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Jesse Chavez for Tyler Thomas is a nearly perfect trade

The Cubs pulled off an excellent deal that helps both them and the Rangers.

Tyler Thomas, who was traded for Jesse Chavez
Becca Snyder

Shortly after the Cubs defeated the St. Louis Cardinals Thursday night, the defending N.L. Central Champs executed a nearly perfect trade. Looking from almost every angle, it was ideal. You’ve probably read a few assessments already, but it’s refreshing how Win/Win this trade looks. Regardless how the performers perform, it’s textbook.

The Cubs added reliever Jesse Chavez on the back-end of a relatively inexpensive contract in exchange for Tyler Thomas. Even if all the incentives are met, the Cubs will only be out about $1.5 million on his contract. If he pitches well, he should be worth it, if only limiting the number of times the Des Moines Variations relievers pitch in key spots.

For the Rangers, they lose the back-end on a contract in a fifth-place season. They weren’t going anywhere with him. They won’t do much worse without him. For Texas, they add extra opportunities for players they might want to audition for next season, anyway.

It’s so textbook, you might even all future trades along these lines “a Chavez trade.” It’s on the “Joe Smith trade” (2016 swap including the right-handed reliever who the Cubs added for left-handed pitcher Jesus Castillo) side of the “Alfonso Soriano trade” (for Corey Black in 2013), as the Soriano trade involved money.

The lower-record team wanted to move an asset, and received a useful minor league starter in full-season ball for their efforts. Whatever Thomas does from here, he made sense now for the Rangers. I look forward to seeing how he progresses in the future.


Both teams filled a need. Both fanbases have a new player to get familiar with, without much taken as a loss. As I measure a draft class by Wins Above and Trade Pieces Sent, the Cubs 2017 Class is already a +1 after 13 months and two weeks.

However, I did note a nearly perfect trade. It is far from ideal for Thomas. After getting used to the players in the Cubs pipeline, he voyages to a new organization. He played against the Rangers in the Northwest League last season, Moving to a new school is always tough. Even as a professional baseball player.

Thomas was the Friday guy for Fresno State as a junior. In a conference tournament game just before the draft, Thomas had an inauspicious start. No. Worse than that. Even worse than that. Now, you’re getting close.

Four pitch walk. Six pitch walk. Single to left. Single to left. Single to right. Homer. Four pitch walk. Single to right. Single to left. Book-rule double. Hit by pitch. Hook.

I included all the outs.

When scouts watch a pitcher in college, it isn’t all about velocity. It isn’t all about wins or losses. Not even about qualifying for the field of 64.

When scouts watch a player in college or high school, one question matters. Where should we pick him? The Cubs took Thomas in the seventh round last year. Perhaps they saw him as a long-term reliever. Perhaps he might beat the odds, and serve as a starter.

However, as a seventh-round pick, one final piece to the near-perfect trade is a nugget to chew on. “Is this guy good enough to perform reasonably well for 13-25 months, and get flipped to another side as a trade piece?”

It happened with Matt Rose (11th round — Jose Quintana trade). When you look at a list of draft names, what I’ll tell you to do next year is what you should probably be doing already. Take one guy on the list, and have him be your guy. No, it isn’t about upside. It isn’t about Baseball America rankings. It’s about selecting someone you choose to follow. Is he staying healthy? Is he getting his innings in?

And, if he does well enough, he might become a trade piece in the future. And that’s all good. Because Thomas did well, the Cubs didn’t have to offer up Keegan Thompson or Cory Abbott.

These trades are fun. People turn faux trades into bullying sessions. Which, unfortunately, doesn’t revoke the bully’s online privileges. Find a team that has a guy you’d like. No, not Jacob deGrom or Noah Syndegaard. Not Jeurys Familia. Some innings-eater guy like Chavez, who makes your team better. Offer a quality piece in return. Be respectful of both sides. Or inhale the exhaust of an 18-wheeler.

You get trades like Thomas for Chavez. You learn something. And, when you start getting a bit close (on your own, not by reading fake trades that others write after drinking a quart of rum), you realize you’re getting a bit close at grasping smaller trades. And, you learn other team’s pipelines. This is exactly how I ran into Carl Edwards Jr. before he started getting trade hype before his Matt Garza trade. It’s scary how razor-thin the margin between my noting Edwards numbers and the Twitterverse wanting Edwards included.

I love this trade. I’m glad the Cubs and Rangers can pull off such a logical trade. And the 40-man roter decisions are about to get a little bit more real. As a discussion topic, who is on the 40-man outs? (Hint. No, it isn’t Brian Duensing unless Duensing has a trade offer, already. His out on Thursday was the game’s biggest one.)