very early into the season he has shoulder fatigue.

  • In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    Sorry for repeat.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    I think it can be labeled "minor" simply because there was no structural damage. He had inflammation. From what I have read the Cubs are being VERY conservative with him. No reason to have the inflammation be the start of structural damage at his age and ability. While it is worth keeping our eye on I am not losing sleep over it.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    The initial prognosis was no pitching for two weeks and then to begin a throwing program. And that was over two months ago.

    At what point does it turn from very conservative to cause for concern?

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Jimmie Ward:

    At no point is "conservative" a cause for concern. As long as it is not structural damage I am not worried, and I have not seen anything saying that it has been diagnosed as structural damage (ie tear, strain, sprain, etc). The general prescription for inflammation (which I did read it was diagnosed as after MRI showed no structural damage) is: rest, ibuprofen, maybe some light therapy.

    We may disagree on this, but I am not worried until I hear from a reputable source that there is actual physical damage. Short of that I think they are just being cautious with him. I would love to have him dominating AA right now too, but if he needs to rest his arm then so be it. There are medical people monitoring him and when he is ready to come back they will give him the go ahead, and then we can continue our evaluations.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Jimmie Ward:

    Also, in this piece dated to around the time of the injury:

    Very early on they said this was "expected to be sidelined for more than a month" and that the MRI showed no structural damage but only inflammation.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    At no point? So he could miss the rest of the season and you wouldn't be concerned?

    The fact that the throwing program was put on hold and it said "more than a month" and not "more than 2 months" is a definite cause for concern.

    Any injury that potentially wipes away half of a season is concerning so matter how positive you try to paint it.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Jimmie Ward:

    My point with the "more than a month" link was to point out that early on it was known that this was not going to be a 2-week thing, it was a "floor" and not a "ceiling" on the length of time anticipated. I have searched and have not heard any truly updated information on his status so I have to presume it is basically the same. While Theo, Hoyer and the Cubs might have a motive to be secretive about his status (if one chooses to be cynical) there are A LOT of outlets and it is VERY difficult to keep a significant injury off the "rumor mill". Someone would likely have broken the story.

    I don't think either of us has seen his medical charts, or what kinds of rehab he is doing (if any), or any information indicating that his prognosis has changed. The only data that we have that I know of is the reports that he had shoulder inflammation, and he has not pitched in a game in two months. The rest of this is mere speculation and conjecture. Conjecture and speculation based on general knowledge, experience, etc. but speculation none-the-less. Until there is further information I am simply putting my evaluation of him on hold.

    As for concern if he misses half the season, obviously I would prefer he was dominating AA (or AAA) like he did in A+ last year but that is clearly not the case. I choose to take a long view. He is 22 years old in AA ball (and had decent performance). That is young for the league. Even if he is out for the rest of the year--though I don't find that likely--he can come back next year and be fine. There is still time for him to develop into a VERY fine pitcher.

    Again, if reputable reports start coming out that his shoulder injury is more serious, perhaps involving strains or tears to ligaments or tendons I will be concerned, but the dearth of ANY reports such as that I view as a good sign, or a cause to not have undue concern above and beyond missing time in his development which, as I said, he is still VERY young and has time to get the development in.

    I believe this is why they are keeping him out until he is completely healthy rather than having him struggle with these issues for a long time and, potentially, even more directly affect his development such as him changing his motion to "protect" his sore shoulder causing bad mechanics/loss of control at best or serious injury at worst. I am not saying that this is necessarily the case but to point out that it is a possibility that is less sinister (while no less plausible) than considering this injury to be more serious than is being let on.

    When he is ready he will be back on the mound. It is in no one's interest to have him out longer than medically necessary; It is also in no one's interest to rush him back. I will let those who have evaluated his status directly decide when he is ready and will pick up my evaluation of him at that point.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    I never said he was significantly more hurt then what was reported. I'm not even sure what you're talking about to be honest.

  • Edwards has not been a "mixed bag". I'm sorry, but that's just not true. He won minor league player of the year in 2013! He was flat out dominant last year and even more so after he came to the Cubs! He rocketed up prospect boards to #28 for BA and #42 for MLB. He was rated the Cubs 4th best prospect pre-2014 and top pitching prospect. This year he was 1-0 with a 2.61 ERA before going down with his injury... but not all injuries are created equal...

    “The MRI was good news,” Hoyer said. “I was happy for C.J. Came through clean and we’ll start ramping it up.”

    So because he had some soreness we are going to wipe out an entire year of dominance? I'd say between Edwards, Ramirez, and Grimm, the Garza trade was a HUGE win for the Cubs.

    As far as Rizzo vs Cashner: In his time with the Cubs Rizzo has a bWAR of 7.5 - Cashner has a bWAR of 3.7, so Rizzo has been worth double the value for the Cubs vs Cashner for Padres. Add to that Rizzo is only 24, while Cashner is 27, and Rizzo's already signed to a team friendly contract through 2021, while Cashner is a Free Agent in 2017 and it's a land slide victory for the Cubs in my opinion.

    Also as others have mentioned the Maholm deal for Vizcaino is about to pay off big time, and the Dempster deal where we got Hendricks who will be a solid cost controlled starter for the next 6 years, and Villanueva who at 23 years old is still very much on his way and at the least has trade value for the Cubs.

Leave a comment