The Cubs are Stockpiling Talent and Other News and Rumors

Many are using the world “haul” when describing what the Cubs received from the Texas Rangers for Matt Garza. The Cubs acquired 3B Mike Olt, RHP Justin Grimm, RHP C.J. Edwards and either a player to be named later if they choose to take RHP Neil Ramirez or two players to be named later from a pool of players the two teams agreed to as part of the trade.

All three players the Cubs received in the deal were ranked among the top 15 prospects in the Rangers system by Baseball America (2013 Prospect Handbook). Mike Olt (2), Justin Grimm (5) and C.J. Edwards (14) were ranked toward the top of what is considered a deep system and Neil Ramirez (23) made the top 25.

The general feeling is that the Cubs received a very good package of prospects for what is seen as a two and a half month rental of Matt Garza. In reality it will take two to three years to determine whether or not this turns out to be a good trade for the Cubs. But on paper this appears to be a good deal. The Cubs have added inventory to their system with their fifth trade of the month.

Jed Hoyer admitted the Cubs have been trying to acquire Mike Olt since last year at the trade deadline. Mike Olt and Justin Grimm have been assigned to Triple-A Iowa and C.J. Edwards has been assigned to the Daytona Cubs. Olt is expected to be the I-Cubs everyday third baseman and Josh Vitters will see time at first base and in the outfield. Vitters career seems to be taking the same path as Jeff Baker.

Where will Kris Bryant play was the first question that popped up after the trade was announced. And wouldn’t it be a good problem if both Mike Olt and Kris Bryant turn out to be the players the Cubs project them to be? The front office’s goal is to build a deep farm system so they are not relying on a handful of players to fulfill their projections in order for the organization to be successful. Inventory and talent is a great combination and can be used to add a player or a pitcher, like a Matt Garza, in order to make a push for a division title or the post-season.

The Cubs have turned three short term pieces in Matt Garza, Scott Feldman and Scott Hairston plus Steve Clevenger and a PTBNL into long-term assets … Pedro Strop, Jake Arrieta, Ivan Pineyro, Mike Olt, Justin Grimm, C.J. Edwards, international slot money and as many as three players to be named later.

Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez

According to a report from Jesse Sanchez, Cuban RHP Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez has narrowed his field to five teams and he could sign with a team in the next few days.

The Cubs are one of many teams thought to have serious interest in signing Gonzalez. Other teams include the Blue Jays, Braves, Dodgers, Marlins, Phillies, Rangers, Red Sox, Twins and Yankees.

Gonzalez’s price tag has increased according to Jesse Sanchez. A report from Peter Gammons on Sunday pointed toward a possible five-year, $50 million deal.

Jesse Sanchez reported early Tuesday morning that the Dodgers are not interested in signing Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez.

Scouting Reports

Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus posted scouting reports on the three players the Cubs received for Matt Garza … and BP’s Jason Parks really likes what the Cubs are doing with the system. Parks would not rank Mike Olt in the top five in the system due to the impact talent that has been added over the last two-plus years. And Parks thinks the Cubs now have eight of the top 101 prospects in the game.


Baseball America Scouting Reports

Mike Olt: Don’t read too much into Olt’s overall batting line at Triple-A. He entered the season ranked as the No. 22 prospect in the game, but after struggling out of the gate with vision problems, he redeemed himself by batting .247/.353/.506 with 10 homers in 158 at-bats since returning to Round Rock on June 3. Strikeouts will be a permanent fixture of Olt’s game, but that will be an acceptable tradeoff for his plus power production. He led the Texas League in home runs (28) and slugging (.579) in 2012, but he’s more than just a one-trick pony. Scouts rave about his agility, sure-handedness and arm strength at third base, and he forces pitchers to throw him strikes with a disciplined hitting approach—his strikeout-to-walk ratio was about 2-to-1 since June. Olt represents a good buy-low option for the Cubs, and his acquisition could directly influence the futures of Kris Bryant (2103) and Javier Baez (2011), two of the organization’s recent first-round picks.

Justin Grimm: One of three rookies in the Rangers rotation at the time of the trade, along with Nick Tepesch and Martin Perez, Grimm had fallen on hard times of late, running up an 11.91 ERA over his past three starts while allowing 23 hits in 11 1/3 innings. Grimm’s fastball sits at 91-92 mph and must be located down because he doesn’t have much life on the pitch or deception in his delivery. He throws a sharp, high-70s curveball as his primary out-pitch, though his changeup and slider have made strides and project as average. Grimm competes and throws strikes, with many scouts seeing him as a mid-rotation arm. The Cubs can afford to throttle back the pressure and, if they so choose, allow their new acquisition to sort out his repertoire in Triple-A for a few weeks.

C.J. Edwards: A 48th-round pick in 2011, Edwards may be the best scouting and player-development story in the minors. Little-scouted in high school, he thrived under professional tutelage, rapidly streamlining his delivery and adding velocity during his 2012 debut in short-season ball, where he ranked among the top 10 prospects in both the Arizona and Northwest leagues. Edwards sits in the low- to mid-90s and imparts a natural cutting action on the ball due to the unique nature of his finger position and arm slot. At the time of the trade, he led the South Atlantic League in ERA (1.83) and strikeouts (122) while not allowing a home run in 18 starts, which is more impressive than it sounds give Hickory’s home park. Edwards must continue to stay on top of a solid breaking ball and fringy changeup, but his athleticism and aptitude argue well for continued refinement.

News and Notes

The Cubs did not send any cash to the Rangers in the Matt Garza trade.

According to a report from Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News, the Cubs had to accept Justin Grimm instead of Roughned Odor after the Rangers raised issue’s about Garza’s elbow.

Chris Rusin will be given an opportunity to remain in the Cubs’ rotation.

RHP Henry Rodriguez accepted his assignment to the Iowa Cubs and has reported to the team.

C.J. Edwards was assigned to the Daytona Cubs and will be inserted into the D-Cubs rotation.

Jake Arrieta could make his Cubs’ debut on July 30 in one of the two games against the Brewers. The Cubs and Brewers play a day-night doubleheader and the Cubs can add a 26th player to the active roster for the day. The first of two next Tuesday is the makeup from the game rained out on April 10.

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  • triple

    I really love what the Garza trade does for this Cubs organization from top to bottom. Especially with the addition of Olt, there is some more added pressure due to competition between our highly (and not-so-highly) touted prospects in our system. If Olt can prove that he belongs with the big league club in September, and furthermore, into next season, it allows for so many options of moves to happen within the organization.

    On the big league level, it can impact who holds down the fort for now at 2nd base (and maybe even shortstop). Valbuena or Barney? Barney’s the better defender, but Valbuena has proven to be more than capable defensively at 3rd base, but he did begin his MLB career as a 2nd basemen, as that’s the position he played most in the minors. Why may Valbuena gain the advantage to playing 2nd next year? OPS. We all know that the FO wants guys who get good at bats and earn their way on base and Sveum is always preaching getting good swings on the ball and higher slugging percentage. Valbuena has the advantage, .748 to .622. Is this great for a 2nd basemen? No, but it’s an improvement until Baez or Alcantara can earn their way to a big league promotion at 2nd base. Or maybe Castro is moved to 2nd to make room for either of the aforementioned prospects. I believe Castro has turned the corner and is back on the right track, but it doesn’t hurt for anyone, no matter how much $ they make to know that they are replaceable.

    Olt or Bryant at 3rd? Olt has got to be closer to ready, but Bryant can’t be that far behind. But the nice thing is that if Olt can fill the position next season, then there is no rush to get Bryant to the big leagues so fast . Olt is the better defender, but who really knows what Bryant is capable of. If Bryant’s bat is as good as we think, he will have a position at either 1st, 3rd, or an OF corner spot. This means that Rizzo might have some competition for playing time another year down the road if he’s not performing to expectations.

    So for the future of this infield, there’s some combination of Valbuena, Barney, Castro, Rizzo, Olt, Alcantara, Baez, and Bryant. And I think we’re all sure that Valbuena and Barney won’t be starters on this team past 2014. I’d have to think that Valbuena, Barney, Castro, and Rizzo will all be feeling the pressure to perform or be delegated to a backup role or trade bait.

    On another note, it is great to see the start that Junior Lake is getting to his career. Hopefully he can make DeJesus even more expendable than we think he is right now. Gotta love a guy that can hit a 400+ foot HR and get 2 bunt singes in the same game. And I like the look of intensity and awareness he shows on the basepads; he is ready for anything out there. I think he just needs to learn to be a little more in control of himself so he doesn’t make too many mistakes.

    • DWalker

      Honestly? Someones going to be traded in the next year and a half would be my guess. The system, compared to a year and a half ago, is full of interesting guys other clubs would be interested in. Without trades, theres an entire turn over of everyone but Castro and Rizzo as a prospect (reality will be not that as trades are made and prospects fail). We even have a couple of pitchers who are interesting and might even grow into top of rotation level guys even if not true aces. And strangly, starting pitching has been a real strong suit for this club lately (aside from last years #5 slot). The pen is looking a lot better both short term and even long term with the prospects in the system. The one area of real need is catcher, a good catcher won’t be cheap, but looking forward thats a huge question mark on impact talent.
      My first inclination with Lake is “thats nice, lets see you in a year”, but after last nights game, I gotta admit, he might just be the super sub we all hope for. two bunts and a homer, thats the type of thing that keeps everyone guessing and he has enough speed and base stealing threat to put pitchers off their game. maybe not as much as a certain scrappy former cub who struggled to get on base, but enough to make things happen. If nothing else right now, he’s fun to watch.

      • 07GreyDigger

        I agree. Part of acquiring all this talent is to acquire better names. This is isn’t a full on rebuild really. A lot of the names we’ve been hearing will be flipped to get a quality young star.

        • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

          I agree. I don’t see Castro being around for the long haul. If he can get back to all-star form he may go for some stud pitching. Or, since he’s locked up under a team friendly contract they may keep him but my gut tells me that he isn’t the type of guy they want long-term. Not enough defense and not enough OBP.

          • triple

            Yeah, some of these guys will end up being trade pieces for sure. But I will say that Castro has proved to have staying power, and until guys like Baez, Alcantara, Torres, or anybody who can play the middle IF positions proves they can do what he does and better, I don’t even see Theo as being in a rush to move Castro.

            In the last 22 games he’s batting .316 w/ a .350 OBP. Any team would be happy to find a spot in their lineup for a guy like that, free swinger or not. And if he really has learned from this prolonged slump, he will come out a much better player than he’s been in the end.

            If anything, he’s learning not to take what he’s achieved for granted, and that humility can bring a talented young guy like him a long way…

    • mutantbeast

      right now, Valbuenna has more value. Barney will never hit enough to be a prime-timer on a ML club.

  • DWalker

    Grimm this years Wood?

  • TrevorPetersma

    How long do the Cubs have to make the decision on the PTBNL(s) from the Garza trade?

    • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

      Those are usually decided and announced after the regular season is over.