Cubs Senior VP of Scouting and Player Development Jason McLeod went on 670 The Score, to discuss, among many things, new Cubs starter Eddie Butler.
“I don’t want to say he stalled out,” McLeod said, “but the performance the last two years hasn’t been what you would expect from a guy with his type of arm and his type of stuff.”
The Cubs, you’ll recall, acquired Butler from the Colorado Rockies last week, in exchange for a Minor League reliever and some IFA cap space – which they may not have used anyway, due to their remaining year of restrictions.
Butler – who comes with a long, impressive pedigree and just 25 years on the odometer – has (or had) as much upside as almost any pitching prospect in baseball just a few years ago. And although he’s since become something of a lottery ticket, the Cubs are going to see if they can turn his career around with a change of scenery.
First and foremost, the Cubs picked up Butler to provide upper minors depth for the Major League rotation at Triple-A Iowa, and McLeod noted as much. With the majority of the Cubs best pitching prospects still in the lower minors or dealing with injuries (Dylan Cease, Oscar de la Cruz, Ryan Williams) and just the oft-injured Brett Anderson behind the front five, the Cubs are going to need arms that could – with at least some upside – gobble up innings in the middle of the season.
In that respect, Butler is ideal.
He’s young, has pitched in the Major Leagues before, and has an option year remaining – meaning that the Cubs can send him up and down between the Majors and the Minors as often as they like. And if he does show some promise, the Cubs have him under control for five more seasons.
Because, of course, adding Butler isn’t just about depth. You also want to get him into the system, change the scenery, and see how your pitching infrastructure works with him.
If you recall, we discussed Butler at length late last week, and landed on a really interesting discovery:
Butler’s crossfire release has led to inconsistent timing and worsened his command … Does that remind you of anyone? It should. Jake Arrieta struggled with something very similar before he came to the Cubs as a former top prospect with lively stuff and extremely inconsistent command.
I noted in the post (and later in a TV appearance (hi, mom!)) that although it would be wrong to expect the Cubs to achieve the same amount of success with Butler as they did with Arrieta, that very recent, very successful project (featuring many of the same variables) is not inconsequential.
Interestingly, McLeod made a similar comment about Butler on 670 The Score: “He’s a perfect change-of-scenery candidate, and someone — not to throw Jake Arrieta on him by any means — but someone that has the pedigree of having big stuff, being worthy of that pick.” McLeod would be the first to tell you how unlikely an immediate breakout is, but not all lottery tickets are created equal, and Butler just so happens to be the type of lottery ticket that would pay out nicely if it hits.
But he doesn’t even have to turn into the next Jake Arrieta to be a valuable pick up for the Cubs. In fact, he can fall far short of his ceiling and still be a perfect piece for this team both in 2017 and beyond.
And that alone could prove to be an enormous consideration, given the impending exits of Arrieta and John Lackey after 2017. Anything else, especially considering the low acquisition cost, is pure gravy.
Be sure to check out Jason McLeod’s interview on 670 The Score for more on Butler and the rest of the Cubs system.
At one point, by the way, McLeod discusses the various pitching prospects in the Cubs Minor League system, ending in an exciting tease for one pitchers’ 2017 season:
Cubs VP of Scouting and Player Development Jason McLeod on starting pitcher Dylan Cease (@670TheScore): "The reins are off." Oh baby.
— Michael Cerami (@Michael_Cerami) February 7, 2017