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Cubs trade target: Caleb Smith

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Here’s a lefthander the Cubs could have for almost nothing.

Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images

If Caleb Smith’s name sounds familiar to you, it might be because he was a Rule 5 pick in the 2016-17 offseason. The Brewers took him from the Yankees, then sold him to the Cubs. He pitched in five games for the Cubs in 2017 spring training, but the then-defending World Series champions didn’t have room for him in the bullpen, so they returned him to the Yankees.

Smith was eventually traded to the Marlins and put together what was looking like a really good season in 2019 before he had a hip injury. He missed most of June before returning and wasn’t really the same after that. This article from our friends at SB Nation’s Marlins site Fish Stripes has some good detail on what happened.

Smith went to the Diamondbacks at the 2020 trading deadline in the Starling Marte deal. The same injury limited him to just four games (three starts) in 2020, but he began the 2021 season in Arizona’s rotation. That didn’t last long — he was put in the bullpen after just one start.

At the beginning of June the D-backs put Smith back in their rotation and the results — a small sample size of three starts — aren’t great, but neither are they awful. He’s posted a 4.40 ERA and 1.186 WHIP in 14⅓ innings, with a .208 opponents BA.

Per Fangraphs, Smith has relied more on his offspeed stuff this year than in previous seasons, with more than half his 2021 pitches being his slider, curveball and changeup. He’s struck out 56 batters in 47⅓ innings this year.

Also, Smith is lefthanded. The Cubs could use one of those in the rotation. He’ll turn 30 next month and could probably be had for a couple of A-ball lottery tickets. Arizona isn’t going anywhere and they certainly don’t need a pitcher like this. Smith is making $1.45 million this year, so the financial cost would be low, and he’s under team control for two more seasons.

A trade like this wouldn’t mean the Cubs shouldn’t look for another starter. But Smith would make for a good fifth starter, and right now the Cubs need one.

So would you do this? Would the D-backs?

Poll

Caleb Smith...

This poll is closed

  • 58%
    ... trade for him, a couple of A-ball lottery tickets would do it
    (237 votes)
  • 7%
    ... trade for him, but it will take a different deal to get it done (leave in comments)
    (29 votes)
  • 33%
    ... don’t trade for him
    (137 votes)
403 votes total Vote Now