Cubs Acquire Moreno, Arrieta, Strop, Guerrier, Go All In on 2013 IFAs

arrietaThe Cubs made a series of moves today, the net result being the acquisition of a few marginal players and some additional pool space to sign international free agents.

Trade Roundup

Trade 1: Cubs give up Scott Feldman and Steve Clevenger for Jake Arrieta, Pedro Strop, and pool space

Feldman had been good this year, but unfortunately his track record leaves a lot to be desired. As a result, the return is less than one might have hoped. Arrieta has bounced between the minors and the O’s rotation throughout his career. Scouts have always liked the stuff, as he was twice a top 100 prospect, but that has never translated into much major league success. In 2012 he actually put up decent peripherals (22.0% K’s, 7.1% BB’s) over 114 big-league innings, which is I suspect a big reason why the Cubs are interested, but was crushed to the tune of a 6.20 ERA. In 2013 he has been horrible over 5 starts. Meh, maybe a change of scenery will help. Pedro Strop is a reliever with bad control who generates lots of ground balls.

Trade 2: Cubs trade Carlos Marmol and pool space to the Dodgers for Matt Guerrier

This is bit of a head scratcher for me. Guerrier was a successful heavy-usage set up man with the Twins, but has been very ordinary since joining the Dodgers two and a half years ago. The periphs are not there anymore, he had elbow problems in 2012, and he looks like a minor leaguer at this point. He is not making as much money as Marmol, but it still seems an odd move for a team like the Cubs, who seem to be hording IFA pool space.

Trade 3: Cubs trade Ronald Torreyes to the Astros for pool space

Most of those who follow the Cubs’ minor league system closely seem to like Torreyes. He’s very young for his level (20 at AA), and he can hit (.312 career BA). He’s tiny, however, and the Cubs are obviously hording pool space. Remind me why they didn’t just release Marmol, again?

Cubs Sign IFA Erling Moreno

With the luxury of having additional pool space, the Cubs have signed a third top IFA prospect, RHP Erling Moreno for $800,000. Moreno is #16 in BA’s ranking, and #48 for TAM.

BA:

Moreno doesn’t have a plus fastball yet, working anywhere from 87-90 mph, but he has plenty of room to add weight and velocity so he could throw in the mid-90s eventually. He gets good angle on his fastball and works down in the strike zone. He keeps hitters off his fastball with a solid changeup, a pitch that some scouts think is ahead of his breaking ball. Other scouts prefer his breaking ball and think it’s a projectable pitch.

TAM:

Strong athletic build with present strength. Wide shoulders and thick lower half. Fastball 86-87mph with projection. Low effort delivery, 3/4 with good downward plane. Does a good job locating the fastball. Shows good control.

Pool Space Roundup

From Amount
Orioles $388,100
Astros $468,400
Astros $316,300
Cubs (to LAD) $209,700

It’s been widely circulated that the Orioles sent $388,100 to the Cubs, but the Orioles didn’t have a slot or combination of slots that add up to that number which is a combination of their third and fourth slots. I’m going to stick with it just because Jed confirmed the net amount acquired to Bruce Miles. This means the Cubs have $2.44 million remaining, taking into account the allowed 5% overage and the Torres, Mejia, and Moreno contracts. Eloy Jimenez has been rumored to sign at $2.7 million with the Cubs, so something is obviously not adding up here. Jimenez could sign for less (though Rangers rumors are still floating around), but I wouldn’t rule out the possibility that the Cubs are not done making moves. (Poor Brett may have picked the wrong day to do his marathon.) I also wouldn’t expect the Cubs to go right up to their limits with the Eloy signing, as most teams eventually acquire at least a dozen or so lesser names on the cheap. 

Regardless of the details here, it’s clear that the Cubs made the 2013 IFAs a huge priority. I won’t comment too much on the wisdom of this decision. Obviously the Cubs saw an opportunity given their large bonus pool and the available premium talent. This is clearly a long term move, though, as it will probably be five years before any of these players sniff the majors. I give them credit for long term thinking, but IFA’s are also famously a big gamble, given their age and distance from the majors. Impact talent is hard to find, and clearly the Cubs think it’s worth the risk.

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