“Let your mind go, let yourself be free.” – Aretha Franklin, Think
The Cubs traded reliever Scott Effross to the Yankees for starting pitcher Hayden Wesneski yesterday, and I spent most of last night struggling with what the move represents. Effross was Chicago’s best reliever and he had five more years of control. Wesneski is a hard-throwing starter who was New York’s No. 7 prospect. Bear with me here, because it could get a little complicated and I had very little sleep.
After hours of reflection, I think the move is the first signal that the Cubs plan to compete next year. Wesneski will most likely join the rotation, and, combined with Caleb Kilian and Jordan Wicks, gives the North Siders a trio of three young starters to add to Keegan Thompson and Justin Steele to give Chicago’s starting five a complete facelift.
You’ll notice Marcus Stroman and Kyle Hendricks were not mentioned as part of said rotation. I don’t know if either or both will be traded today, but with Chicago’s now impressive pipeline of starting pitchers, their days with the team are certainly numbered. Wade Miley and Drew Smyly will be gone whether they are traded today or not. That said, I wouldn’t mind it if Miley returned as a sixth starter and swingman.
If you haven’t noticed, the Cubs minor league system is nearly saturated. There isn’t much room for an influx of young talent unless they opt for rookie league guys. I’m not sure how that will play out in potential trades involving Willson Contreras, Ian Happ, and David Robertson. The Padres continue to take on salary and are now rumored to be the frontrunners to land Juan Soto. After acquiring Josh Hader yesterday (link below), I could see a scenario where the three Cubs head to San Diego for Hader, Eric Hosmer, Luis Campusano, Robert Hassell III, and maybe more. Only Happ would need to be retained beyond this year, and he’d cost less than Hader.
Happ is reported to be the Dodgers’ backup plan if they miss out on Soto. San Diego GM A.J. Preller could really stick it to Los Angeles with a move that bold.
Cubs fans won’t like Hader because of the racist and misogynist tweets he sent 10 or so years ago, but Chicago’s front office has ignored excess baggage in previous deals for Aroldis Chapman and Daniel Murphy, so precedent exists. Hader could be flippable, too. If not today, then certainly this winter.
The possibility exists that players with plenty of team control could be shipped out of Chicago today, too. That certainly includes Thompson and Steele, but Christopher Morel is also a name to watch. Jed Hoyer could ram Patrick Wisdom, Rafael Ortega, and Frank Schwindel down our throats for one more season if he can pick up replacements for those players who will be ready in 2024. Moving controllable players would certainly signal that Hoyer intends to punt on the next two seasons, but it would also give the organization a tremendous and sizeable base of good, young players to open a new window of contention in 2025.
Of course, this is all speculation on my part. There is not a single rumor tied to any of this, and in fact, it’s really just me thinking out loud while I wait for today’s developments to unfold. I’m sure we’ll be shocked and awed plenty.
Cubs News & Notes
- The Cubs’ pipeline of starting pitchers had done a 180 since the pandemic, and the addition of Wesneski, along with top two draft picks Cade Horton and Jackson Ferris, gives Chicago so many future options it’s nearly head-spinning.
- Senior writer Jim Callis of MLB Pipeline loves the moves Hoyer has made so far.
- I still think a Contreras trade is not fait accompli. He’s slumping, his market is shrinking, and the Cubs aren’t going to trade him below market value. It might not be a bad idea to keep him and lengthen the re-negotiation window.
- Anthony Castrovince of MLB.com believes that Contreras and Happ will end up with the Padres and that Robertson will be plying his craft with the Mets after today.
Odds & Sods
Tony La Russa, this is your wake-up call!
Did Tony La Russa fall asleep in the middle of the game? 😴🤔https://t.co/tJea1lrw0X
— For The Win (@ForTheWin) August 2, 2022
How About That!
The summer stove roared to a radiant glow with a number of deals yesterday. In addition to Chicago’s stunning trade, a few handfuls of players are moving on to new homes.
The Yankees announced that they have acquired Frankie Montas and Lou Trivino from the Athletics. In exchange, the Athletics will receive pitchers JP Sears, Ken Waldichuk, and Luis Medina, as well as second baseman Cooper Bowman.
There was a three-team deal involving the Astros, Rays, and Orioles yesterday. Houston gets outfielder Trey Mancini, from the Orioles; center fielder José Siri goes from Houston to Tampa Bay; lefty Seth Johnson goes from the Rays to Baltimore, and they also sent Jayden Murray to the Astros. To finish the deal, Chase McDermott moves from Houston to the Orioles. Brett Phillips was the odd man out once the trade was completed. The outfielder was designated for assignment by Tampa Bay.
To replace Vazquez, the Red Sox and White Sox agreed to a trade that will send Jake Diekman to the Pale Hose in exchange for catcher Reese McGuire. I find it laughable that my White Sox friends think that Contreras is likely now headed to the South Side.
Jose Quintana can add St. Louis to his NL Central passport stamps. The veteran lefty was traded by the Pirates to the Cardinals along with Chris Stratton for righty Johan Oviedo and minor league third baseman Malcolm Nunez.
The Brewers and Padres exchanged closers yesterday and Milwaukee landed a better-than-decent haul. San Diego gets Josh Hader, who has been exceptional this year except for back-to-back stints where he gave up nine runnings in a third of an inning in exchange for closer Taylor Rogers, starter Dinelson Lamet, pitching prospect Robert Gasser, and outfield prospect Esteury Ruiz.
Apropos of Nothing
The two-year teardown has been tough for Cubs fans to digest, but don’t forget the Cubs built that 2016 championship team thanks to a series of deft deadline and offseason trades starting in 2011. We didn’t have the emotional attachment to those earlier players that we did to Chicago’s most recent core.
Monday’s Three Stars
- Aaron Judge – The homer-a-day outfielder launched his major league-leading 43rd tater of the season on a 2-for-4 night. He is on pace to finish the season with 67 big flies, which would easily surpass Roger Maris for an American League and team record. Maris had 61 home runs in 1961.
- Daniel Lynch – The hum of his fastball was soothing enough to tuck La Russa in for nap time. Lynch also put White Sox hitters in a sleeper hold, shutting them out over 5.1 innings with seven punchouts.
- Juan Soto – If he gets traded today, the Nationals did him right. Soto had one hit and three walks in four plate appearances, the one hit being a fourth-inning solo shot off of ex-teammate Max Scherzer in what might have been Soto’s last game in front of the home crowd.
These two gentlemen can explain the impact of acquiring Wesneski from the Yankees better than I can. I was initially upset, but this sort of feels like the kind of move that always turned to gold for Carter Hawkins when he was with Cleveland, and we’ve been waiting for just such a move. Let’s see how it all plays out.
Scout who is assigned to the Yankees' farm on Hayden Wesneski, whom they just traded to Cubs, said he thought Wesneski was their best pitching prospect and a legit starter. Said he might be less risky than Ken Waldichuk.
— Brendan Kuty 🧟♂️ (@BrendanKutyNJ) August 1, 2022
Hayden Wesneski’s slider can break 20 inches…in the same tier as Sonny Gray’s slider (95th percentile) pic.twitter.com/UAlxds0tsB
— Brendan Miller (@brendan_cubs) August 1, 2022
Tuesday Morning Six-Pack
- Nobody throws a prettier deep ball than Bears quarterback Justin Fields, but he’s still struggling with late throws.
- Meanwhile, Chicago’s front office is reportedly listening to trade offers for tackle Teven Jenkins, who still hasn’t practiced with the team.
- Bears’ wide receiver Equanimeous St. Brown was cut by the Packers a year ago, but he enters camp this year with a career-best opportunity to be an impact pass-catcher.
- The NFL has faced loads of heat for what critics consider light suspensions over cases involving violence against women. By shifting the responsibility for administering penalties from Commissioner Roger Goodell to a disciplinary officer, a policy that was established in 2020, the league hopes to give off the sense that its punishments are the result of a wholly impartial process. Deshaun Watson was suspended for six games, accused by more than two dozen women of sexual misconduct or sexual assault during massage sessions that occurred between the fall of 2019 and March 2021. Everyone loses in the ruling but Watson.
- Millennials are twice as rich as they were before the pandemic. That’s probably good news for karaoke bars.
- A representative for Beyoncé confirmed that a word used on her new album, Renaissance, will be swapped out after disability activists denounced it as an ableist slur that demeans people with spastic cerebral palsy. Just a few weeks ago, singer Lizzo apologized for using the same word in one of her new songs and re-released the track with another lyric. If you haven’t listened to the album, it’s the closest I’ve heard to disco since the late 1970s.
They Said It
- “It’s just part of the business. I’ve been traded at the deadline before. I’ve been traded (two other times), once by the Cubs already. So we all as players just look forward to going to play in between the lines and there’s nothing else we can really do about it. But we all realize that the Cubs will do what they think will make the best team going forward.” – Drew Smyly
- “This is exactly the type of deal the Cubs should be making. You’ve got a reliever who’s performing well, you sell high on him and you get not only a starting pitching prospect but a good one who’s nearly ready for the big leagues. This is exactly the type of move the Cubs should be making. When you get offered a guy like Wesneski for Effross, even though Effross is pitching well, you don’t hesitate to make that.” – Callis
Tuesday Walk-Up Song
Something to cheer us all up as we wait with bated breath on trade announcements. This is becoming a deadline day ritual here.