The Chicago Cubs dismantled their entire organization during the trade deadline. Only Jason Heyward, Willson Contreras, and Kyle Hendricks remain from their 2016 World Series-winning roster. It was tough when they traded Anthony Rizzo to the New York Yankees, Javier Baez to the New York Mets, and Kris Bryant to the San Francisco Giants. All of those guys meant so much to the team and they all landed the Cubs minimal returns based on their contract situation.
Craig Kimbrel wasn’t a part of that team in 2016 but he was an elite player for the Cubs at times. He also net them the largest return out of all their trade chips. The Cubs traded him to the Chicago White Sox in exchange for Nick Madrigal and Codi Heuer. This is a great return for the Cubs even if it might not seem like it on the surface.
Let’s start with Nick Madrigal. He is out for the year because of a hamstring injury that he sustained earlier this season. When he is healthy, however, he is an elite contact hitting second baseman. The White Sox made him the 4th overall pick in the 2018 MLB Draft and he has lived up to all of his hype.
This is a player that won’t hit a lot of home runs but his pop is developing a little bit more as well. He could, in the meantime, win a batting title in any given year. Pitches don’t miss his bat very often and he will barely strike out as a result. He is never out of a count because of his ability to put the bat on the ball with two strikes.
Madrigal is also a former Minor League Gold Glove winner. He is still adjusting to Major League defense but he is coming along. By the time he reaches his peak, he should be able to be a Gold Glove Caliver defender.
The Chicago Cubs are hoping that both pieces they received from the White Sox work out.
Now, Codi Heuer. He is a relief pitcher that was so good in 2020. The White Sox thought he would be one of their key bullpen pieces in their quest for a 2021 pennant but it hasn’t been there for him this season.
His biggest issue is his command early in counts. If he goes down 2-0 or 3-0, he is forced to throw fastballs down the middle and the other team crushes it oftentimes. With that said, his stuff is so nasty that if he gets ahead in the count, he will put you away with ease. The proof of this opinion is factually based on the fact that he has 39 strikeouts and only 10 walks despite having a very high 1.422 WHIP and 5.12 ERA.
His WHIP/ERA is clearly high because of hits, not walks. That should leave the Cubs to believe that if he works on his command, he could become an elite bullpen piece. With the Cubs, he will be able to work on his development more than working on winning like he would have to on the White Sox.
As a result, this is a great trade for both teams. The Cubs need to make sure that they manage these two assets right because if they do they will thrive. As for the White Sox, good luck to the rest of the American League facing Craig Kimbrel, Liam Hendriks, and Michael Kopech all in the same bullpen.