I am speechless. There was just no way I saw the Cubs moving righty Scott Effross this deadline, given how good he is, how he’s still pre-arbitration, and how many other short-term arms they could move.
But apparently it’s happening. The Cubs are trading Effross to the Yankees:
Effross, 28, has a 2.66 ERA and 2.19 FIP this year over 44.0 innings, pitching in a variety of relief roles, from a late-inning guy to an opener to a bridge guy. He’s been a stud. I’m just shocked, and the return better be SUBSTANTIAL.
UPDATE: Here’s the return, and I’ll be evaluating momentarily, because I’m not immediately familiar:
UPDATE 2: The rankings on Wesneski range from 19th in the Yankees’ system in the pre-season FanGraphs rankings, all the way up to 4th in the Yankees’ system in the midseason updated Baseball America rankings. MLB Pipeline’s rankings, which are only semi-updated at midseason, have him 7th. On paper, this is a pretty substantial get for a non-closing relief pitcher, I will admit. Still jarred by this.
Wesneski, 24, was the Yankees’ 6th rounder in 2019, and he must be a very polished type, because he reached Triple-A in 2021, which was only his first full pro season. Back at Triple-A this year, he’s posted a 3.51 ERA (4.00 FIP) over 19 starts and 89.2 innings. It looks like it’s been more of a command/control/contact management profile, but apparently there’s upside there.
Here’s how BA describes him:
Wesneski works with a five-pitch arsenal of four- and two-seam fastballs, a slider, a changeup and a newly added cutter. The four-seamer, which parks in the mid 90s and has peaked at 99 mph with heavy sinking life. His slider has shorter, sweepier break, while his curveball is potentially plus and acts more like a powerful slurve with horizontal and vertical break. His changeup is a potentially average pitch and is thrown in the low 80s. Wesneski’s delivery features a deep shoulder load, a three-quarters slot and a wider release point. Some scouts believe he’ll have to improve his direction to the plate in order to help his stuff maintain its consistency.
And here’s Pipeline:
Wesneski featured some of the best sink in the 2019 Draft, and he since has boosted the velocity on his two-seam fastball to where it now sits at 92-94 mph. He’s also added a four-seamer that can reach 98. He has upgraded his low-80s slider as well, adding more sweep that gets a lot of swings and misses by playing well off his sinker, which moves in the opposite direction. He can turn his slider into a harder cutter and is making progress with his fading low-80s changeup — two pitches that could increase his effectiveness against left-handers.
Wesneski pounded the strike zone throughout his college career and has continued to do so in pro ball, even as his stuff has made a leap forward. He’s deceptive, too, and hitters don’t get good swings against him and struggle to lift the ball when they do make contact. The Yankees love his competitive demeanor and believe he’ll help them in the big leagues in the near future.
The Cubs love to work with guys who have the theoretical arsenals to be more than a contact-manager, but haven’t unlocked it. This is a big-time scouting play by the Cubs on a guy they must see as part of their near-term rotation, and decided it was worth losing Effross – and his multiple years of likely success – to take the chance.
UPDATE 3: Ah, yes. I forgot, but was reminded: Daniel Moskos, the Cubs’ assistant pitching coach, was poached from the Yankees over the offseason. With the Yankees, Moskos was the Double-A pitching coach and was seen as a big part of their pitching development infrastructure. At Double-A, he would have worked, personally, with Wesneski. Gonna guess that he’s a big fan and thinks there’s more to unlock.
UPDATE 4: It’s official:
Park this one, at least as far as “immediate reactions” go under: I hate it at a personal level, but I can see what the Cubs are doing. They developed an impact reliever – something they think they can do consistently – and flipped him for a true starting pitching prospect who is just about ready for the big leagues.
I get it. I just liked Effross a lot, and I loved his story. I guess he gets to be on a big stage now and go to the postseason. Good for him.
As for Wesneski, he’s Rule 5 eligible after the season, so the Cubs very well might call him up down the stretch to get some big league exposure.