Evaluating the Cubs’ trade deadline return so far
The Cubs were expected to be busy leading up to the Aug. 2 MLB trade deadline but Jed Hoyer’s front office has only made a pair of deals as of Monday evening.
Those moves were sort of on opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of the surprise meter. Veteran Chris Martin was dealt two months before he hit free agency but young, up-and-coming reliever Scott Effross was the second Cubs player traded away even though he has five years left of team control.
What the Cubs got in return for both relievers is MLB-ready talent — players that could make an impact in Chicago already this season.
With Effross, the Cubs turned a 28-year-old reliever into a 24-year-old starting pitching prospect (Hayden Wesneski) who is performing well at Triple-A. In 19 starts for the Yankees’ top minor league affiliate, Wesneski is 6-7 with a 3.51 ERA, 1.15 WHIP and 83 strikeouts in 89.2 innings.
MLB Pipeline’s senior writer Jim Callis is a big fan of the trade from the Cubs’ perspective.
“This is exactly the type of deal the Cubs should be making,” Callis told Cole Wright on Cubs Live! Monday night. “You’ve got a reliever who’s performing well, you sell high on him and you get not only a starting pitching prospect but a good one who’s nearly ready for the big leagues. This is exactly the type of move the Cubs should be making.
“When you get offered a guy like Wesneski for Effross, even though Effross is pitching well, you don’t hesitate to make that.”
Wesneski was the No. 7 prospect in the Yankees’ system on MLB Pipeline’s ranking and No. 4 on Baseball America’s list.
He was a 6th round pick in 2019 out of Sam Houston State University and Callis said he had one of the best sinkers in that draft class.
The Yankees helped him add some velocity and now Wesneski is sitting at 92-94 mph with his sinker and dials it up to 98 mph with his 4-seam fastball.
The Yankees also helped Wesneski add some more sweep to his slider which he can turn into a hard cutter and he also has a changeup.
Lance Brozdowski delivered a more in-depth breakdown of Wesneski’s arsenal:
All this adds up to a guy who is not only a top prospect in the Cubs system but an arm who might be at Wrigley Field soon.
“He’s pitching really well in Triple-A,” Callis said. “I don’t know that the Cubs are gonna do this but theoretically, you could call this guy up tomorrow and put him in the big-league rotation. He’s ready for the big leagues right now.
“I get what the Yankees are doing: Effross has proven himself in the big leagues, Wesneski hasn’t. But we could look back on this years from now and go, ‘wow, the Cubs really made out well in that trade.’”
As for Zach McKinstry — the return from the Dodgers in the Martin deal — Callis was high on that deal from the Cubs’ perspective as well.
Callis joked that he is the president of the Zach McKinstry Fan Club and likes what the 27-year-old brings to his new team.
“He’s got some tools — hits for average, he’s got some gap power, he’s a solid runner, solid-to-plus arm strength,” Callis said. “He can play second, third, fill in at short, play all over the outfield. I think this is a guy where the upside is maybe he’s your everyday second baseman. But if not, this is a guy who can play six positions and produce and run a little bit, too.
“I really like Zach McKinstry. I’m glad to see he’ll get an opportunity to play more. He was just blocked in LA and didn’t get much of a chance there.”