Well it finally happened. The Cubs no longer are carrying three catchers as Welington Castillo has been traded to the Seattle Mariners.
In return comes right-handed reliever Yoervis Medina. The new Cub will be reporting to Triple-A for now, but he’s no career minor leaguer.
Medina had a 2.82 ERA in 141 appearances with the Mariners over the past three seasons. He throws hard but struggles with command at times.
Jeff Passan, who originally reported the trade, said Medina will be working to smooth out his mechanics and try to correct a slight down-tick in velocity this year (2 mph). He says that scouts believe he has “closer potential.” Well that certainly sounds like a sunny outlook.
Joe Maddon is familiar with Medina from his time in the American League, and, as expected, he’s looking at the positive aspects. Before yesterday’s game, Maddon compared Medina’s upside to Cubs setup man Pedro Strop, writes Patrick Mooney.
“I’ve heard more about swing-and-miss capability, a breaking ball and sinking the ball in the ground, which are really attractive qualities,” Maddon said.
If Medina turns out to be similar to Pedro Strop as a Cub, I’m liking this deal. Castillo didn’t have a spot on this Cubs team after they traded for Miguel Montero and signed David Ross. And carrying three catchers, none of whom could play a different position, really limited the Cubs’ bench options. So now the Cubs can have a more traditional-type bench.
How long before we can start calling the Cubs’ new acquisition “Funky Cold” Medina? I’m hoping soon because I’m a big fan of the song.
Roster shuffle finalized
To take Castillo’s spot on the 25-man roster, the Cubs called up outfielder Mike Baxter. The 30-year-old, who can also play first base, likely is a temporary solution while Arismendy Alcantara and Javier Baez continue to develop at Triple-A.
Baxter hit .290/.377/.330 with Triple-A Iowa, and he has previous major league experience with the Padres, Mets and Dodgers. He made his Cubs debut pinch-hitting in last night’s loss to the Padres. He was fortunate enough to have to face one of the best closers in the game, Craig Kimbrel. Welcome, Mike.
Matt Szczur couldn’t be recalled since it has been less than 10 days since they sent him down. Also, Baxter provides another left-handed option to complement Junior Lake. I still expect we’ll see Szczur again soon.
A sloppy loss
Last night’s loss to the Padres was pretty ugly, with the Cubs committing three errors.
It spoiled a very nice pitching performance by Jason Hammel, who went seven innings and gave up two unearned runs on only three hits. He walked nobody and struck out eight.
Chris Coghlan hit two solo home runs, and Dexter Fowler added one of his own, but it wasn’t enough. Frustrating, but at least the Cubs had a shot to win, despite the sloppiness.
* Some bad news on the injury front: Tommy La Stella will miss another month after injuring his oblique while rehabbing in Double-A Tennessee, according to Patrick Mooney. The infielder, who was acquired in the offseason for reliever Arodys Vizcaino from the Braves, only has appeared in two games for the Cubs this year. Unfortunate. Although, honestly, with the current Cubs infield, how much playing time would he be getting anyway?
* Top pitching prospect C.J. Edwards (now going by the name Carl Edwards Jr.) picked up the save for the Smokies yesterday. He pitched two scoreless innings with three strikeouts, three walks and no hits. I’m really excited to see if he gets a chance in the Cubs bullpen by the end of the year.
* Dylan Cease pitched in an extended Spring Training game yesterday and was reportedly hitting 98-99 on the gun, according to Bill Mitchell. Cease was drafted last year in the sixth round and is coming off an elbow injury. Definitely could be somebody to watch.
* Theo Epstein’s Hot Stove Cool Music benefit concert will be taking place July 9, just down the street from Wrigley Field and Metro. Tickets go on sale Friday, May 22. The headliner hasn’t been announced yet (sounds like it will be a pretty high-profile act), but other performers will include members of Wilco, Smashing Pumpkins and Tributosaurus. And the great Lin Brehmer will be there as an emcee. I’ve never attended this event before, but I think this year might be the year that I go.
* The April 25 rain-out in Cincinnati has been rescheduled as a double-header on July 22. The two games will be at 12:35 and 6:10 p.m.