With injuries or ineffectiveness affecting Chicago Cubs pitchers like Jason Hammel, Tsuyoshi Wada, Travis Wood and Jacob Turner, there’s no doubt the pitching depth has been tested this year. Those issues have caused the front office to be on the lookout for controllable young arms on the trade market and one rumored name they are said to be targeting is Tyson Ross. Let’s take a closer look at what it may take to acquire him.
After general manager A.J. Preller gutted his farm system in an attempt to contend this year failed, reports have the Padres looking to trade the rest of their remaining assets to restock. Of their pitchers available, Tyson Ross may be the top prize as he is starting to establish himself as one of the more intriguing young players in the game. He has followed up his promising first full season by posting a 6-7 record, 3.38 ERA, 1.39 WHIP and 124 strikeouts in 117 innings and owns a career 3.52 ERA as a starter. The 6-foot-5, 230-pound right hander relies on a mix of a fastball in the 93-94 mph range, a sinker about a 1-2 mph slower than the fastball and an 86-87 mph slider that has more break to it than most. He uses the sinker and slider more than his fastball which has made him surprisingly more effective against left-handers. However, because Ross plays the majority of his games at PETCO Park, it’s notable to mention that his home ERA of 2.51 is about a run and a half lower than his away ERA of 4.22. He has fared well at Wrigley with a 2.63 ERA in three games, but that may be more due to a weak offense thanks to a rebuilding club over the past few years. Ross will not be a free agent until after the 2017, so if he were to be acquired, the Cubs would have two years of club control which will drive up his price.
In 2013, the Baltimore Orioles traded for Bud Norris of the Houston Astros for LHP Josh Hader, OF L.J. Hoes and a competitive balance type A draft pick. Like Ross, Norris had about two and a half years control remaining and toiled with the Astros with fairly solid numbers for a weak team. The Orioles on the other hand surprised everyone the season before by making the playoffs in a strong division. The acquisition of Norris added some much needed pitching depth and lengthened the rotation of an up and coming young team. Hader was a top 20 prospect to start the season, but a 2.65 ERA in High-A with a 90-plus fastball, curve and changeup with the potential to be above average put him in the top five prospect status mid-season. Hoes was a top seven prospect as a solid pure hitter with on-base ability, a little speed and nice line drive power with projection. The competitive balance pick slotted to be at the end of the first round, the pick plus the two pitchers ended up being a nice haul for Norris.
Another similar deal to Ross was the one that sent Ian Kennedy of the Arizona Diamondbacks to the San Diego Padres for LHP Joe Thatcher, RHP Matt Stites and a competitive balance type B draft pick. Kennedy had the same amount of control as Ross at the time of the trade. Also as a fly-ball pitcher who started to struggle in the thin air of Arizona, a move to a more pitcher-friendly stadium was a good gamble for the Padres. Thatcher, a seven-year veteran had been a very useful left-handed specialist with strikeout stuff and the ability to generate groundballs. Stites was just a top 30 prospect, but posted a 2.08 ERA in 52 innings with a low walk rate in AA. The draft pick as a type B slotted to be at the end of the second round. Overall, the value of the trade was lower than for Norris for an arguably better pitcher.
Taking both trades into consideration, the return for Ross has to be somewhere in the middle. With a high ranking farm system and the Padres probably looking for high impact prospects, the Cubs would likely have to offer a top seven and a couple of prospects in the 10 to 15 range as they would not have a competitive balance draft pick to offer. Names like Billy McKinney, Mark Zagunis or Carl Edwards Jr. could be the headliner while names like Albert Almora, Pierce Johnson, Jen-Ho Tseng, Carson Sands, Dan Vogelbach and Corey Black could fill out the deal.
A pitcher like Tyson Ross in the number four slot after Jon Lester, Jake Arrieta and Jason Hammel could make an imposing post-season rotation. With Ross not being a free agent until after the 2017 season, it gives some of the club’s young pitching prospect depth time to mature, while not weakening it at the Major League level. Pitching Coach Chris Bosio may be able to lessen the spike in Ross’ ERA from leaving PETCO Park and may unlock an even more consistent pitcher. Depending on the prospects leaving in the trade, Tyson Ross could be a nice addition to a Cubs team on the rise.
• Follow Chris on Twitter: @TheChrisKulawik
Player Acquisition Cost Reports:
- RHP Tyler Clippard
- INF/OF Ben Zobrist
- RHP Jonathan Papelbon
- LHP Cole Hamels
- LHP Oliver Perez
- LHP Scott Kazmir
- RHP Sonny Gray
- LHP Steven Matz
- RHP Tom Koehler
- OF Gerardo Parra
- RHP Dan Haren
- OF Will Venable