Late Sunday night, Theo & Co. completed yet another trade to improve the Major League squad in preparations for a Postseason run. After filling a huge need for a top of the rotation starter with the acquisition of Jose Quintana, there were two more items to check off the front office’s wish list for the 2017 trade season.
Those two items were a lefty reliever that can be plugged into high leverage situations and a backup catcher to give rising superstar Willson Contreras a day off here or there or to have in case of an injury. After trading for Justin Wilson and Alex Avila, you could say that the front office has done everything they needed to do this trade deadline.
The official trade comes in the form of LHP Justin Wilson and C Alex Avila coming over to the Cubs in exchange for INF Jeimer Candelario, INF Isaac Paredes, and a PTBNL or cash.
Justin Wilson is locked down under team control through the 2018 season, so this is not a rental deal. He is putting together what looks to be his fifth straight successful season out of the bullpen. His 2017 stat line currently reads:
40.1 IP, 2.68 ERA, 3.22 FIP, 0.94 WHIP, .156 BAA, 35.0% K, 10.2% BB, 0.9 fWAR
Pair this terrific state line with a career 3.4 fWAR before this season, and Wilson has shown that he can succeed in a Major League bullpen. A lefty who has been closing down games this year for the Tigers, he could also be in line to close next year for the Cubs if the team is unable to reach a deal to resign Wade Davis.
For now, this trade seemingly just pushes back the entire bullpen a slot. This could make Justin Grimm the odd man out back to Iowa. The other thing this trade allows for is a move for Mike Montgomery back to the rotation if John Lackey continues with his rough season. The acquisition of Wilson puts another lefty in the pen and makes Monty being out there not nearly as necessary.
The other return in the trade was veteran catcher Alex Avila. Avila will serve as the backup to Willson Contreras the rest of this season before becoming a free agent this upcoming offseason.
Avila is putting together his best season at the plate since his All-Star year of 2011. His stat line reads:
264 PA, .274/.394/.475/.869, 11 HR, 30.3% K, 16.3% BB, 134 wRC+, 1.1 fWAR
While he has been very successful as a starter in Detroit, don’t expect him to get significant playing time in Chicago. This is strictly an insurance move for the Cubs and they got a good one, as Avila serves as a nice veteran presence in the clubhouse in addition to his on-field talents.
The rub to this whole deal is that the Cubs lose their top prospect (he was only the top prospect since the trade of Eloy Jimenez) in Jeimer Candelario as well as up-and-coming prospect Isaac Paredes.
Here at Out of the Vines and just about everywhere else, we know just about all there is to know about the Candy Man. He has seen stints of time in Chicago and as a third baseman who can also play first, he was completely blocked of any significant playing time. We knew the Candelario trade was going to happen this season, and now it is complete. Hopefully he will be able to flourish as a full-time player in the Motor City.
Isaac Paredes is an interesting return for the Tigers. The 18 year old shortstop was just starting to really hit his stride as a prospect in South Bend. After putting up more successful numbers than Gleyber Torres, at an even younger age no less, he was set to make an appearance pretty high on my upcoming prospect rankings (he was going to be number two for position players, don’t tell).
As an 18 year old shortstop at low-A ball, Paredes could end up being an absolute steal for Detroit in this trade if he really starts to explode. But then again, he could also stall out and being a throw-in for this deal.
When it comes down to it, the Cubs have filled all their needs this trade season and they have done it without having to compromise any of their talent currently on the Major League roster. With all of those needs now filled, I don’t expect Theo to pull the trigger on anymore trades this season so Happ, Baez, Schwarber, and Almora can rest easy on the North Side.