Well, it was the minor deal that had been discussed for days, and tonight the Cubs pulled the trigger. During those days of discussion, the question was: will the Cubs part with Tyler Colvin or DJ LeMahieu for Rockies third baseman Ian Stewart?
It turns out the answer was both.
The Cubs also pick up Casey Weathers, a right-handed minor league pitcher. Weathers, 26, was a first round pick back in 2007, but has never done anything to justify his selection. He’s always struck out a ton of guys, but he’a also always walked a ton of guys. At 26, he’s still not made it out of AA. Suffice it to say, he is a relatively unexciting inclusion. (UPDATE: He was the Rockies’ 14th best prospect before last season according to Baseball America, and he did have Tommy John surgery at one point, so his advanced age is a little more explainable. And, again: he does strike out a ton of batters, to the tune of 11.3 per 9 over his minor league career.)
Which means the Cubs gave up not only Tyler Colvin for Stewart (a swap which would have been acceptable, but unenticing due to Colvin’s cheap contract (relative to Stewart’s)), but also a very useful young player in DJ LeMahieu. When rumors swirled that the Rockies wanted LeMahieu, alone, for Stewart, I thought it was too much to give up for a guy the Rockies were looking to dump. It was reported that the Cubs said no to the LeMahieu for Stewart proposal, and I smiled.
So you can only imagine what I’m thinking now that the Cubs have given up both Colvin and LeMahieu for Stewart.
I’m not too happy about it.
Let’s be clear: neither Colvin nor LeMahieu figured prominently into the Cubs’ immediate future. Colvin showed absolutely nothing last year to demonstrate that his 2010 season wasn’t a mirage. And LeMahieu, 23, had the glove for third, but not the bat, and had the bat for second, but not the glove.
I understand moving them.
But they had value. LeMahieu, in particular, was always a kid just outside the Cubs’ top 10 prospects, and many scouts love his bat. He may not develop power, but becoming a .300/.360/.420 hitter at the big league level was not out of the question. If he blossoms in Colorado, I may be despondent. (Ok, that was dramatic.)
As for who the Cubs pick up, in addition to Weathers, I’m just not that excited about Stewart. Obviously the men in charge see the upside – Stewart is still just 26, destroyed the minors when he was young at every level, and had a decent season and a half two years ago – and I’m not going to question the scouting side of this thing. In isolation, trading LeMahieu and Colvin for Stewart and Weathers is understandable.
What I question is whether Stewart should be handed the Cubs’ starting third base job in 2012, to the exclusion of other possible candidates. Based on what the Cubs gave up to get him, it seems like he will. He’s coming off a lost year in 2011 and a wrist injury, and many scouts – Kevin Goldstein, among them – simply don’t believe he’s a big league regular. And, he’s scheduled to make some $2.5 million in 2012 (with two more arbitration years thereafter). He was at risk for being non-tendered on Monday, but apparently the Cubs felt they couldn’t risk another team swooping in and taking him.
I’m going to have to let this news sink in over the next few days, and hear from the men upstairs, before fully making up my mind. Maybe Stewart won’t be the starter. Maybe this is a precursor to other moves. Maybe saving money at third base was desperately necessary for other really exciting, super awesome moves.