Morning Cubs Roundup: Making sense of the flurry of moves made by Cubs before the deadline
Tuesday at 9:32 am
Up Next: Cubs (20-14) @ Pirates (10-21) – 6:10 CST, MARQ
Trade Deadline Recap
Lefties have been problem for the Cubs in 2020. The Cubs hitters have failed to produce against left-handed pitchers (84 wRC+), while their own staff has failed to retire left-handed batters. The front office used the days leading up to the trade deadline yesterday adding options to try and resolve those issues.
First, the full accounting:
CF Cameron Maybin acquired for IF Zack Short
LHRP Andrew Chafin acquired for PTBNL/Cash
LHRP Josh Osich acquired for PTBNL/Cash
Over the weekend:
DH Jose Martinez acquired for two PTBNL
Veteran RHRP A.J. Ramos signed to Minor League deal and sent to South Bend
The Maybin deal is pretty straightforward. Albert Almora Jr. has been a disaster at the plate since the middle of 2018 and the team could simply wait no longer. Maybin isn’t exactly an offensive stalwart, and doesn’t help much against lefties (85 wRC+), but considering the guy he is replacing has managed an overall wRC+ of 64 and 35 the past two years, Maybin becomes a welcome addition. Almora managed to hold on to his 40-man spot, the team decided to DFA Ian Miller instead, but he was optioned to South Bend to make room on the active roster. With Ian Happ breaking out as the everyday centerfielder I don’t expect Maybin to get a ton of starts. Maybin does give the team the option of switching Happ to one of the corner spots more often should the need arise though.
Martinez is the guy who figures to get the most playing time of all the acquisitions. He is going to DH against all left-handed starters, and if he gets hot he could get some starts against righties as well. The former Cardinal is a true lefty masher (.320 career AVG, 153 wRC+) who will also offer the Cubs a prime option off the bench when facing guys like Josh Hader late in games. He is a bit of a disaster in the field, but he has experience in the corner outfield, but I’m not sure I want him playing anywhere other than first base.
The addition of those two, plus the imminent returns of Kris Bryant and Steven Souza Jr., the Cubs should receive a boost against southpaws over the remainder of the season. There are still enough questions where I don’t believe the issue is fixed, but I think they now have enough where they can at least be competitive in games against good lefties.
Of the two lefty relievers the Cubs acquired Andrew Chafin has been by far the more successful over the course of his career. His xFIP has never strayed outside the 3.00-4.00 range in his six years as a reliever. His ERA is an unseemly 8.10 in a very small sample size in 2020, and he is currently on the IL, but apparently his stuff hasn’t declined this year. He throws a 93-94 mph fastball and pairs it with a solid slider. Chafin has proven he can get outs in the Majors and he has proven he can miss some bats. Both are desperately needed from the left side of the Cubs pen. There is definitely some risk because of the current injury and poor early results this year, but for the nominal cost the Cubs paid, Chafin is well worth the risk.
The deal for Osich is a bit more perplexing. Again, the cost was essentially nothing, but he is a guy who has never had consistent success in the Majors despite ample opportunity. He is missing more bats so far this season (28.6 K%) than he ever has, but his ERA is still above 5.00 (although his xFIP is a more seemly 3.49). Maybe he’s been a little unlucky this season (most of the damage to his ERA seems to stem from ne bad outing). He’s developed a cutter over the last year or so which has helped him, and he at least provides some competition for Kyle Ryan as a potential second lefty to pair with Chafin.
It is really difficult to assess what they have in A.J. Ramos. He hasn’t pitched in the Majors since tearing his labrum in 2018. He was with the Dodgers until recently being granted his release. Reports are he’s looked good, but we’ll see. He joins the army of other right-handed relievers battling for a chance in South Bend. What could separate Ramos above the rest though is his changeup. It was his best pitch before the injury, and it was effective against left-handed hitters.
Morning Cubs Roundup