The Chicago Cubs pulled off a number of trades prior to baseball's non-waiver trade deadline. Matt Garza and Alfonso Soriano still call Wrigley Field home, despite numerous rumors over the past several weeks.
The Cubbies dealt Dempster and Soto to Texas in separate trades. Dempster reportedly rejected a trade to the Atlanta Braves last week that would have netted the Cubs young starter Randall Delgado. Dempster apparently wanted to play for the Los Angeles Dodgers, where he could team up with former Cubs teammate Ted Lilly. The Cubs and Dodgers were unable to agree to a trade, and Dempster ultimately decided to take a shot at a postseason berth with Texas rather than trying to avoid 100 losses as a Cub. The Cubs received minor-league pitcher Kyle Hendricks and infielder Christian Villanueva in return for Dempster.
The Dempster trade is a downer for Cubs fans. The thought of acquiring Delgado, a major-league ready starter, from Atlanta looked be a major coup for Chicago's new front office. Delgado would have immediately assumed Dempster's place in the Cubs' rotation. Hendricks and Villanueva may be fine young men, but they aren't nearly as highly regarded as Delgado and won't be helping out the Cubs any time soon.
Soto was traded to Texas on Monday night for minor-league pitcher Jacob Brigham and a player to be named. Soto clubbed 23 home runs and posted a .868 OPS in his first full big league season in 2008. He was an offensive roller coaster from that point forward, posting lackluster numbers in 2009 and 2011. The 2012 season has been the worst of Soto's major-league career. He battled through injuries and posted an anemic .631 OPS in 52 games for the Cubs prior to Monday's trade.
Brigham, a former sixth-round draft choice of the Rangers, went 5-5 with a 4.28 ERA in 21 starts for Double-A Frisco. The right-hander will add much-needed depth to Chicago's pitching thin farm system. Hendricks and Villanueva were both with Myrtle Beach of the Single-A Carolina League prior to the Dempster trade. Hendricks posted an impressive 2.82 ERA and 1.06 WHIP in 20 starts. He's walked just 15 batters in 130 2/3 innings this season. The 21-year-old Villanueva has put up solid power numbers in his minor-league career. He's hit 29 home runs and amassed a .789 OPS in 285 minor-league games. Villanueva figures to add to Chicago's growing stable of infield prospects.
The trades of Dempster and Soto won't have much impact on the Cubs' major league roster in the near term. All of the prospects acquired will likely require additional minor league seasoning. Only Villanueva ranked among the Rangers' top 10 prospects prior to the 2012 season.
*Information provided by http://www.baseball-reference.com/teams and http://www.baseballamerica.com/today.
Dan Soderberg is a freelance baseball writer who hopes to one day retire to the Wrigley Field bleachers.
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