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Yu Darvish Jersey

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Yes, I know. You hate the Yu Darvish trade. You think the Cubs are tanking.

In The Athletic, Peter Gammons says that isn’t so:

For the Cubs, this isn’t about tanking.

Well, that’s a provocative statement. Let’s let Gammons elaborate:

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“The farm system,” says one Cubs observer, “is already being completely rebuilt. The Padres trade only makes that better and Cristian Hernandez, who is in this year’s international class out of the Dominican, has been comped to A-Rod.”

Well, that’s very interesting. Of course, Hernandez is another 17-year-old kid and even if he does wind up as good a player as Alex Rodriguez (without the PEDs, one would hope), he’s still two to three years away from the big leagues.

But wait, there’s more!

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The Cubs think fireballing lefty Brailyn Márquez will be up this season, as will right-hander Adbert Alzolay. Catcher Miguel Amaya is close. Outfielder Brennen Davis has the earmarks of a star. Nico Hoerner is a really good player, in the infield or center field.

That sounds like a system ready to produce, if not multiple star players, at least solid major-league regulars and pitchers.

And what about the four players the Cubs got from the Padres?

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“We really like the guys we sent to the Cubs,” says one Padres official who, unlike some who commented on the trade, saw all of them extensively in the instructional league. He sees 6-foot-5 switch-hitting shortstop Reggie Preciado as a “hit tool guy who can play a corner.” Shortstop Yeison Santana is a “strong kid who could stay at short or anywhere in the infield.” Outfielder Ismael Mena is “a really athletic front-of-the-order tools guy who probably will be on a corner.” Outfielder Owen Caissie is a June second-rounder with power.

This all sounds really good. Yes, they are all probably at least three years away, perhaps more. But as Gammons reminds us, speaking of Fernando Tatis Jr.:

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None of the players the Cubs got from the Padres have played in the minor leagues yet. But neither had Tatis, five years ago.

And as I have noted elsewhere, the Cubs could still contend in the NL Central in 2021 even after trading Darvish:

As Hoyer planned the reboot, he could make the Darvish trade — and perhaps more to come by the trading deadline — because of the lack of spending in the NL Central. The Cardinals have not seemed inclined to add any big pieces. The Brewers can’t afford to. The Reds seemed poised to be back in the high life, but they are losing Trevor Bauer, traded Raisel Iglesias and are moving on to their next window. And the Pirates are not going to add high-priced players.

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“Perhaps more to come by the trading deadline.” Well, maybe. That would depend on how the Cubs are doing in the division race, no? If the Cubs are in first place at the deadline, would they still trade potential free agents Bryant, Baez and Rizzo? I’d think they’d rather hang on to them in that case, even if this Cubs team doesn’t seem likely to win any postseason round — and remember, we still don’t know what sort of postseason we’re going to have. It could wind up being expanded to the point of having wild-card series again, as we did in October 2020.

I don’t believe the Cubs are going to trade Willson Contreras, despite the rumors out there. He’s not expensive and he’s under team control through 2022. Jed Hoyer and his team should be working on a contract extension for Willson, in my view. As Gammons notes:

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When there is a restoration of normality at Wrigleyville, the Ricketts family investments will begin to profit again. The Darvish trade will free them of $19 million to use on player payroll.

Get it done, Cubs. Because if you don’t, those Wrigleyville profits might not happen.

Cory Abbott Jersey

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Today the Chicago Cubs added three prospects to their 40-man roster in advance of the deadline to do so for Rule 5 Draft purposes: righties Cory Abbott and Keegan Thompson, and infielder Christopher Morel.

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Not surprisingly or coincidentally, these three are probably the best Cubs prospects who were eligible for Rule 5 selection this year, thus they get protected. As we’ve discussed this week, that still doesn’t make it quite a lock to add a guy to the 40-man roster (not all good prospects would get drafted in the Rule 5, because they can’t necessarily stick on a big league roster the next year), but these guys were close enough and/or talented enough that the Cubs didn’t want to mess around.

Much more from Bryan on Morel here and Abbott here, with a bit on Thompson, too. Morel is one of the Cubs’ highest upside prospects, and was at the alternate site this past year (but has not played games above Low-A). He’ll probably play at High-A next season – third base, most likely – and we’ll see how the weird 2020 season treated his development.

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Cory Abbott may be an internal option to provide depth for the Cubs in 2021.
Over the past year, I have spoken at varying lengths about the Chicago Cubs‘ future options within the rotation and how it projects moving forward into the coming seasons. One of those prospects who has been discussed at different points is right-handed pitcher Cory Abbott.

Abbott ranked as Baseball America‘s 149th prospect in the 2017 MLB Draft. His first professional action came at Class-A Short Season, where he started five games and finished with a 3.86 ERA over 14 innings. Each start encapsulated a few innings where Abbott could get his feet wet at a higher level.

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From 2018 to the present, the 25-year-old has serenely climbed the rankings ladder within the organization. In 2018, Abbott ranked as the number 16 overall prospect in Chicago’s pipeline. After a strong showing the season before, he cracked the top ten in 2019, moving between Class-A South Bend and Class-A Advanced Myrtle Beach. He posted a collective 2.50 ERA in 115 innings.

Last season Abbott made the jump to Double-A Tennessee. His final five starts at Myrtle Beach encapsulated a stretch of ball where he posted a 0.67 ERA over 27 innings where Abbott posted a 27.4 percent strikeout percentage and a 2.80 FIP.

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The continued growth Abbott displayed shone through with the Smokies. He made a career-high 26 starts, finishing with ten quality starts and a 3.01 ERA. His strikeout rate improved, as did his walk rate. Opponents hit barely over .200 off Abbott, and a significant improvement in his WHIP showcased his ability to limit those opposing hitters.

Similar to how Abbott finished his year in 2018 with the Pelicans, he strung together another stretch to end his 2019 campaign in which he posted a staunch 1.17 ERA over his final nine starts. Most impressive was the notable increase once again in his strikeouts as his rate soared to 34.5 percent. In a fun and strangely consistent finish, Abbott also posted a 2.80 FIP in those final starts.

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Patrick Mooney, a senior writer at The Athletic and Cubs correspondent at Baseball America, recently wrote a piece on Abbott. Coming off a shoulder injury that punctuated his pre-spring training throwing program, the right-hander touched on working his way back and staying in the purview as a future rotation option.

NEXT: Five Cubs prospects you’ll see in Chicago in 2021
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Regarding 2021 and the expected roster shakeup inevitably heading the Cubs’ way, Abbott can very much be in consideration for a back-end role in the rotation. In the past, he has been scouted as a future number four starter, and if the Cubs wish to continue to grow the crop of the farm, Abbott represents the perfect option and should be on fans’ radar next year.

Abbott and Thompson are just-about-big-league-ready starting pitchers, with Abbott the Cubs’ 2019 minor league pitcher of the year, and Thompson potentially just as effective, though slowed by injuries. Each could easily factor into the depth starting mix for the Cubs in 2021, though each figures to start the year in the Iowa Cubs rotation.

The Cubs 40-man roster now stands at 37.