How Have Chicago Cubs Four Deadline Trades Gone So Far?

It’s truly random to check in on this today, but a combination of things got me thinking about the topic lately – Hayden Wesneski coming up to Chicago, Kervin Castro (a deadline waiver claim) getting DFA’d, Scott Effross being out, and this happening to David Robertson:

That was Robertson’s 41st pitch of the outing, which just seems nuts to me. You’re begging for an outcome like that, Phillies.

So, anyway, I was curious to do a month-ish-later check-in on the Cubs’ four deadline trades. How are the former Cubs doing? How are the trade returns doing?

RHP Chris Martin for UTL Zach McKinstry

The first of the trades, Chris Martin’s peripherals were looking fantastic before the Cubs moved him, and sure enough that continued with the Dodgers. He’s getting the results to match, and through his first 14 appearances (13.1 innings), he’s been everything Dodgers could’ve hoped. He literally hasn’t even walked a single batter yet, and he’s still striking out 32.0% of them!

I understand WHY the Cubs went for a guy like Zach McKinstry in the deal, because he is just as likely to contribute as the kind of A-ball fringe prospect they otherwise would have gotten. Maybe McKinstry just needed regular playing time. Maybe his utility value creates such a floor that you’re going to love to have him on your bench even if he’s not really hitting. Etc., etc.

Through a month+, however, that has super not played out. Hitting just .187/.238/.280/45 wRC+ through his first 80 PAs with the Cubs, I haven’t really seen a lot to hang a hat on. The contact quality has been terrible, so it’s not even like you could suggest he’s been unlucky. He’s basically played only 2B and 3B for the Cubs, mixing some great plays with some head-scratchers.

A month ago I would’ve said it would be difficult for McKinstry to play himself into becoming a possible 40-man roster casualty, but he’s surprisingly on his way. Absent a baller final month to the season, in fact, I might have a tough time arguing that he should keep a 40-man spot over an extra prospect to protect from the Rule 5 draft.

In other words, while the stakes in a trade like this are so low that you can’t tear your hair out no matter what, this one has gone about as badly as possible through one month.

RHP Scott Effross for RHP Hayden Wesneski

Effross, who’d been in HEAVY usage for the Cubs, immediately slotted into HEAVY usage for the Yankees, throwing 8.1 innings over 8 appearances in his first 18 days with the team. The performance was OK, if not quite the dominant run he had with the Cubs (3.24 ERA, 3.47 FIP) … but then he went on the IL with a shoulder strain. Was it the heavy usage with the Cubs? With the Yankees? Both? Neither? Can’t know for sure, but I know that if I were a Yankees fan, I’d be pretty concerned about it happening almost immediately (Cubs fans have been on the other side of that coin).

As for Wesneski, he had a implosive debut in the Cubs’ farm system – life adjustment and all that, I suppose – but has been dominant at Iowa ever since. And now he’s coming up to the big league team today. The idea was to swap a long-term, team-controlled excellent reliever for a long-term, team-controlled solid starting pitcher. So we’ll see over time.

David Robertson for Ben Brown

Robertson had been excellent for the Phillies before that dinger, posting a 1.54 ERA and 3.03 FIP with his new team. Now it’s 2.70 and 3.86. Still not bad or anything, but the sample is small enough that one really bad outing – even if foisted upon him by the team (seriously, 41 pitches?!) – can skew the results. I expect the Phillies have mostly gotten what they hoped to get so far.

Ben Brown has a 4.50 ERA so far at Double-A with the Cubs (it was a level promotion for him, too), but a 3.50 FIP thanks to excellent peripherals. At a scouting level, Brown has looked every bit the high-upside starting prospect the Cubs hoped he could be. It’s early – just five starts – but this is a 22-year-old who was coming back from Tommy John surgery, so it was definitely an opportunity for the Cubs to land a scouting and development win. So far, so good.

Mychal Givens for Saul Gonzalez

I do not feel the tiniest bit bad for the Mets on this one, though I do feel bad for Mychal Givens, who has been a disaster since the trade (7.07 ERA, peripherals terrible, relegated to middle relief and mop up duty). Givens was a fine acquisition on paper, but the Mets should’ve done much more. They were cowards, and now they can pay for it.

As for Gonzalez, 22, he’s more or less been the same as he was with the Mets, pitching to meh results at Low-A, albeit with a lot more walks (Cubs tinkering, perhaps?). He’s a scout’s dream as a 6’7″ beast of a man, but it’s a developmental project for sure. He’s been going three-ish innings for the Cubs, though, which I suppose is interesting. Seeing if there’s a starter there for next year?

Anyway, you weren’t going to get much more for Givens, and nothing in the past month changes the thinking on Gonzalez one way or another. Pretty standard reliever trade at the deadline, where you can get a guy like Gonzalez or a guy like McKinstry.

written by

Brett Taylor is the Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and on LinkedIn here. Brett is also the founder of Bleacher Nation, which opened up shop in 2008 as an independent blog about the Chicago Cubs. Later growing to incorporate coverage of other Chicago sports, Bleacher Nation is now one of the largest regional sports blogs on the web.

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