Chicago Cubs fans have been waiting for the July 31 trade deadline to arrive for a couple of months now, expecting the team to deal starting pitchers Ryan Dempster and Matt Garza in an effort to bolster the minor league system. With the deadline less than 24 hours away, however, Chicago had not moved either starter but reportedly have traded other veterans. Tuesday should be interesting as team president Theo Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer continue to negotiate with other clubs.
Johnson and Maholm were sent to the Atlanta Braves for right-handed pitching prospects Arodys Vizcaino and Jaye Chapman. Vizcaino is only 21 and was one of the Braves' top two or three prospects before needing Tommy John surgery in March. Chapman was 3-6 with seven saves and a 3.52 ERA at Triple-A Gwinnett this season. His career Triple-A ERA is 3.25.
If Vizcaino bounces back from his injury and contributes anything at all to the Cubs in the future, this is probably a good trade. Still, as a fan I hate seeing Johnson and Maholm go. Johnson is a free agent at the end of the season, and fans knew when he was signed that he would likely be traded at the deadline, if the team were out of contention and he played to his abilities.
Including Maholm was a little more surprising to me. It almost feels like the Cubs might be bracing for Dempster and Garza finishing this season in Chicago and wanted to trade at least one starter. Maholm is 9-6 this year with a 3.74 ERA. Furthermore, he is under team control next season, which is likely what made this trade so attractive to the Braves. If there is a chance that Dempster and Garza will both be gone before the start of the 2013 season, Maholm would have been a great arm to have around.
The team has not yet officially announced the Geovany Soto trade. Chicago's 670 AM is reporting that he has been dealt to the Texas Rangers after being removed (along with Johnson) from Monday night's game in the fifth inning. Soto had three good seasons earlier in his career, including 2008 when he was named the NL Rookie of the Year. The Cubs will avoid arbitration with Soto and receive prospect Jacob Brigham from Texas, according to reports.
Rumors involving Dempster, Garza, Alfonso Soriano and other Cubs will be swirling all day on Tuesday. With the team still sitting 15 games under .500, we'll take any excitement we can get.
Mike Patton is a sports fan who grew up in New Orleans cheering for the New Orleans Saints, Chicago Cubs, and LSU Tigers. As a kid in 1987, he made his first trip to Wrigley Field and also slept outside of the Louisiana Superdome to purchase playoff tickets for the Saints' first postseason appearance. Follow Mike on twitter @MikePattonGBS.