If you’re a Cubs rumor hound and an amateur dot-connector, the headline shouldn’t be a shock to you. We knew the Cubs and Padres had discussed an Eric Hosmer (prospect-buying) trade earlier this year (and could again this offseason), and we knew Luis Campusano’s name had come up in rumors at the time of the Yu Darvish trade. So, there are your dots.
But now we’ve got an actual confirmation from the San Diego side of things that the Cubs were interested in the 23-year-old catcher prospect. Via the very well-connected Dennis Lin, when asked about the possibility of the Padres trading Campusano this offseason:
I don’t know if it’s likely, but it seems to increase the chances of a Campusano trade. The Padres now have a catching surplus and, as before, needs elsewhere in the lineup. They also have shown a willingness to discuss Campusano in trade talks. That was the case last summer when San Diego pursued Max Scherzer and Trea Turner. Campusano’s name also was raised in a potential deal that would have sent Hosmer and a portion of his contract to the Cubs.
The Padres are loaded with catchers right now, with Austin Nola, Victor Caratini, and the recently-acquired Jorge Alfaro all on the big league roster. Campusano has also gotten a taste of big league action the last two years, while hitting .295/.365/.541 (122 wRC+) at Triple-A in 2021 over 81 games.
To be sure, the Padres don’t *have* to trade a catcher, given the likely arrival of the designated hitter and the ability to keep Campusano at Triple-A for a little longer until a need arises. But it is certainly an area from which they could deal if they were really desperate to move a contract like Hosmer’s.
Enter the Cubs, who are still in prospect-acquisition mode, who have a spot where they could deploy Hosmer at least as a complementary player, and who have a starting catcher in the final year of team control, without a (healthy) young catcher in waiting at the upper levels. This, uh, kinda seems obvious, no? (Throw in Ha-Seong Kim and it’s even more obvious, amirite?)
Campusano, who has a couple minor league options remaining, is a top 20 prospect in the game (much higher than, for example, outfield prospect Robert Hassell – a top 75 type – whom we’d previously assumed would be the target of the Cubs’ realistic affections). It’s pretty hard for me to see the Padres parting with Campusano ONLY to save salary on Hosmer. I think he’d actually cost some value, or at least the Cubs would have to take on the entirety of Hosmer’s deal, rather than a mere portion.
In any case, with some confirmation out of San Diego that the Cubs and Padres had considered this swap – and given that it arguably makes even more sense now than it did in July – I think we should keep this on our radars.