DENVER — The Cubs have picked a new lane, and with their decision to have a massive fire sale at the trade deadline, they’ve added to their farm system and major-league roster.
Cubs president Jed Hoyer admitted there was no reason to go halfway after the season spiraled to the point of no return.
The moves show that.
The Cubs traded Kris Bryant (Giants), Javy Baez (Mets), Anthony Rizzo (Yankees), Trevor Williams (Mets), Joc Pederson (Braves), Andrew Chafin (Athletics), Jake Marisnick (Padres), Craig Kimbrel and Ryan Tepera (White Sox) and received 12 players in return.
No one knows if all of the players the Cubs acquired will help their next postseason contender, but there are a few names that stand out.
Here’s a look at three intriguing players from the Cubs’ return at the trade deadline:
CF Pete Crow-Armstrong
Pete Crow-Armstrong was one of the most coveted prep bats in the 2020 MLB Draft. Despite the draft being shortened to five rounds because of the pandemic, the five-tool Crow-Armstrong remained a highly sought after player, leading the Mets to draft him as the 19th pick in the first round.
He was off to a fast start to his professional career in 2021, slashing .417/.563/.500 in six games for Low-A St. Lucie before he suffered a GLAD (glenoid labral articular disruption) lesion in his non-throwing shoulder, requiring season-ending surgery.
“He’s a plus center fielder and a very good bet to stick in center field,” a National League talent evaluator told the Sun-Times. “Instincts and jumps stand out more than the arm. Scouts are split on whether power comes, but he should have enough OBP to keep the overall offensive profile above water.”
Obviously, not having two seasons of development (COVID-19 and shoulder surgery) is less than ideal. Still just 19 years old, there’s no rush for Crow-Armstrong to be in Chicago anytime soon. But there’s no doubt the Cubs are hoping he bounces back sooner rather than later and his potential starts to show.
2B Nick Madrigal
Nick Madrigal and Codi Heuer, who were acquired from the White Sox in the Kimbrel trade, are the two players who will impact the roster the soonest. Madrigal has been one of baseball’s best prospects for the last several seasons, and after getting his first taste of the big leagues during last year’s 60-game season, he began showing what he really could do in 2021.
Madrigal was slashing .305/.349/.425 with 10 doubles, four triples and two home runs in 54 games before undergoing surgery in June to repair proximal tendon tears in his right hamstring.
“To get a player like Nick Madrigal, he just really fits what we’re trying to do going forward really well,” Hoyer said. “I love how he plays the game. I’ve loved how he played the game since college, and I was envious of the White Sox to get a player like that that fits so well with their boppers in the middle of the lineup.”
The 24-year-old second baseman has been touted as an elite defender but has struggled at times during his brief time in the big leagues. His baserunning also has left a lot to be desired.
RHP Codi Heuer
The Cubs see Heuer as one of their high-leverage arms of the future. He threw two scoreless innings in relief in Washington over the weekend.
The right-hander, who has elite stuff, features an upper 90s fastball with a wipeout slider. With the Cubs dealing Kimbrel, Chafin and Tepera at the deadline, the young right-hander will get every opportunity at the back end of the bullpen.
“There’s gonna be a lot of high-leverage situations just like I’ve been doing in the past,” Heuer said. “I think the bullpen is gonna find a lot of their roles. So we’re gonna see how that goes here in the upcoming games.”
Heuer has struggled this season, with a 5.12 ERA in 40 appearances. The Cubs feel they can make some small adjustments to get him back on track. Don’t be surprised if he’s closing games by the end of the season.
“I feel like he’s probably our most dominant right-handed pitcher down there vs. righties,” manager David Ross said. “If we can slot him into the right spot at the back end, I don’t see why it’s not the ninth. But I’m not going to save him for just the closer role.”