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Cubs Wed Jul 03 2013

The Cubs Score Well in Tuesday's Trio of Trades

Cubs_200.pngIf you thought watching Cubs baseball this year couldn't get any worse, just wait until the club gets finished dealing away their tradable assets. But alas, the swaps of players and cash are all in the name of the future. With the Cubs in fourth place in a stacked National League Central along with sporting the fifth worst record in baseball, Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer wasted no time in pulling the trigger yesterday afternoon.

In the span of 30 minutes, three trades were announced that not only reshaped the current team, but gave the Cubs more cash to spend on the international market. Without making the system sound complicated, each organization is given a budget based on the reverse order of how they finished in 2012. The budgets are broken into four different slots for each team at decreasing values, and are available to be traded. Teams can use the money they have or trade for however they'd like to sign as many eligible foreigners to play for them as they choose.

Instead of breaking down the trades individually, here's a look at the incoming and outgoing assets for the Cubs yesterday afternoon:

Outgoing:

Scott Feldman, SP (Baltimore)
Steve Clevenger, C (Baltimore)
Carlos Marmol, RP (L.A. Dodgers)
Ronald Torreyes, 2B (Houston)

Incoming:

Jake Arrieta, SP (from Baltimore)
Pedro Strop, RP (from Baltimore)
Matt Guerrier, RP (from L.A. Dodgers)
$963,000 in international signing bonus money

Arrieta, 27, is the exact type of pitcher the Cubs are looking for in deals like this. He throws five pitches, but will probably get that cut down to three when starting his work in Iowa, including a fastball that averages 93 MPH. His career ERA is a scary 5.46, but his Fielding Independent Pitching mark of 4.45 for his career hints at some bad luck. The hope for the Cubs is to somehow harness his fastball that has trouble finding the strike zone, and that moving to the easier league (facing eight hitters instead of nine) will be a boost like it has been for other hurlers. If he figures it out, the deal is an absolute steal. If starting doesn't work out, they'll try to shift him to a bullpen role to see if he fares any better. He'll start in Iowa with a potential call-up after more trades are completed.

Strop, 28, will remind you a lot of Marmol. He has a fastball/slider combination, and walks too many guys. The difference is that he makes under a million dollars, and has a few more years of cost control compared to the outgoing Marmol. He's had success in the past, posting ERAs of 2.05 and 2.44 the last two seasons. He'll join the bullpen tonight and will hopefully rediscover his form from previous seasons.

Guerrier, 34, was a way for the Cubs to find a taker for Marmol, and the Dodgers even decided to kick in $500,000 to offset some of the money owed the rest of the season. The deal is puzzling, however, as the Cubs gave up some international signing money to get a guy that doesn't figure into their future plans. Guerrier will certainly be let go, after struggling all three years in the obscene contract L.A. signed him to after being used heavily by Minnesota before that.

Feldman will surely be an upgrade in an Orioles rotation that was desperately seeking a starter, and with his contract expiring at season's end, he didn't have much of a future with the Cubs. He was signed in hopes that he'd start the year like he did, and they'd trade him to a contender like they did. It'as exactly what they did with Paul Maholm last year (getting Arodys Vizcaino in return), and they've repated the feat this year. Textbook.

Clevenger didn't figure into the Cubs plans as a catcher who can't stay healthy behind Welington Castillo, and Marmol was already out the door one way or another. Torreyes was an interesting second baseman that didn't strike out much, but he had no power potential because of his size, and he plays at a position in the mid-minors that he'd eventually get squeezed from because of other high profile prospects. He came over with Travis Wood and Dave Sappelt in the Sean Marshall trade, and was smartly flipped for another asset.

Despite not being tied to a player's name that anyone would know, the international spending cash the Cubs received is the big gain of the day. With the newly acquired cash, the Cubs inked the second (Gleyber Torres, SS, Venezuela) and 16th (Erling Moreno, RHP, Colombia) best international prospects according to Baseball America, and have apparently agreed to a deal with top prospect Eloy Jimenez, an outfielder from the Dominican Republic. They also signed top pitcher Jefferson Mejia from the DR as well, but he wasn't ranked by Baseball America due to his previous signing eligibility.

Though the likeliness of any of these players reaching the Major Leagues is slim because most of them are 16 years old and difficult to project, they represent additional chances the Cubs are giving themselves to get a great player. Not all prospects will turn into something great, but the team has done a fantastic job at stocking the system with enough potential that the likelihood of enough of the players working out and making the Cubs contenders is much higher than many other teams.

It was a good day for the Cubs future. And these days, that's about all you can ask for.

 
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