Financial State of the Central: A Review of Trade Season Results for Cubs, Division Opponents

The Cubs had a quiet, but still effective, trade season. They obtained depth for both the starting rotation and the bullpen while not giving up to much in the process. To summarize the Cubs made three moves:

  1. Traded LHP Tyler Thomas to Rangers for RHP Jesse Chavez
  2. Traded RHP Eddie Butler, RHP Rollie Lacy, and a PTBNL to Rangers for Cole Hamels and cash considerations
  3. Traded RHP Jhon Romero to the Nationals for RHP Brandon Kintzler

In reviewing all 65 prospects traded around the deadline, FanGraphs graded the three Cubs prospects dealt away at 47 (Lacy), 50 (Thomas), and 58 (Romero). None were ranked among the organization’s top 30 prospects, so the Cubs did not give away a whole lot. Overall, I’m comfortable with the prospect price paid (pending who the PTBNL is). I’m also good with trading away Eddie Butler, who likely would have needed to be released to clear a roster spot.

Chavez has been solid since arriving in Chicago and Hamels and Kintzler looked good in their debuts against the Pirates last Wednesday. So all three trades have paid dividends already. I also like that Kintzler and Hamels have option year potentials.

Hamels has a $20 million 2019 option with a $6 million buy-out. The latter is a sunk cost, so keeping him in 2019 would only cost $14 million in both real money and cap space. Hamels also had his highest fastball velocity in years in his Cubs debut and used a new changeup effectively. He’s 34, but could very well bounce back a la Justin Verlander to be a valuable contributor this year and next. If not, he is still better than Tyler Chatwood for now.

Kintzler’s option is slightly more complicated. He has a $10 million club option that, if declined, becomes a $5 million player option. Effectively, the Cubs are on the hook for $5 million unless the Cubs decline the option and Kintzler believes he can earn more elsewhere. But if Kintzler surpasses expectations, the Cubs can lock him up for only $5 million more. Handy.

Elsewhere in the Central Division, there were some surprising moves.

The Brewers made some decent, if somewhat puzzling, moves,  trading for 3B Mike Moustakas and 2B Jonathan Schoop. Both are good players, but the Brewers’ infield weakness was at shortstop. They also fortified their bullpen (a point of strength) with Joakim Soria while failing to improve their rotation (a point of weakness). In summary, the Brewers added some nice pieces for reasonable prices, but they did nothing to address their two actual needs.

Milwaukee could have greatly benefited by trading for Matt Harvey from the Reds. When the Reds took Harvey on, they were gambling he could improve and become a valuable trade chip. He did. He was. The Reds simply failed to capitalize. I understand teams are reluctant to trade in division, but this one would have been a low stakes win-win.

Meanwhile in Pittsburgh, the Pirates paid the largest price of the trade season for Chris Archer. The Pirates must be betting that they can fix Archer, because frankly he has been an average pitcher for two seasons now. His deal is affordable, true, but the Pirates gave up an awful lot. Austin Meadows and Tyler Glasnow ranked as the Nos. 2 and 4 prospects, respectively, moved at the deadline. I think the Pirates overpaid.

The biggest shocker in Central by far, however, was the Cardinals’ decision to jettison Tommy Pham. Pham is struggling this season, but posted 6.2 bWAR last year. He also has all three arbitration years remaining. Something is very rotten in the Cardinals locker room for this move to happen. Also, the Cardinals did not even get that much for him.

Justin Williams, the “headlining” prospect they receivedn was only ranked the 11th best prospect moved at the deadline and was ranked the 14th in the Rays system. This would be the equivalent of trading Kyle Schwarber last year after his early struggles for a mid-level prospect package. Cubs fans would have gone nuts. The Cardinals also missed a chance to sell off a few good rentals, like Bud Norris, at the deadline.

St. Louis seems to be trying to compete with Washington for the most dysfunctional front office award. Cardinals fans cannot be happy right now.


Bonus Feature – Daydream Cubs: 1993

In a parallel universe where Moshe was transported back as GM of the 1981 Cubs, we rejoin the Daydream Cubs. Click here for 1992, or here for a summary all drafts & rosters to date.

1993 Draft: (#) Player’s real-life selection round; AS= All-Star; GG = Gold Glove.

  • Round 1: Scott Rolen (2) – 3B: AS (x7), GG (x7)
  • Round 2: Kevin Millwood (11): AS (x1)

After a long dry spell, the Daydream Cubs finally draft a long-term 3B option with Scott Rolen. Speaking of third base, you may notice an unexpected name below. How many of you remembered Jim Thome spent his first five seasons in Cleveland at third base?

1993 will also be Ryne Sandberg’s last for the Daydream Cubs. Jeff Kent, who debuts on the bench this year, will take over at second. We’ll miss you, Ryno! There are a lot of other new names this year: Mike Piazza, Tim Salmon, Pat Hentgen, Kenny Rogers, and Trever Hoffman (plus Thome) all debut for the Daydream Cubs.

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