Remembering That Big Trade with the Tigers, Minor League Needs, Soriano Underrated, and Other Cubs Bullets

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Remembering That Big Trade with the Tigers, Minor League Needs, Soriano Underrated, and Other Cubs Bullets

Chicago Cubs

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•   I think the folks at MLB Trade Rumors have done an excellent job weathering the lockout with their coverage – a particularly tough task for a site focused on baseball transactions at a time when big league transactions are literally impossible for months at a time. A recent example had them looking back at a very specific Cubs trade, which may or may not be a positive memory for you: the 2017 deadline deal that sent infield prospects Jeimer Candelario and Isaac Paredes to the Tigers for catcher Alex Avila (rental) and lefty reliever Justin Wilson (extra year of control). In the lengthy review, MLBTR’s Anthony Franco is highly complimentary of both organizations on how things worked out, even as the forward-looking aspect obviously favors the Tigers:

Nothing Candelario does stands out as excellent, but he has developed into a well-rounded offensive player. His contact rate, hard contact frequency and average exit velocity are all slightly above-average. So too are his line drive and barrel rates, as Candelario has demonstrated a knack for consistently squaring balls up. He’s been effective from both sides of the plate — .299/.350/.473 as a righty hitter; .270/.358/.453 as a lefty — allowing skipper A.J. Hinch to plug him into the lineup no matter the matchup. And while Candelario’s not a great defender at the hot corner, public metrics have considered him competent there. With top prospect Spencer Torkelson soon to assume first base duties in the Motor City, Candelario should be plugged in at third for at least the next couple seasons ….

Paredes, who was in Low-A at the time of the trade, also remains in the Detroit organization. He’s yet to find much MLB success, but he’s coming off an impressive .265/.397/.451 showing over 315 plate appearances with Triple-A Toledo. He still has a pair of minor league option years remaining and could yet develop into a productive infielder himself.

•   For the Cubs, the deal was absolutely necessary at the time. The 2017 team still had its exceptional core, and had designs on another deep postseason run after acquiring Jose Quintana earlier in July. The bullpen was in need of another impactful late-inning reliever, and the Cubs were hard up for a quality back-up catcher after the departure of Miguel Montero mid-season. Avila would go on to be pretty critical for the Cubs after Willson Contreras pulled his hamstring, but Wilson struggled badly with control out of the gate. He righted the ship enough to be a useful reliever down the stretch, but he was not the guy he was supposed to be (i.e., a late-innings shut-down option to pair with Wade Davis), and it definitely hurt the Cubs in the postseason. Wilson was solid for the Cubs in 2018, but not a difference-maker. (Wilson was traded to the Reds by the Yankees this past season in an odd deal, and then he had a player option for 2022 – so he’ll be back with the Reds.)

•   I loved those two particular targets at the time for the Cubs, and while I was really unhappy to see the Cubs part with Paredes (he was only 18 and showing out in full-season ball already), there was a very clear reality that Candelario was not going to have a meaningful spot on the Cubs any time soon. As a bench guy, Candelario may have had value to the Cubs over the next few years (behind Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo), but it’s also very possible he never would have developed as he did in Detroit. His departure doesn’t burn me up too much, and I’ve been happy to see him succeed. As for Paredes, it was the price of getting the package deal, and we’ll see what he becomes. He’ll play the 2022 season at just 23 years old, having already pretty clearly established himself as a guy who can rake at Triple-A (with an ungodly walk rate, decent power, and no strikeouts … ).

•   Oh, by the way, the deal was still totally worth it because it gave us this Alex Avila walk-off and smooth Javy slide:

•   Mark Appel, perhaps known best for being one of the rare top overall picks who has not turned into a big leaguer (selected by the Astros before the Cubs took Kris Bryant), has become something of a very thoughtful advocate for minor leaguers over the years. He put together a long thread on Twitter about how to better care for minor leaguers – with an acknowledgement that he is one of the very fortunate few who got a huge bonus out of the draft – and it includes some really good stuff. Among his ideas, which are in many ways so obvious, and wouldn’t be THAT expensive compared to an organization’s overall budget:

•   If you missed it last night, Bryan dropped the first ten prospects in his Cubs rankings – starting right at the top:

•   It’s pretty hard to be the kind of highly-visible signing like he was and still be underrated, but I contend Alfonso Soriano was:

•   There were certainly down times, and the defense was uneven, but Soriano wound up hitting .263/.317/.497 (110 wRC+) over his years with the Cubs, and was worth 19.9 WAR (nearly 3 WAR per year). Walk-off grand slam, anyone:

•   The Cubs have an appropriately muscular new hire:

•   Ryan Zimmerman is officially retiring:

•   Zimmerman burned bright and quickly in his time with the Nationals, accumulating 24.1 of his 38.6 career WAR by his age 25 season, and 32.9 by 28.

•   Robo umps are coming to Triple-A this year, which puts them on the doorstep of the big leagues. Some robo considerations:

•   There are VERSIONS OF THIS that I think could be pretty cool down the road for fans:

•   People forget that:

•   The Blackhawks rumors are flying:

Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.