Daniel Descalso, signed to a two-year contract (with a third-year option) by the Cubs before the 2019 season, did not have a good year. To be frank, it was a really, really bad year. Just two other position-player Cubs have had an OPS as low as Descalso’s (.521) with as many PA over the last 25 years: John Baker (.504 in 2014) and Tyler Colvin (.509 in 2011) — and at least Baker had some defensive value and a memorable pitching appearance.
Descalso’s -1.1 bWAR last year was the worst for a Cubs position player since Baker (and Junior Lake) were at -1.3 in 2014.
Our Cubs MLB The Show simulation seemed to acknowledge this. While I have been choosing the Cubs starting lineup, the sim never used Descalso as a pinch-hitter, not even in an extra-inning game. He appeared a couple of times as a defensive replacement.
So when Duane mentioned to me that the sim had opened up trading, I thought we should look into it. This is far earlier into a season than a real team would make a deal, but I thought the simCubs should move a player who was basically useless and not used, and perhaps shore up the back end of the bullpen.
Duane told me that the sim tells him that certain players are on the trading block. There were players he told me about that I was interested in acquiring for the simCubs, we “proposed” two deals, and they were both accepted.
We traded Descalso to the Athletics for lefthanded reliever Jesus Luzardo. In real life, Luzardo appeared in six games for the A’s in 2019, posting a 1.50 ERA and 0.667 WHIP in 12 innings, with 16 strikeouts. He’s 22 years old and went to Stoneman-Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, the same HS Anthony Rizzo attended. He was a third-round pick of the Nationals in 2016 and went to Oakland as part of the deal that brought Sean Doolittle to Washington in 2017.
Then we sent Casey Sadler, Hernan Perez and Corban Joseph to the Braves for Max Fried and Johan Camargo. All three of the players sent to simAtlanta were in actual spring training for the Cubs this year.
That might seem like a bit of a one-sided deal. However, those guys were available, primarily because Fried was off to a bad start (7.67 ERA in 27 innings) and Camargo was not on Atlanta’s MLB roster in the sim. He won’t be on the simCubs’ MLB roster, either; he essentially takes Perez’ place in the minors. Rowan Wick has also been sent to Iowa. Luzardo and Fried take the place of Wick and Descalso on the simCubs’ major-league roster.
Here’s how Duane explained to me how trading in the sim works:
In this case, the Braves and Athletics players were on the trading block, where teams put the players they want to make available for easy trades... either for performance purposes (Fried) or money/roster issues (Camargo) or for development issues.
Other times, there will be a popup saying so and so team has proposed a trade. It’s always about money then, or about a player who is having some success on one team and the other wants to get rid of some salary.
I assigned Luzardo uniform number 48 and Fried number 61. Both are available for today’s sim game. For now, Fried goes to long relief, but we’re going to keep an eye on Jose Quintana, scheduled to start Sunday’s game. If Q has another bad outing, we’ll put Fried in the simCubs rotation.