The Rundown: Busy Deadline Ends With Flurry of Moves, Cubs Trade Grades, Bryant Returns Tonight, Mid-Season Award Winners
Yesterday was MLB’s trade deadline and the pace at which trades were executed can best be explained as frenetic with a caffeine chaser. I’m not sure how many players were moved in total, but even Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer did more than I thought they might, though it was nothing truly significant and got mixed reviews.
"Our goal here is to win as many games as possible and hopefully be able to get a good seed in this tournament and then to keep playing for a while in October. And we felt like we needed to make these additions to make that possible.”https://t.co/kHjEtDsNVS
— Tony Andracki (@TonyAndracki23) September 1, 2020
The Cubs entered the halfway point of the regular season with three needs to fill: a left-handed reliever, a fourth outfielder, and someone who can mash against lefties. Mission accomplished, as Epstein was able to acquire four veterans who could be the separators his team needs to win the division. Though we don’t know who will eventually leave the organization because most deals came with the PTBNL caveat, the front office parted with just one of their top 30 minor league players.
Here’s how I graded all of the team’s moves through yesterday based on potential impact:
- DH José Martínez for a PTBNL or cash considerations: Martínez mashes lefties and fills a void at DH, where, as I mentioned yesterday, Victor Caratini has really struggled. The backup catcher slashed just .161/.257/.226 in games he served as Chicago’s extra hitter, which is worse than Jon Lester hit last season. Epstein gets an A+ for this move.
- LHP Andrew Chafin for a PTBNL: Chafin might not be able to pitch for another two weeks and he’s a free agent at the end of this season. He’s struggled in limited work this year but has a decent track record historically. The Diamondbacks paid his contract down to the league minimum just to move him. He could give the team a boost in the playoffs but nobody should count on that, so grade this trade a D that could potentially trend upward or downward depending on the eventual return.
- LHP Josh Osich for a PTBNL: The journeyman LOOGY pitched for the White Sox last year and would be a great pick up if he only had to face lefty hitters. With the three-batter minimum rule, I suppose you can bring him in with two outs and hope the opposing manager doesn’t pinch hit a righty. We tried this experiment last year with Derek Holland and we all remember how well that went. In defense of Epstein, Osich had one really bad outing where he gave up five runs, but he’s been decent outside of that. Give Theo a C+ for this trade.
- OF Cameron Maybin for shortstop prospect Zack Short: Because Albert Almora Jr. and Steven Souza Jr. have hit a combined .155, the need for another outfielder who can provide a little pop was obvious. I have no problem losing Short as I don’t believe he had a chance to make any impact at the major league level, and the Cubs are incredibly deep at shortstop system-wide. Give Epstein a B+ for this acquisition.
As the smoke clears, David Ross will have more lineup flexibility and a stronger bench, but the bullpen isn’t any better than it was heading into the deadline.
Cubs News & Notes
- After the Cubs acquired Maybin, the front office announced that Almora Jr. was optioned to South Bend and Tyler Chatwood was placed on the 10-day IL. The club also DFA’d Ian Miller and Josh Phegley.
- Ian Happ is the fifth best hitter in baseball this year.
- Kris Bryant will return to the lineup for tonight’s game against the Pirates.
- Jason Heyward is quietly having his best season as a Cub.
- Because of the pandemic, onboarding the team’s new players takes on a whole different meaning (subscription to The Athletic required).
- Hoyer said the key to the deadline was “addressing those things we haven’t done very well so far.”
- Catching coach Mike Borzello received a one-game suspension for his actions during a bench clearing incident in Saturday’s game with the Reds.
- Eighteen of the Cubs’ remaining 26 games will be played against their NL Central rivals. The Cubs have two games left with the Indians and three with the twins and White sox.
Odds & Sods
Because we are at the halfway point of the season, let’s hand out some NL hardware:
- MVP – Sophomore Padres shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. is slashing .313/.395/.660, leads the NL in home runs and RBI, and is among the league leaders in stolen bases. He’s been a joy to watch this season.
- Cy Young – If the season ended today how do you not give this award to Yu Darvish? His six wins lead the league, and ties him for his most in one season as a Cub. He’s been worth 2.1 WAR and has 52 punchouts in 42 IP with just eight walks. Darvish has notched six quality starts and has a 1.47 ERA with a 2.02 FIP. Take away his only bad start (his first of the year) and his ERA drops to 0.92.
- Rookie of the Year – Second baseman Jake Cronenworth probably didn’t make any preseason favorites lists but with a 1.7 WAR through the first month of baseball he’s running away from the competition. In fact, nobody’s close. I expected this to be a race between Gavin Lux and Nico Hoerner.
- Manager of the Year – I should give it to Jayce Tingler, but he publicly admonished Tatis earlier this season when the shortstop hit a grand slam while his team had a 10-3 lead. The Friars are one of the best teams in baseball, but they’re not as good as the 26-10 Dodgers, who may be cruising to their third World Series appearance in four years. Give the award to Dave Roberts.
- Executive of the Year – I’ve never seen an executive own a trade deadline the way that A.J. Preller did this week. Will it all pan out? Nobody knows, but he has to be leading the race for this trophy and he has certainly done everything possible to give the Dodgers a run for their money.
Apropos of Nothing
Kurt Cobain says hello.
Hawaii's Kilauea volcano, one of the world's most active, recently formed a smiley face in its over 24-metre deep crater during an ongoing eruption.
Mick Kalber of Paradise Helicopters captured the breathtaking scene. pic.twitter.com/VzGOvRPo8t
— Domenico (@AvatarDomy) August 29, 2020
How About That!
Anthony Castrovince of MLB.com ranked all of the deadline deals by potential impact.
At the start of this week, three National League teams were in playoff position with a losing record, so it’s quite possible that a team could sneak into the playoffs with a sub-.500 record.
The Padres are the darlings of baseball.
Isan Díaz sought reinstatement to play after deciding he wouldn’t because of the coronavirus. The Marlins second baseman was cleared to return following an agreement between MLB and the MLBPA.
Steve Cohen appears to be clearing all the hurdles to take over as owner of the Mets and will reportedly get approval from the other owners.
Monday’s Three Stars
- A.J. Preller – What a weekend for the Padres GM! It’s like he is waking up this morning with a completely new team.
- Marco Gonzalez – The lefty starter tossed a 4-hit complete game with 8 strikeouts as the Mariners edges the Angels 2-1.
- Tyler Glasnow – The young lefty has emerged as an ace for the Rays, and yesterday he out dueled former Pirates teammate Gerrit Cole, allowing just two hits over six innings with nine punchouts in Tampa Bay’s 5-3 win over the Yankees.
Sliding Into Home
Sorry for the late entry today, I was very sick this morning and nearly made a trip to the ER. I did want to say thanks to everyone who bought a t-shirt from 26Shirts. We sold 51 and raised $204 in doing so, and I cannot thank you all enough. Much love to each of you.
For Padres fans, July was the best of times and ended with a bang.
ICYMI https://t.co/HXjH9kvxXQ… thoughts on the trends snd issues that were part of the strangest trade deadline ever.
— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) September 1, 2020
They Said It
- “We really believe in this group. Given the sacrifices they’ve made, and given how well they’ve come together, it felt like the right thing to do to try to address some deficiencies that our group had.” – Jed Hoyer
- “[Martínez] has hit his entire career. Especially when he was in St. Louis for the last couple years, you see him come to the plate and you feel like he’s going to have a good at-bat. He’s going to make things happen. He’s going to move the baseball. He always seems like a tough out, or you flip on the TV and he’s in a highlight of getting a big hit.” – David Ross
Tuesday Walk Up Song
Night Moves by Bob Seger – Every year as summer wound down we would have huge multi-family gatherings in Indiana Beach at a 10-bedroom cottage that my family owned. I remember stealing my mom’s 1976 Monte Carlo when I was 15 and driving along the Twin Lakes listening to my Seger cassettes. Such good times, and I never got caught once.