While the Cubs were getting knocked around by the Rays and the rain tonight, they were also pulling off a surprising trade.
Former top prospect/Braves pitcher Sean Newcomb is coming to the Cubs, and Jesse Chavez is heading back to the Braves:
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) April 21, 2022
Well this is unusual timing for a trade! There was a DFA involved, so that’s why it had to play out now, but you don’t usually see these deals involving multiple big league players in mid-April.
Newcomb, 28, was designated for assignment this weekend by the Braves, so that’s what would’ve gotten this started. And as the Cubs were likely looking for another lefty in their bullpen anyway, they probably figured, hey, what the heck, why not us be the team that tries to reclaim him and give that change-of-scenery?
That part totally makes sense to me. It’s very Cubs MO. As for why it’s Chavez going back to the Braves in return (with some cash to probably balance out the salaries), well, he was getting hit HARD with the Cubs, and he had so much success with the Braves last year. Maybe he was happy to go back (I believe recently-signed free agents have to consent to a trade before June). Also, with the coming roster crunch (from 28 back down to 26, plus the returns of Wade Miley and Alec Mills), I’m not sure Chavez was long for this roster anyway.
We’ll dig in more on Newcomb soon, but the short version is that he’s out of minor league options, so the Cubs are going to roster him this week (unless they now try to DFA him and get him through waivers, but that’d be a bit of an odd turn). In his younger days, Newcomb was looking like a potential future star with the Braves, but he started getting wilder and wilder the last three years and got hit harder and harder. Plus the walks went crazy.
He still throws really hard, had some success in relief as recently as 2021 (by the peripherals, at least), and I’m sure the bones are there for an impactful pitcher (he hasn’t been a full-time starter since 2018, by the way). But it’d be quite a turnaround if the Cubs can get something out of him. It’s certainly the year to try.
I’m kinda hoping the Cubs already had scouting on Newcomb that they knew exactly what they would want to do with him if they managed to land him. More soon.