Not long after they’d announced that Spencer Patton was re-joining the club (presumable on a temporary basis), prompting me to proclaim them done making moves, the Cubs acquired right-handed reliever Joe Smith from the Angels. The move is roughly as interesting as the guy’s name, another meh middle reliever on a team that claims a few of those already. Then again, maybe they’ve found lightning in a bottle.
To echo what I wrote in the rumor piece earlier, the 32-year-old free-agent-to-be has a funky delivery that’s lower than sidearm and higher than submarine and makes it look like he’s throwing from way over by third base. He’s strictly a reliever who’s only started a single game in his professional career, and that was a rehab stint in A-ball earlier this season. Not a power guy, he employs a fastball/slider combo and works in the upper 80’s with the former and upper 70’s with the latter.
He keeps the ball on the ground at a nearly 55% clip, though he’s allowed 4 home runs in just under 38 innings this season. You’d think a guy with his style would be hard on righties, but they’re actually hitting .260 against him in 2016 (lefties are at .244). For his career, though, right-handed hitters have only a .211/.285/.301 line. Smith has struck out fewer than 6 men per 9 innings this season and averages just under 7.5 for his career. He’s not necessarily a control freak, either, as evidenced by a lifetime 3.32 BB/9 mark.
This really doesn’t feel like anything more than a play for organizational depth, but maybe the scouts and front office see something I don’t. Clarifying that, I can guarantee those groups see something I don’t, I’m just not sure what it is. Perhaps a tweak here or there could get him back into full ROOGY form. And I think we saw from Sunday’s crazy affair that you can never have too many relief arms.
In return for Smith, the Cubs sent right-handed pitcher Jesus Castillo (2-3 with a 3.27 ERA and 1.182 WHIP in 7 starts for short-season Eugene) to Anaheim. You might remember the 20-year-old Castillo as one of two pitchers the Cubs got from the Diamondbacks in the Tony Campana trade three years ago. In moving him for Smith, they sacrificed a little potential for some bullpen help down the stretch. Probably not gonna move the needle, but it didn’t really cost anything of great consequence either. Basically a low-risk pickup with potential to pay dividends down the stretch.
Hooray for last-second deadline deals!