I know you think I am being redundant here, but I love this trade. James Farris is a good pitcher who has solid average stuff with good movement and command. He will probably have some success as a middle reliever, perhaps more, if he gets the opportunity. That opportunity should be easier for him in Colorado.
In exchange, the Cubs received former top SP prospect Eddie Butler, who has battled injury and then had a disastrous 2016, but only on the surface. More on that later.
Additionally, the Cubs are sending their top international bonus slot (28th) to the Rockies in exchange for the 74th spot. The Cubs lose $255K from their international signing pool.
I did see Butler throw here in AZ last spring and I was wowed by his raw stuff. He was throwing 96-97 mph and touching 98 on occasion. He showed a good change-up, potentially a second plus pitch, and a very hard slider (high 80s/low 90s) that should grade out as at least average but perhaps a lot more considering it’s sheer velocity if he can just harness the pitch.
Butler was once a well-regarded prospect after being picked in the sandwich round (1st round supplemental) in the 2012 draft. Even with that lofty draft status, Butler still outperformed expectations and became a top 50 prospect in all of baseball entering the 2015 season, but that is about when those troubles began.
Aside from injury, Butler has had significant command issues. And if this is starting to sound a bit like a Jake Arrieta-like role of the dice, then I would say you aren’t too far off.
Butler did improve his control during his partial season in the big leagues in 2016, lowering his BB/9 IP ratio to just 2.95. But he did have quite a bit of what may have just been bad luck. His strand rate was a very low 58%. suggesting he was unlucky with men on base. And the BABIP against was a whopping .354, which suggests he was unlucky with balls put in play. Of course, that is just a rough guide and it may not always be due to bad luck, especially with regard to his high BABIP. That could also be caused by things like a lack of movement, a delivery that is too easy for hitters to pick up, or just poor command and leaving the ball out over the plate — especially if he was falling behind on counts. His high HR/Flyball ratio of 20.3% was also exceptionally unlikely and it may have had something to do with pitching in Colorado — but again, it could have had something to do with the quality of contact. The sizable gap between his ERA (7.17) and his xFIP (4.47) suggest there is significant room for improvement with nothing more than a little good fortune.
Of course, the Cubs would like him to be even better than that. There is no doubt Butler is going to need some work and perhaps some tweaking from Chris Bosio to get the most out of his significant raw talent — though it just be a case of just getting healthy and giving him some time to find it himself. He also has one option left so he does not need to even play in Chicago this year. Butler is still just 25 years old and the Cubs already have 6 solid starters, so there is no need to rush him. He can work on some of those nuances that might get him past some of the issues that have dragged his performance down. For now, he may just serve as AAA depth but the hope is that he can be a potential replacement in the rotation next year, when the Cubs will likely lose John Lackey and, of course, Jake Arrieta.
The Cubs gave up James Farris, who turned himself into a solid relief prospect. Farris pitches in the low 90s that has good movement. He compliments that with a solid slider and above average command. He projects more as a middle reliever but perhaps more given his good control and demonstrated ability to pitch in high leverage situations.
The Cubs DFA’d Dylan Floro to make room for Butler.
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