I will have thoughts on the Cubs acquiring 23-year-old righty Jacob Turner from the Marlins next week, but, until then, here are some of the thoughts from folks involved in the deal and those who are looking at it from the outside (and a few from me, too) …
- From the man on top, here’s how Theo Epstein explained the desire to pick up Turner (CSN): “He was one of the better starting pitching prospects in all of baseball a couple years ago. We feel like that talent is still there. If you look at his velocity, it’s still there. If you look at some of his peripheral numbers, he’s still pretty decent.” That’s literally exactly how I described Turner when the Marlins DFA’d him earlier this week, which is not a self-pat on the back, but instead is a confirmation that, when it comes to guys like Turner (and low-cost acquisitions), we’re looking at the right things when evaluating targets on a very superficial level. That’s comforting. Also, it’s an opportunity to say: yeah, I totally agree with Epstein here. It’s no lock that Turner lives up to his considerable potential, but he’s got the hallmarks of a guy on whom you’re happy to take a chance.
- The CSN piece has a great deal more from Epstein on Turner and on the deal, and is worth a read. Epstein points out that Turner’s big league deal out of the draft may have artificially accelerated his ascent to the big leagues (the implication being that he may have initially missed out on some development), and the Cubs hope they can give him a bit of a reset between now and Spring Training.
- Speaking of which, you’re probably wondering what I was: since Turner is out of minor league options and has to immediately go on the 25-man roster … why isn’t he yet? Consider this a learning opportunity on roster rules (we’re getting a lot of those with this Turner business). I knew that, upon a transaction, guys are permitted a period of time to report to their new team, but (1) usually that happens immediately when there’s a big leaguer involved, and (2) I’d never considered the interplay between the reporting time and the 25-man roster in a situation like this (again, typically when a team acquires the type of player who has no minor league options, it’s a guy they want playing in games ASAP). So, what we’re seeing is a rare situation where the Cubs are content for Turner to take his time reporting, which affords them a little more time to figure out what they’re going to do on the 25-man. I expect Turner to work out of the bullpen for now for the Cubs, so it seems most likely that he’ll replace a reliever on the roster. The Cubs could option someone like Chris Rusin, could DL someone like Brian Schlitter or Justin Grimm for rest purposes (a la Neil Ramirez), or could start the process of moving someone like Carlos Villanueva out (if there’s a sense that they can find a taker). This should happen in the next couple of days.
- I like the way Eno Sarris describes Turner:
Turner has issues, but so far he’s shown an above-average two-seamer, slider and curve by swinging strikes & grounders. That’s a proven mix.
— Eno Sarris (@enosarris) August 8, 2014
- To that end, the obviously missing pitch is a changeup, which would help Turner be more effective against lefties. Dave Cameron writes a quick take on the Turner deal, and characterizes Turner’s lack of effectiveness against lefties so far in his career as a reason for pessimism about what Turner can be. It’s an interesting read, but I’ll toss out a bunch of caveats: there’s a sample size issue, there’s Turner’s extreme youth (he was facing big leaguers as a 20-year-old – of course he struggled against lefties at that age), and there’s the fact that no one is looking at this deal is the Cubs picking up an ace. As a roll of the dice on a guy who *could* be a quality middle-of-the-rotation arm (with upside at his age) for cheap (both in salary and acquisition cost), this is a great move.
- I’ll have more thoughts later on Turner’s platoon splits, and the implications thereof.
- On his pitches, C.J. Nitkowski sees a dominant two-seamer (mid-90s with great movement and a huge groundball rate) and a wipeout curveball. And, if it’s true that Turner has only two excellent pitches, Nitkowski points out that he could become a quality late-inning reliever. Given his age and physical ability, obviously the Cubs would love to be able to keep him starting, but it sounds like it’ll take an improvement in his slider or changeup.
- Keith Law, who broke the trade initially, called it a good move for the Cubs, and says that Cubs fans should be “very pleased” with the deal. Ok. We will be.
- J.J. Cooper offers the tweet of the transaction:
To sum up, the Jacob Turner deal makes all kinds of sense for the Cubs. Makes no sense for the Marlins.
— JJ Cooper (@jjcoop36) August 8, 2014
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