Four players who qualify as "change of scenery" candidates changed teams yesterday in two separate trades. These players had run out of chances with their teams because of poor performance but have enough talent where they could still turn things around with a fresh start.
In a deal that sent starting pitcher Scott Feldman to the Orioles, the Cubs received two former prospects—Jake Arrieta and Pedro Strop—with big-time arms and major league experience that are too inconsistent to trust on a contending team like the Orioles.
Arrieta, who began the season in the O's rotation after a strong spring, was back in the minors after four shaky starts. The 27-year-old earned another start in mid-June, but he failed to impress in what ended up being his last shot to stick in Baltimore.
Despite having the ability to dominate on occasion, Arrieta has never been able to string together more than one or two good consecutive starts. He'll begin his Cubs career in the minors before joining the big league rotation later this season, when he won't have to worry about losing his job if he doesn't pitch well.
Heading straight to the major league club is Strop, who was the O's top setup man during their 93-win season in 2012. The 28-year-old benefited from a change of scenery when the Rangers gave up on him late in 2011, sending him to Baltimore for veteran reliever Mike Gonzalez.
Strop flourished immediately, allowing just one earned run in 12.1 innings to finish out the year before his breakout last season (2.44 ERA, three saves, 24 holds). The magic ran out in 2013, however, as Strop posted a 7.25 ERA with 15 walks and 24 strikeouts in 22.1 innings before being sent to the Cubs, where he'll have a good chance to work his way into the late-inning mix.
In another move involving the Cubs, former closer Carlos Marmol was traded to the Dodgers for veteran Matt Guerrier, who had been designated for assignment on June 30 after posting a 4.80 ERA in 34 appearances.
Both teams are in need of late-inning bullpen help and neither Marmol, designated for assignment on June 25, nor Guerrier, who is in the last year of a three-year, $12 million contract, were going to be part of the solution. It's worth a shot to see if either veteran can turn things around on a new team.
The 30-year-old Marmol still has the ability to dominate—this stat line is from a recent four-appearance span last month: 4 IP, 0 R, H, 0 BB, 8 K, 2 holds—but his implosions were becoming far too common, and the Cubs felt he was becoming a distraction.
If he can regain his form from the second half of 2012 (1.52 ERA, 29.2 IP, 17 BB, 39 K, 12-for-13 in save opportunities), the Dodgers could have a formidable late-inning duo in Marmol and Kenley Jansen. If not, which is more likely, than they can cut ties on what was a low-risk acquisition.
Here are six other players who could benefit from a change of scenery and could get that opportunity this month.