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Tuesday, August 02, 2022

Cubs get RHP prospect from Phils for Robertson

The Cubs have acquired pitching prospect Ben Brown from the Phillies in exchange for veteran closer David Robertson, sources told MLB.com ahead of Tuesday’s 5 p.m. CT Trade Deadline.

A day after adding prospect Hayden Wesneski from the Yankees in a deal for reliever Scott Effross, Chicago landed a second starting pitching prospect in the 22-year-old Brown. The hard-throwing righty was ranked No. 26 on MLB Pipeline’s Top Phillies prospect list, but that was low given his showing this season and knowing the updated Pipeline rankings are coming later this month. Expect him to end up in the teens on the Cubs’ list, per MLB.com’s Jim Callis.

With High-A Jersey Shore this season, Brown posted a 3.08 ERA with 105 strikeouts against 23 walks in 73 innings (15 starts and one relief outing). The 6-foot-6 righty has a fastball that can touch 95-98 mph, plus a slider and curveball. He was a 33rd-round selection in the 2017 MLB Draft.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: August 02, 2022 at 04:29 PM | 17 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: cubs, david robertson, phillies

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   1. Brian C Posted: August 02, 2022 at 06:01 PM (#6089611)
So the Cubs get a guy in high-A that's been striking out everyone in sight, while also not walking a ton of guys. Seems as though he spent the lost 2020 season getting Tommy John surgery, so didn't play much last year, either. Basically he's the kind of low-minors, high-upside guy you'd expect to get for a guy like Robertson.

Presumably the Cubs send him right to AA and see what happens.
   2. Meatwad Posted: August 02, 2022 at 06:09 PM (#6089613)
Looks like the cubs only traded pitchers, no Happ or Contreras trades
   3. McCoy Posted: August 02, 2022 at 06:17 PM (#6089624)
I'd say they botched the situation with Happ and Contreras. I obviously don't know what was offered for either but I don't have much faith the draft pick for Conteras will translate into much and I think Happ is likely at his peak trade value.

Sure if he keeps it up he might fetch something good this off-season but the Cubs will be competing against FA and they're running the risk he slumps or gets hurt between now and then
   4. Banta Posted: August 02, 2022 at 06:24 PM (#6089627)
Yeah, I just said in the omnichatter, I’m disappointed the Mets didn’t fill their glaring catcher hole but I’m equally baffled that the Cubs didn’t trade Contreras at all. Sometimes when you play chicken, everyone loses.
   5. Walt Davis Posted: August 02, 2022 at 06:32 PM (#6089634)
Yeah, it's hard to believe that Contreras is still there. Even if other teams are down on his defense, most of them could use the bat ... give him 30 starts at C and 20 at DH down the stretch and you'll be pretty happy. Given Amaya's career seems completely sidetracked at this point, I wonder if the Cubs will try to sign Contreras. I wouldn't think so but I wasn't expecting Stroman or Suzuki last offseason and if the trade market for him was this light** then he might not command more than 3 years as an FA.

I agree Happ is at peak trade value but would guess Happ wasn't going to bring much in return anyway. It was just a couple of years ago when Schwarber, etc. were non-tendered and pretty cheaply available so that extra year of control with Happ isn't worth all that much -- he'll get $10-12 M next year which is where teams drew the line a couple of years ago.

MLB.com puts Brown at #25 in the Phils' system.

** Maybe the offers weren't light, maybe the Cubs wouldn't budge.

EDIT: MLB.com has dropped Amaya all the way down to #14 in the Cubs system. Pablo Aliendo, 21 at A+, #22 and Moises Ballestros, 18 at A, #28 are the other Cs on the list. No help on the way.
   6. Brian C Posted: August 02, 2022 at 06:43 PM (#6089639)
Cubs also trade Givens to the Mets for A-ball reliever Saul Gonzalez, in a deal that I am completely indifferent to. Might as well, I guess.
   7. Walt Davis Posted: August 02, 2022 at 06:48 PM (#6089642)
Yeah, Gonzalez doesn't seem to make the Mets top 30 at mlb.com.
   8. Brian C Posted: August 02, 2022 at 06:53 PM (#6089644)
And to be fair, I wouldn't expect Givens to fetch a top-30 return in the first place. He's had an OK season but is just not that useful of a guy - no really good bullpen is going to have him taking up a lot high-leverage innings, and even the most desperate contender isn't going to give up a meaningful prospect for a guy like that. So, whatever.
   9. Moses Taylor loves a good maim Posted: August 02, 2022 at 07:24 PM (#6089660)
I'm honestly torn on the non trades. I'm legit shocked they didn't trade Contreras, even if they thought offers were underwhelming they had to have at least one out there worth more than a comp pick. Willson has said all along he wants to stay here, I'm ok with that and maybe a 4 year deal isn't the worst thing in the world. Or he accepts the QO and we go thru this again next year.

I like Happ but have never really been sold on him. I'd rather have schwarber so I kinda do hope they move him in the off-season.

There was no way they'd be close to wild card competition next year if they traded both, so if they actually want to they could try to add enough if the off-season to get there, there are fewer holes than after last year IMO.
   10. Brian C Posted: August 02, 2022 at 08:00 PM (#6089676)
There was no way they'd be close to wild card competition next year if they traded both, so if they actually want to they could try to add enough if the off-season to get there, there are fewer holes than after last year IMO.

Agreed. The Cubs have put up a 99 team OPS+ despite giving a full quarter of the team's plate appearances to guys who aren't performing even close to replacement level offensively (Schwindel, Madrigal, Gomes, Simmons, Villar, Rivas - the high OPS+ among those guys is Frank's 82). They obviously still need at least one big impact bat, but just upgrading the "suck" part of their roster to "doesn't suck as bad" would go a long way, and it shouldn't really be that hard.

Pitching-wise ... still lots of holes, though. Thompson and Steele have been fine but hardly dominant, and jury's out whether we can depend on either one long- or even medium-term; basically I think they combine for one solid back-of-the-rotation guy going forward. I still think they need at least two frontline starters and maybe a third solid rotation guy, which is a big ask to come up with before next year.
   11. Walt Davis Posted: August 02, 2022 at 09:15 PM (#6089720)
#8: Completely agreed. I just had mlb.com's prospect page open so I thought I might as well check.

Another guy I'm surprised didn't get shipped out is Smyly. He wasn't gonna bring anything and he's been on and off the IL but a 95 ERA+. I guess his starts since coming back have been rough enough no contender saw him as a 5th starter upgrade.

Cubs next year ... I'm interested where they see Morel playing over the next couple of years. He's been fine at 2B. It was only 13 innings but I thought he looked fine at 3B too so him to 3B and Wisdom to 1B intrigues me. But he probably would do the most good in the short term at least if he could be the everyday CF. But I don't know if he has it in him and I'm always OK with leaving well enough alone.

As it stands without Contreras, big holes at C, 1B, CF and of course DH. It seems like it's been years since any team managed to fill their CF hole other than developing one or forcing some guy who should be in RF to play there. Velazquez has looked more comfy out there than Morel but I think that's just because he's been playing OF for a long time rather than he actually has the range for a good CF. So I'm going to assume that one can't really be solved.

I'm sure we could work a deal for Hosmer at 1B. :-) I'd kick the tires on JDM for DH but I think we'll find they're a bit deflated -- still if we could get a solid full-time DH (say 120 OPS+) then filling the 1B hole isn't such a big deal. I guess I could see the Cubs going for Josh Bell if they don't re-sign Contreras.

The rotation will be interesting. I can't be optimistic about Hendricks at the moment but Stroman and Thompson is a nice start, Steele has certainly been better than I was expecting (just based on him being a Cub rookie pitcher) so I'll be happy if Hendricks can be a steady #4/5 with Kilian et al battling for the 5th spot. On the one hand I think "don't sign another SP, you need to work out which of these young guys are good"; on the other hand I think "since when haven't there been enough starts and multi-inning relief to go around to seperate some wheat from some chaff, sign a good SP."

Not a lot of money coming off the books this year (about $25 M) but lots of payroll room if the Ricketts are tired of raking in so much profit (say what???). At most, Contreras and Bell or one of those guys and a $10-15 SP and some bullpen; more likely no more than 2 of Contreras/Bell/SP and I'm not sure we'll even see one of those moves.

Anyway, positives this year: Thompson, Steele, Morel, Wisdom, Hoerner, Velazquez so far ... with Stroman, Happ and Suzuki at least doing about what they should be doing. I'd explore a Hoerner buyout (appropriately priced, not extravagant) and see if I could sucker Morel into a "better than Bote but don't get carried away son" deal. (Assuming he had enough sense to turn that down, I'd come back with a real offer next year if he repeats.) To be clear, I don't expect Morel to be a star but I'm increasingly convinced he's at least a very useful rover who will always strike out too much but hit the ball hard.
   12. Walt Davis Posted: August 02, 2022 at 09:30 PM (#6089728)
Let me add ... I stumbled across something where the Cubs (not so) recently said that Brennen Davis's condition wasn't as bad as they'd thought and that he should be back on the field in Aug. I though they'd said he was going to have back surgery so I had written off all of this year and maybe his entire career. I'm not sure he was gonna stick in CF and that's even less likely now but even becoming the next Happ would be useful.

PCA is having some serious plate discipline issues at A+ but 18 XBH in 138 PA is intriguing. Hopefully he's our CF around 2024-25.
   13. Brian C Posted: August 02, 2022 at 11:01 PM (#6089755)
As it stands without Contreras, big holes at C, 1B, CF and of course DH.

I don't think DH is something the Cubs (or most teams) even think about, is it? Only a handful of teams have a full-time DH, and of those, only Ohtani and Martinez are really hitting well enough to justify a full-time DH role. For the most part, teams seem to prefer using the spot to give a regular a night off in the field or at least split time between defensive liabilities, which probably makes a lot more sense than trying to actually acquire a DH.

Which is mostly an indirect way of saying, just re-sign Contreras and be done with it. As I've said in other threads, his bat plays at both C and DH, so it's all good. Maybe if you sign him to a 4-year or 5-year deal, the last year or two are bad? But who cares. There's a pretty solid chance that his bat is still good enough then to split between DH and 1B and/or even LF, and if they're overpaying for that a little by 2026-27, that's hardly the end of the world.

There's way too much focus on "spending smart" but ultimately you have to risk some bad to get some good, otherwise "spending smart" is just an excuse to avoid spending altogether. There's just no reason for the Cubs not to get him signed other than them wanting to prove how brilliantly smart they are. Which would be a lot more convincing if they didn't currently suck major a-s.
   14. Moses Taylor loves a good maim Posted: August 03, 2022 at 12:49 PM (#6089845)
Let me add ... I stumbled across something where the Cubs (not so) recently said that Brennen Davis's condition wasn't as bad as they'd thought and that he should be back on the field in Aug. I though they'd said he was going to have back surgery so I had written off all of this year and maybe his entire career. I'm not sure he was gonna stick in CF and that's even less likely now but even becoming the next Happ would be useful.

Yes, I called that out in the other thread since it seemed you had missed it. I think coming into this year, the plan (hope) was he'd be in the bigs this year. He didn't hit, then got hurt, so I guess the plan just moved back a year. IIRC, he needs to go on the 40man this offseason anyway, but they probably won't plan on him being in the bigs until later in the year. PCA seems like the future CF (with the highest defensive upside), so not sure if they'll just move Davis to a corner when he comes back. Maybe they'll try to trade Happ this offseason if only to give guys like Valezquez, Crook, and maybe Alexander Canario reps in the OF to see if any of them are worth sticking with; at a minimum I doubt they're looking to lock up Happ long term with most of their better/higher ceiling prospects all being OFers and he's probably gone at midseason. Maybe they finally bite the bullet on DFA Heyward, or actually treat him like the 5th OF he is next year and make sure the young guys get the most PT.

That says nothing of Morel, who can play out there, but sounds like they'd rather have him in the IF. If they sign a big ticket FA, it likely would be an IF guy (like Correa, Boegarts, or Swanson); if they do that, they could assume 2b/ss/3b is covered by that guy with Morel/Nico taking the other 2 spots. Matt Mervis doesn't really show up on their prospect lists (like FG or MLB), but he seems like he's got a ton of power and has gone from A+ to AAA this year; he could be an option at 1b - though more along the lines of Rivas/Schwindel - maybe even sharing time with Wisdom there (I think it might be worth seeing him some this year just to see if you got anything there or not).

Which is mostly an indirect way of saying, just re-sign Contreras and be done with it. As I've said in other threads, his bat plays at both C and DH, so it's all good. Maybe if you sign him to a 4-year or 5-year deal, the last year or two are bad? But who cares. There's a pretty solid chance that his bat is still good enough then to split between DH and 1B and/or even LF, and if they're overpaying for that a little by 2026-27, that's hardly the end of the world.

I think I've come around to completely agreeing with this. Have Willson be the DH 50% of the time, and maybe even think of moving him to 1b long term (he's athletic enough). I think that's the best option available at the moment, and again that would leave fewer holes to try and fill.

---

Combining all of these thoughts could leave you with an team that kinda looks like this:
C: Gomes/Contreras
1b: Wisdom/Mervis
2b/SS/3b: Nico/Moral/FA TBD
OF: Suzuki/Happ?/Velaquez/Crook/Heyward?

They've shown some ability to build a bullpen, but the rotation might need the most work. What does Hendricks have left? Regardless, he'll get time to figure that out. I think you can pencil in Thompson, and then you have 2 more spots to fill - guys like Steele, Killian, and now Wesneski are guys who can try to earn spots/fill in as spot starters, but I think they could really use a top of rotation guy - not sure if there's anyone out there in FA (will Rodon opt out?).

Even if the Cubs signed the best FA SP and SS, they wouldn't be projected favored for a WC spot because there's still too much unknown with various young guys, but at least it's getting closer to looking like a real team.
   15. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: August 03, 2022 at 03:58 PM (#6089880)
I think you can pencil in Thompson, and then you have 2 more spots to fill - guys like Steele, Killian, and now Wesneski are guys who can try to earn spots/fill in as spot starters, but I think they could really use a top of rotation guy - not sure if there's anyone out there in FA (will Rodon opt out?).
Not that he's a top of rotation guy, but Stroman is signed for next year with a player option for 2024.
   16. Moses Taylor loves a good maim Posted: August 03, 2022 at 04:36 PM (#6089889)
Sorry, didn't mention him specifically, but yes, him/Hendricks/Thompson are the 3 guys in the rotation for now. I would like another guy at least as good as Stroman in FA, is what I'm saying.
   17. Walt Davis Posted: August 03, 2022 at 05:11 PM (#6089894)
#13 ... sure, DH is not a role in the traditional sense on most teams. That might change now that it's universal although I don't necessarily expect it to. The 26th man also takes away some of the negative of carrying a full-time DH and the universal DH reduces the offensive level necessary to hold down the full-time role.

Really you can just substitute "bat." If your starting OF and 1B aren't big bats then your 4th OF is presumably pretty bad and your bench IF/OF guy probably isn't a big bat and you need a bat. The DH allows you to not care very much whether that bat can play the field. Mancini is a guy I could see in a 2023 Cubs uni (probably more likely than Bell) ... and he'd probably get some OF, 1B and DH time but we know he's really a DH first kinda player. (He might be a better 1B/OF than I give him credit for.) For example, this year he's had 51 starts at DH, 27 at 1B and 13 in the OF. But if you think JDM will hit as well as Mancini, then they're pretty much equal players.

Basically -- if you get a 1B bat then you don't need a "DH." Or if you find a pretty good CF so Velazquez is in a LF/RF/DH/CF rotation then you don't need a "DH." If you can't find a 1B bat or a bigger corner OF bat and you don't trade Happ, then just find a bat. If you can find two bats and stick one at 1B all the better.

I agree that Contreras might be the most obvious fit and I'd be OK with Contreras as the main 2024-25 1B option. But if some team offers him Realmuto money (5/$115) then I'm not sure that's a good move ... and I'd be pretty sure the Ricketts don't want to do that deal. The impression I get is that Contreras is not looking at that kind of deal though.

EDIT: That said I will pose the question/semi-assertion: wouldn't a team rather have Contreras over the next 4-5 years than Schwarber or Castellanos?

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