With rumors swirling that the Cubs were working on a major deal between themselves and the San Diego Padres for RHP Tyson Ross and RHP Craig Kimbrel, the club opted at the deadline to deal instead for RHP Tommy Hunter of the Baltimore Orioles to shore up the bullpen.
Let’s take a look at who Tommy Hunter is and what he brings to the table.
Just as in the Dan Haren acquisition, Hunter is a rental and was not one of the big names on the market. And truth be told, most fans probably haven’t even heard of him.
Tommy Hunter was originally drafted by the Texas Rangers as a starter, but has fared much better as a reliever upon his trade to the Orioles. In relief, Hunter has a career 15-10 record in 190 games, 15 saves, a 3.11 ERA, 1.10 WHIP and 172 strikeouts in 225.2 innings. The switch to relief added several miles per hour to his fastball which tops out in the mid-90s. Hunter relies on ground balls to get outs and has done so this year at a 46.3% clip to pare with a 3.63 ERA. Hunter is also pretty effective against both sides of the plate as right handers bat .238 and left handers bat .263 against him.
In return for Hunter, the Cubs gave up OF Junior Lake. Lake excelled in his first season, but never was able to recapture the magic. He owns a career .241/.283/.380 line with 16 home runs, 46 RBI and 15 stolen bases in just over 600 at bats. Lake started out as an infield prospect, but poor defense shifted him to the outfield. His strong tools of speed, power and an above-average arm have always made him an intriguing prospect, but with a glut of outfielders at all levels, Lake had become redundant. And without minor league options after this season there were questions as to how he would fit into the club’s long-term plans.
Hunter should be able to provide some quality innings and take the pressure off Pedro Strop, Jason Motte and Hector Rondon who have seen heavy use lately. His past experience in both setting up and closing mean he’s comfortable in a variety of situations.
Tommy Hunter likely fills the role the team was counting on Rafael Soriano to fill, but it’s debatable how much Soriano has left in the tank at this point. Overall, Hunter is a nice pickup, who didn’t cost too much, gives Joe Maddon another late-inning option in the pen and makes this team better.
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