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A look at Cubs trades in the expansion era: 2023

A look back at last year.

Photo by Matt Dirksen/Getty Images

The Cubs appeared to be headed toward another deadline selloff until they won eight in a row in late July. That, along with Dansby Swanson’s reported plea to Jed Hoyer to not sell off every year, prompted the Cubs to make a couple of small “buy” deals at the deadline.

March 27: Acquired Carlos Guzman from the Tigers for Zach McKinstry

McKinstry was squeezed out of a spot on the Cubs roster because of some other acquistions, including Miles Mastrobuoni. Deemed expendable, he was shipped to Detroit for Guzman, who had originally signed as an infielder.

Guzman turns 26 in May and didn’t have a great year at Double-A Tennessee, where he’ll probably start 2024.

McKinstry batted .231/.302/.351 in 148 games for the Tigers, basically a full-time player playing all over the field, every position except first base and catcher, posting 1.1 bWAR.

For now, this deal is a winner for Detroit.

July 31: Acquired Jeimer Candelario from the Nationals for DJ Herz and Kevin Made

Reacquiring Candelario, who had been traded to Detroit in 2017, looked great for a while. He had four hits in each of his first two games with the Cubs and over his first nine games back in blue pinstripes he batted .485/.541/.727 (16-for-33) with five doubles and a home run.

Of course, no one can sustain that forever and his hitting fell off, then he got hurt and missed 13 games in September. I’m not saying it was all due to missing Candy, but the Cubs went 5-8 in those 13 games after going 8-5 in the 13 just before that. Could a healthy Candelario have helped push the Cubs another win or two in that stretch and got them to the postseason? We’ll never know.

Herz is 22 and Made is 20. Neither has played above Double-A, so it might be a couple years before we know if the Nats got anything useful from this deal. Both still have a chance to be good MLB players.

July 31: Acquired Jose Cuas from the Royals for Nelson Velázquez

Similar to Candelario, Velázquez went crazy in his first few games with his new team. In his first six games with the Royals, he hit .348/.348/.870 (8-for-23) with four home runs. He cooled off a bit after that, but still wound up with an .878 OPS and 14 home runs in 40 games in Kansas City.

He never seemed to get a real chance with the Cubs, so I’m glad he got one.

Cuas somehow managed to post an ERA of 0.90 in his first 10 games with the Cubs, but in those 10 games (10 innings) he issued 11 walks and seemed to always be pitching himself out of trouble he got himself into.

After that he cut down on the walks (just three in his last 13⅔ innings of 2023) but his ERA jumped to 4.61 over that span.

What to expect from him in 2024? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

It would be nice if Cuas could be a useful part of the 2024 bullpen. If not, this deal is lopsided in favor of the Royals.

August 1: Acquired Josh Roberson from the Rays for Manuel Rodriguez and Adrian Sampson

I’m including this deal even though all three players were in the minor leagues at the time.

The Cubs got the Rays to take what was left on Sampson’s contract — and that appeared to matter for luxury tax calculations — in order for Tampa Bay to get Rodriguez. The Rays released Sampson two days later, and Roberson pitched five games for the Iowa Cubs with a 20.25 ERA (injured, maybe?) and was released September 6.

So that leaves ManRod as the only possible player who might contribute any value in this deal. He posted a 3.06 ERA and 1.302 WHIP in 15 games at Triple-A Durham in the Rays system. He’s on the Rays’ 40-man roster and I’d think they will give him every chance to make their Opening Day roster.

This one could be a big win for the Rays.

The Cubs didn’t get much from these deals so I’m going to give them a D grade.


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