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Cubs Prospect Perspective: Juan Mora

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Here’s a guy who might be blocked in the Cubs organization. Could they get any value in trade for him?

Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

For a while, I’ve wanted to write an article, but I had no real way to introduce it, or to play it out. Kind of like when you have one of those really fascinating dreams that, when you... well.... when you try to put them into words, they don’t hold together well at all. Nonetheless, I’ve held the idea, wanting to do an article, but I had nothing, really. Even with doing an obscene number of player perspectives, I couldn’t find a way. I received some news from one of my colleagues who does something similar to what I do in a completely bizarre way. Suddenly, I’m hitting “dream crazy” sort of rhetoric. That all leads to a prospect perspective on infielder Juan Mora.

Juan Mora

Second Base. Born September 30, 1999. Mazatlan, Mexico
Signed by the Cubs as an international free agent.

Baseball trades are an interesting beast. The original basis for a trade used to be: “I’d prefer what you have, and you’d prefer what I have.” Tuna sandwich for a PBJ cut edge to edge in triangles. Or whatever. Yours seems preferable to mine. It used to be entirely possible, in sports or life, for a win/win swap. Now, we’ve become so aggressive at trying to, I dunno, ruin each other’s happiness that, “I’m happy with the trade, and so are you” is no longer the goal. Which it always should be. “If you’re happy, I’m happy.”

Mutual sabotage seems to be why some people roll out of bed, and it’s seeped into baseball transactions. “The Braves got what they wanted in the Joc Pederson trade, and so did the Cubs” seems as alien of a concept as a Hatfield sending a McCoy a genuine Valentine Card. Then, toss in a heaping portion of “You want me to be angry because (insert player here) got traded,” and any baseball transaction is seemingly perceived to break another individual’s soul, or a wasted opportunity at possibly being able to do that.

Sometimes, a trade ought to be more about: “This guy is completely stalled or blocked in our system. I want him to be able to play for an organization that will give him a chance to do well.” On a You Tube video, someone told of a room with about 1,000 balloons, each with a person’s name on it. Given five minutes, nobody could find “their” balloon. When the instructions were changed to: When you find a balloon, get the balloon to that person. At that point all the people had their balloon in five minutes.

The baseball draft is down to 20 rounds. My idea, back awhile ago was to add two rounds to the draft with the caveat that no team could make their selection. They could only get benefit from their selection if they traded it. It gets to be the end of spring training, and a team is long (or short) a position at a level, and they trade a 21 or a 22 for an extra whatever. Likely every team could make that sort of an exchange, if they were looking to. Or, perhaps, the Cubs get into a “need to add Koyie Hill” situation like in 2012. Instead of a cash trade, they send a 22nd round pick.

***

I enjoy baseball trades. As I write this, I would love to have a new name to pore over. But, alas, no. Nobody wants to makes trades involving the 40-man roster, because those are as scarcely available as hen’s teeth, now. Even minor league spots are limited to 190 during the off-season. It’s not like anyone wants to add anyone before the Rule 5 Draft, regardless.

Nonetheless, one of my co-conspirators dropped me a name within the last week, with a justification. I’m not going to say the Cubs “will” or “should” sign former Red Sox and Blue Jays pitcher Jose Espada, but my co-conspirator put me on the trail of thinking the Cubs signing Espada might well happen from a logical sense. Hearing “the Cubs sign Espada” would be both humorous and rewarding, because it makes sense, though there’s no certainty, only innuendo. It’s certainly not to the level of rumor.

You’re wondering what all this has to do with Juan Mora.

Sometimes, a player probably ought to go elsewhere. Juan Mora was on the Cubs Mesa Arizona Complex League team in 2021. After two seasons in the Dominican Summer League, with his second (2019) being far more successful, he had nowhere to play in 2020. When 2021 rolled around, the Cubs had two fewer teams going, and Mora lost at-bats to both players in front of him developmentally and less developed professionally. Ed Howard and Kevin Made were plugged in with Myrtle Beach. Reggie Preciado was taking his at-bats, as were recent draft selections BJ Murray, Liam Spence, and James Triantos. Despite it all, Mora had an OPS of 1.054 in a league where the OPS was .745.

Mora can hit, and should be playing, regularly, somewhere. However, being blocked behind so many players in his general level of development, it would be nice if he’d get an honest look with another organization. However, nobody is likely to offer a valid piece for him, as prospects are the petroleum of the MLB automobile’s pipeline. As an introduction to “trading draft picks,” I’d definitely like to see my idea of “two draft picks that are only of value if traded” get a look, if only so the Cubs can get something back for Mora. (I’d imagine most organizations have someone in the wrong place at the wrong time, but few people seem to be honest and magnanimous enough to give the other organizations their proper respect.)