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Cubs faux trade proposal: Chris Martin to the Yankees

What could the Cubs get from the Yankees system for the righthanded reliever?

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

I enjoy making faux trades. They are pure speculation. They are entirely my own creation. They’re unlikely to happen. However, in certain, bizarre circumstances, they make sense. As with intimacy between a couple, the faux trade only makes sense if it makes sense for both teams. If it’s a rip-off deal, in either direction, I’ve wasted your time, and mine. However, if it kinda seems a bit logical for both sides, I’m generally good with being as deft as Inspector Clouseau in any of his roles. Today’s faux trade circles around trading Chris Martin to the Yankees.

First, I want to look at this from a Yankees perspective. (Realistically, from a Cubs perspective, this is the most important sell. In many Cubs fan-generated faux trades, the Cubs end gets all the cool stuff. Cody Ransom, Scott Diamond, and David Patton end up fetching an Advanced-A catcher of some note. This is literary gobbledy-gook. If a Yankees fan isn’t buying it, it’s pointless.) The Yankees, as of Monday morning, They have a comfortable 5.5 game division lead, and have baseball’s best record. However, over the weekend, two key relievers had their season end with Tommy John surgery announcements. Chad Green and Luis Gil are done for the season. Few bullpens that loses two leverage pieces will seamlessly flow into the near future. Bullpen woes were a part of the Yankees losing a twin bill on Sunday to the White Sox.

As for the Cubs, with or without Chris Martin, it’s a bit safe to project a third- through fifth-place division finish. Losing Willson Contreras to an injury over the weekend is likely to make retaining Contreras even less likely than before. Whether Yan Gomes is a keeper into mid-August or not, it’s reasonably likely that the trade deadline in 2022 will be “closer to” 2021 than “further from” it. That rental pieces will likely be traded is somewhat likely. Martin, whether you “like him” or “have enjoyed his time with the Cubs” or not, will probably be gone if he “fetches value” between now and the deadline.

I should define “fetches value”. Martin could be ratained in 2023, through the arbitration process, if the Cubs are interested. (Put a pin in that idea.) Perhaps the Cubs might be. Perhaps they wouldn’t be. To that extent, he’s very much like Adam Morgan or Adrian Sampson were in late-September, last season. “The Cubs had the option.” As you likely know, most notable trades happen in July. It’s a bit counter-intuitive that teams offer “more” in July than in late-May, but that’s how it tends to work. Deadlines can be helpful.

Martin’s ERA is 2.57, with his FIP 2.24. If the Yankees are going to want to trade for a reliever, they’re going to want to trade for a reliever who’s done relatively well in 2022, not some shabby C- imposter. Martin would possibly be around the level they’d expect. As for the Cubs, Alec Mills, David Bote, Jason Heyward, and Michael Hermosillo might be needing 40-man roster spots rather soon. While it’s unlikely that Martin would even be considered for dismissal by DFA, the other players that might be (Mark Leiter Jr., Sean Newcomb, etc.) might be useful, give a chance. Probably not, but low-rent gambles are what 2022 seems to be about. (Sorry, but that’s how I see the front office’s reality.)

Martin, if traded in June, would likely fetch dimes on the dollar to his July value, if he stays successful. How confident are you that he will stay successful? A decent chunk of my Twitter timeline goes into a form of catatonic shutdown when Martin enters, fearing the worst. If you buy that Martin will be a beast until July, and he is, your wager is the correct one. I’d rather trade Martin for a small piece than lose the whole loaf on a slump or injury.

The reason Martin can be traded before mid-June without concessions, is that he doesn’t have enough service time. For the same reason, Rowan Wick might also make a curious/possible trade piece. If you believe in the Cubs emerging bullpen, trading from strength might be a very wise idea.

How I’m generally defining quality these days is a recent signing (internationally or the draft, usually) who’s having a good season. I don’t even bother looking at Top 30 lists. I look at the most recent draft class, and trim off the first three rounds, or so. If Jed Hoyer can get the Yankees’ third pick in 2021 for Chris Martin, then he did fantastically well. If a player is doing well in A-Ball or Double-A, and was drafted last year, that’s enough for me. (For the record, the Yankees 2021 third-rounder was Brock Selvidge, who is still in their spring complex so far this season. It wouldn’t likely be him.)

Here is the Yankees’ 2021 Draft and here’s a look at everyone from the fourth round down.

4th Round: Cooper Bowman, shortstop, Louisville

Fractionally below league average age in Advanced-A, his OPS is .824. While that would be a fantastic get for a reliever of questionable long-term value, I doubt that’s the Yankees offer.

5th Round: Tyler Hardman, first base, Oklahoma

Also in Advanced-A, his OPS is .598. Had Bryce Ball and Matt Mervis not exploded the last month or so to the positive side, Hardman (who I liked in the draft run-up) might be the guy. Probably not so, now, even though the South Bend first base position is a bit hazy.

6th Round: Richard Fitts, right-handed pitcher, Auburn

A rotation guy in Tampa (Low-A), Fitts is break-even at age. His ERA is 6.75, his WHIP is 1.417, and his strikeouts and hits allowed are both 31 in 24 innings. I remember Fitts from SEC games, and I was interested in him pre-draft.

7th Round: Robby Ahlstrom, left-handed pitcher, Oregon

Ahlstrom has already been traded to Texas in the Jose Trevino trade.

8th Round: Will Warren, right-handed pitcher, Southeastern Louisiana

Younger than league-age level in Advanced-A Hudson Valley, Warren has a 3.41 ERA and a WHIP of 1.034. He’s fanned 36 in 29 innings.

9th Round: Chandler Champlain, right-handed pitcher, USC

Break-even at age-level, he’s in the Low-A Tampa rotation. His ERA is 2.08, with a WHIP of 1.022. He’s fanned 38 hitters in 30⅓ innings.

10th Round: Ben Cowles, Shortstop, Maryland

Fractionally older than the Low-A league in Tampa, Cowles has an OPS of .742.

11th Round: Jack Neely, right-handed pitcher, Ohio State

Breakeven age in Low-A Tampa, Neely’s ERA is 6.38, with a WHIP if 1.582. He’s fanned 32 in 18⅔ innings.

12th Round: Ben Rice, Catcher, Dartmouth

Almost two years older than the league in Low-A Tampa, Rice’s OPS is .323.

13th Round: Zach Messinger, right-handed pitcher, Virginia

Breakeven in age in Low-A Tampa, Messinger’s ERA is 4.26, and his WHIP is 1.368. He’s fanned 29 in 19 innings.

14th Round: Sean Hermann, right-handed pitcher, Durant HS, (FL)

He hasn’t pitched in a professional game yet, though he doesn’t appear to be injured.

15th Round: Danny Watson, right-handed pitcher, Virginia Commonwealth

In Low-A Tampa, Watson is a year below opposition level. His ERA is 3.32 out of the bullpen, and his WHIP is 1.154. He’s fanned 21 in 21⅔ innings.

16th Round: Cole Ayers, right-handed pitcher, State College of Florida-Manatee

He has not pitched this season in a game with a box score, nor is he on an injured list.

17th Round: Grant Richardson, Outfield, Indiana University

In Low-A Tampa, he’s fractionally older than the league. His OPS is .589

18th Round: Bailey Dees, right-handed pitcher, Penn State

A year older than the Low-A level, his ERA is 4.32, and his WHIP is 1.20

19th Round: Dominick Keegan, Catcher, Vanderbilt

Did not sign.

20th Round: Sean Hard, Pitcher, St. Joseph Regional High School (Montvale, NJ)

Did not sign.

Worth another consideration, from above. Danny Watson (14th), Chandler Champlain (9th), Will Warren (8th), Ben Cowles (10th), Richard Fitts (6th), Cooper Bowman (4th). I haven’t looked at a prospect list, as production matters more, to me.

As for how the roster Jenga would work? If Martin would be traded soon, for one of the above six names, a Triple-A reliever would likely take Martin’s spot, if any are eligible at the time. To take his spot, a Double-A reliever who has been doing well (Perhaps Eduarniel Nunez) would take the spot of whoever gets called up. Bailey Horn or Jeremiah Estrada could bolt to Double-A, with Sheldon Reed (he of the high-90s fastball and an ERA of 0.00 in Low-A Myrtle Beach) could jump to South Bend. By trading a short-term pitcher before he loses his value, the Cubs could add a recent draft pick that’s doing well this season.

My preference list would be Bowman, Warren, Fitts, and Champlain, and I’d probably accept any of the four for Martin. Needless to say, other names would be under consideration, but this is how a draft list becomes realistic acquisition candidates.

If the Yankees front office or fanbase thinks I’m extorting too much for a reliever? I’m not rooting for the team that stunk it up out of the pen in two different games on Sunday. I think Warner/Fitts/Champlain for Martin seems about close. If the Bombers lose too many games late, the division will get close, again. I’ve respected Yankees fans and Yankees desires, and educated myself on their system.