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Cubs Trade Tony Campana for Two Pitchers--What a Steal

Cubs Trade Fan Favorite Tony Campana to Arizona for Two Teenage Prospects

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COMMENTARY | I never expected the Chicago Cubs to get a return for Tony Campana after designating him for assignment on Feb. 10.

With it being so close to pitchers and catchers reporting for spring training, and most teams having settled their 40-man rosters, Campana seemed more likely to get plucked off waivers, if not passed over entirely, before he was traded.

Instead, the Cubs pulled off a deal sending Campana, 26, to the Arizona Diamondbacks on Feb. 18, netting in return two 17-year-old, right-handed pitching prospects: Erick Leal and Jesus Castillo.

It's hard to forecast what could come of both teenage hurlers from Venezuela, who spent last season playing in the Dominican Summer League. But we know the Cubs need pitching, and something in return for Campana was better than nothing.

Meanwhile, Arizona should be a welcomed opportunity for Campana, even though he's leaving one crowded outfield to join another.

The Diamondbacks already have two backup outfielders in Gerardo Parra and A.J. Pollock, who they're counting on to relieve starters Jason Kubel, Adam Eaton and Cody Ross.

However, those five players combined for only 21 stolen bases last season, and Parra accounted for 15 of them.

Additionally, this offseason the D-backs traded away outfielders Justin Upton, who tied for the team lead with 18 steals last season, and Chris Young, who stole eight bags.

As a team Arizona finished 12/16 in the National League in stolen bases last season. And only Pittsburgh (52) was caught stealing more times than the D-backs (51).

Enter Campana, who swiped 30 bases in 33 attempts last year, and has totaled 54 steals in 59 attempts during the past two seasons.

With a formidable roster in place heading into 2013, the Diamondbacks can afford to add a one-dimensional speed player like Campana, a luxury the rebuilding 101-loss Cubs could not afford.

But the change of scenery also gives Campana the chance to learn from a new coaching staff and continue to get instruction at becoming a better hitter.

His fate as a major-league player will ultimately be tied to improving his pop-gun bat and weak on-base percentage, which was sorely exposed in his two seasons playing with the Cubs.

Given Campana has two Minor League options left, it's likely he'll begin the season with Triple-A Reno. But it's more likely the Diamondbacks will need his speed sooner than later to compete against the reigning world champion San Francisco Giants and the high-powered Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL West.

Campana's boyish good looks and world class speed won over throngs of Cubs fans since his Major League debut in May of 2011, making the recent trade a tough pill to swallow.

But the departure of Campana is one sign the Cubs have added more talent to the roster and are moving in the right direction with the rebuild.

Eventually we can expect the Cubs to be in a position to round out their roster with a dynamic situational player like Campana, perhaps in a year or two.

Right now, however, two no-name prospects make more sense for the Cubs than a scrappy, over-matched fourth outfielder, even if he is the best base stealing threat in all of baseball.

Brian Corbin is a Chicago-based sports blogger. He's covered the Cubs year-round at BullpenBrian.com since 2007. His posts have been published on the Chicago Sun-Times News Group web sites and numerous baseball blogs.

You can follow Brian on Twitter @bullpenbrian.

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