Ten years ago tomorrow, the Chicago Cubs made a trade with the Pittsburgh Pirates that would help propel them to their 2003 playoff run. That day the Cubs received Kenny Lofton and Aramis Ramirez for aging infielder Jose Hernandez, minor league pitcher Matt Bruback, and a player to be named later (who ended up being infielder Bobby Hill). That trade, in my opinion, is arguably the best trade in the franchise’s history. Even better than the 1984 trade that brought Rick Sutcliffe to Chicago, but only because they gave up future World Series hero Joe Carter to do it.
Today, the Cubs have made another deal that they hope can fulfill their future plans of a World Series championship. Earlier this afternoon, it was announced that they have traded starting pitcher Matt Garza to Texas for third baseman Mike Olt, pitchers C.J. Edwards and Justin Grimm, as well as a player to be named later.
Mike Olt and C.J. Edwards were both reported to be in the original trade for Garza, so I think it’s safe to say that neither of their medicals were the one in question.
Edwards and Grimm are both young starting pitchers with upside. Grimm has seen a lot of major league action this year due to an injury plagued starting rotation. In 17 starts this year, he has an even W-L record and an ERA of 6.37. Edwards was drafted in 2011, and has only reached Class-A ball. This year he has made 18 starts, and has an 8-2 record with an ERA of 1.83. In his professional career so far, his ERA is at just 1.68 in 32 appearances (31 of them starts). Grimm (24) and Edwards (21) are both prime examples of what the Cubs are trying to acquire through their trades this year. Both pitchers are young guys who project to do very well at the major league level, and can hopefully lead this team back to the top in the future.
Mike Olt (24), on the other hand, fills a different kind of need for the Cubs. The Cubs have many promising infield prospects including Javier Baez, Arismendy Alcantara (who homered in this year’s futures game), and Junior Lake (who recently made his major league debut), but none of those players have had a lot of professional experience playing third base. The third base position likely won’t be filled by a promising third baseman until their top draft pick Kris Bryant comes knocking.
Although they do have third baseman Josh Vitters at Triple-A Iowa, he doesn’t appear to be the guy who will solidify the third base position for the Cubs. To say that he under-performed in the big leagues last year would be an understatement. Olt didn’t do a whole lot with his big league time last year, but he still did better than Vitters. Not only that, but the ceiling for Olt is much greater than it is for Vitters.
This trade is definitely going to hurt the Cubs right now. Garza has been arguably the best pitcher in baseball the last month, and there isn’t a high quality starting pitcher waiting to replace him. The likely candidates to fill his rotation spot include lefties Chris Rusin and Brooks Raley (both with big league experience with the Cubs), and right-hander Jake Arrieta, who was acquired from Baltimore in the Scott Feldman deal. Hopefully though, these players will reach their potential and fulfill the organization’s plans of future glory.