Since the switch flipped to sell mode this week – albeit only in my opinion, rather than in any actual Cubs messaging or activity (yet) – it was appropriate timing for MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand to name drop a Chicago Cubs player among his “potential trade chips who’ve gotten hot.”
If you didn’t see the headline or picture for this post, you almost certainly would’ve assumed Feinsand was talking about several other Cubs players and not the guy he actually mentioned. But it’s definitely an interesting mention:
Julian Merryweather, RHP, Cubs
Following a rough April, Merryweather has been very effective recently, posting a 1.32 ERA with 20 strikeouts over 13 2/3 innings. The 31-year-old is under club control for three more years, but just as the Cubs dealt Scott Effross a year ago, Chicago could take advantage of the relief market if Merryweather continues to pitch well.
Kinda wild to see Merryweather mentioned among a group of eight names that also includes guys like Michael Kopech, Jeimer Candelario, and Alexis Diaz.
It wasn’t even really a “rough April” for Julian Merryweather – it was one really bad outing. The first outing of the year. Since that one single day against the Brewers, Merryweather has posted a 2.10 ERA over 25.2 innings, with a 33.6% strikeout rate and a 9.3% BB rate. The batted ball quality is also very good, and he’s been trusted for a while now in high-leverage. Moreover, the raw pitch quality has always been good. It’s just that Merryweather couldn’t stay consistently healthy enough to tap into his upside.
I think the Effross situation is worth mentioning, as Feinsand did, in terms of it being a cost-controlled reliever who has broken out a bit and whom the Cubs could trade. The thinking is that the Cubs would be trading a reliever at the height of his value, even though he’s a guy they could “use” in the years ahead. Not every sell trade involves a rental, especially if you think you can replace the cost-controlled player internally.
But I think the parallels probably stop there, and those differences are worth highlighting, lest anyone start thinking the Cubs could net another Wesneski.
Effross, who was several years younger than Merryweather is now, did not have an extensive injury history. Nor had he been up and down a bit trying to establish himself in the big leagues. He’d gotten a cup of coffee the year before, looked very good in doing so, and was immediately a staple part of the Cubs’ bullpen the next season. Effross also came with three minor league option years and under a year of service time, which meant two pre-arbitration years of control. Merryweather is out of minor league options and has over two years of service time, with just three arbitration years of control after this season.
I do agree that Merryweather may have some real trade value this year, but Effross clearly had much more. So keep any expectations in check.
A side point to make: almost everything you could say about Merryweather and a trade, you could also say about Mark Leiter Jr. and a trade. They’re even just about the same age and have the same service time. So if Julian Merryweather winds up a trade candidate for the Cubs, Leiter surely will be, too.