Theo & Co. and the Cubs thought that maybe they had caught the rest of the league by surprise with a “big trade” late Sunday afternoon. The Cubs dealt Arodys Vizcaino back to the Atlanta Braves (they had acquired him just a few months after Tommy John surgery during the 2012 trade deadline for Paul Maholm and Reed Johnson) for 2nd baseman Tommy La Stella. I have my issues with this trade for a few reasons (see below), but was glad that they were being proactive before the “big moves” this winter.
I was still licking my chops for the big signings of Russell Martin and Jon Lester sometime this week and maybe even a bigger splash with a blockbuster trade for a Cole Hamels, Giancarlo Stanton or a Jason Heyward.
But then all hell broke loose on Monday. The Braves announced that they had traded Heyward to our hated rivals — the St. Louis Cardinals. The Cards had had to give up Shelby Miller for Heyward, but it was still like getting stabbed in the back.
Then the Toronto Blue Jays announced that they had enticed “our” catcher, Canadian Russell Martin up across the border with the promise of a 5th guaranteed year and a whopping $82 million. Ouch. Guess that was too rich for our blood.
Now our big trade for uber-on-base guy La Stella isn’t even one of the Top 20 ESPN MLB stories anymore…
That leads me back to my issues with the La Stella trade. Don’t we have enough middle infielders already — Starlin Castro, Javier Baez, Addison Russell and Arismendy Alcantara? Why do we need another guy there? Sure I love his on-base percentage numbers, but his numbers dipped big time after teams had time to really scout him. In his 1st 46 games in the majors last season, La Stella hit .297 with a .747 OPS. But check out what happened in his final 47 games of the season — .201 batting average with a .534 OPS. Not good.
Couple that with giving up one of our “power arms” who really helped solidify our bullpen in 2014, this trade concerns me. Theo & Co. have raved up Vizcaino and how good he looked in Triple-A in 2014 and how close he was to really contributing at the big league level. You’re gonna give that up for a utility infielder who isn’t gonna play everyday? No way.
This wreaks of a trade which leads to another trade. Maybe Baez or Alcantara or both are going to be moved in order to acquire a Cole Hamels, a Jordan Zimmerman or a Zach Wheeler. Having La Stella step in as your everyday 2nd baseman is a conservative, stable move, full well knowing that you’ll have Kris Bryant up pretty soon in April to bolster your offense.
Guess we’ll have to be patient and see what happens. We’ll keep you posted as soon as anything breaks…