The trade deadline has come and gone, and while they did not unload everyone who was rumored to be on the block, the Chicago Cubs did manage to swing a trio of trades before the deadline as they focused on strengthening the farm system, especially in the form of pitching talent.
So here is a detailed look at those four deals, who the Cubs moved, who the Cubs acquired and a grade for the deal.
Geovany Soto to Texas Rangers
Rangers Received: C Geovany Soto
Cubs Received: RHP Jacob Brigham
The Cubs kicked off their trade deadline activity by shipping catcher Geovany Soto to the Rangers for minor league pitcher Jacob Brigham, according to a report from CBSSports.
Soto burst onto the scene in 2008, hitting .285 BA, 23 HR, 86 RBI as he started the All-Star Game and captured NL Rookie of the Year honors.
Those numbers fell to .218 BA, 11 HR, 47 RBI the following season, but he looked to be back on track with a solid 2010 campaign in which he hit .280 BA, 17 HR, 53 RBI.
That would be the last the Cubs saw of the good Soto though, as he has hit .218 since the start of the 2011 season, including a .195 BA, 6 HR, 14 RBI line in 174 at bats this season.
Brigham, 24, is in his second go-around at Double-A this season and has gone 5-5, 4.28 ERA, 116 Ks, 124 IP. He's not a top prospect by any means, but he should be able to contribute at the big league level, and likely sooner rather than later.
Trade Grade: B+
Soto earned $4.3 million this season, and is headed for his final year of arbitration eligibility this offseason. In all reality, he was a non-tender candidate if the Cubs did not trade him, so the fact that they got anything for him is a bonus, let alone a solid young arm.
Paul Maholm and Reed Johnson to Atlanta Braves
Braves Received: LHP Paul Maholm, OF Reed Johnson
Cubs Received: RHP Arodys Vizcaino, RHP Jaye Chapman
After all the talk surrounding Ryan Dempster and Matt Garza, it wound up being Paul Maholm who was the first Cubs pitcher to be dealt, as he joins the Braves along with outfielder Reed Johnson for a pair of pitching prospects, according to a report from CBSSports.
Maholm, signed to a one-year, $4.75 million deal in the offseason with a $6.5 million team option for 2013, has been pitching as well as anyone in baseball of late. In his last seven games, he has gone 5-0 with a 1.00 ERA. He has had a fantastic second half.
Johnson has been his usual solid self in the fourth outfielder role, hitting .307 BA, 3 HR, 16 RBI in 166 at bats, and he gives the Braves a nice veteran bat off the bench for their stretch run.
Coming the other way, the Cubs received an interesting piece in right-hander Arodys Vizcaino. The former Yankee farmhand made his big league debut last season at the age of 20, and has tremendous upside. But he is currently on his way back from Tommy John surgery and has not pitched all season.
Also coming to the Cubs is right-handed reliever Jaye Chapman, who has pitched well in Triple-A this season with a 3.52 ERA and 60 strikeouts in 53.2 innings. The 25-year-old has also saved seven games, and could have a shot at a September audition.
Trade Grade: C
The idea of selling high on Maholm was a good one, and moving Johnson is no big deal as he is the ideal rental player for a team looking for a bat off the bench.
Epstein has stuck by his insistence on getting minor league pitching in return for anyone he moves, and if Vizcaino can return to his pre-surgery form this trade could be a major steal. There was undoubtedly some risk involved in the deal.
Ryan Dempster to Texas Rangers
Rangers Received: RHP Ryan Dempster
Cubs Received: RHP Kyle Hendricks, 3B Christian Villanueva
The Ryan Dempster saga finally has a conclusion, as Dempster joins injury-plagued Ranger rotation, according to a report from CBSSports just before the deadline passed.
In the final year of his current contract, Dempster has been terrific going 5-5 with a 2.25 ERA in 16 starts. He's spent some time on the DL, but he appears healthy now and according to a tweet from Anthony Andro of Fox Sports, will push Roy Oswalt to the bullpen and make his Rangers debut on Thursday.
Hendricks, 22, gives the Cubs the high-upside pitching prospect they are looking for, as he has looked terrific this season at High Single-A, going 5-8, 2.82 ERA, 112 Ks, 130.2 IP. He was used as a reliever in his first pro season last year, but he has looked right at home in the rotation.
Not to be overshadowed, the 21-year-old Villanueva entered the season as the No. 100 prospect in baseball according to Baseball America and has hit .285 BA, 10 HR, 59 RBI this season at High Single-A. He hit .278 BA, 17 HR, 84 RBI, 32 SB last season in Single-A.
Trade Grade: A-
It wasn't Dodgers prospect Zach Lee, and it wasn't even Braves prospect Randall Delgado, but the Cubs got a decent return for Dempster when all was said and done. There was talk (via Buster Olney) of the Cubs holding onto him and making him a qualifying offer at season's end, and they made the right decision in opting not to do that.
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