The Cubs trade of Yu Darvish and Victor Caratini to the Padres for Reginald Preciado, Owen Caissie, Ismael Mena, Yeison Santana, and Zach Davies has drawn a lot of criticism. Outside of Davies, only Santana has played professional baseball. Before the trade, I had no clue who these players are and had to do some research. Santana is 20, Mena, 18, Caissie 18, and Preciado 17. The projected major league arrivals of these players is between 2023-2024. Selling off a Cy Young contender for a package of teenagers signals a rebuild to the fanbase. The economics of baseball at the moment means clubs are having to make tough financial decisions. The Cubs will only have to pay $5 million dollars of the $59 million dollars remaining on Darvish’s contract. I consider that a victory.
Looking into these prospects may help to explain the Cubs decision. Preciado looks to be the centerpiece of the trade. He was signed for $1.3 Million dollars by the Padres in 2019. The signing is the highest ever given to a player coming out of Panama. As a Switch-hitting shortstop, Preciado gives the Cubs another infield option up the middle along with Ed Howard. Caissie was a 2nd round pick for the Padres in 2019. The selection made him the highest ever Canadian outfielder drafted. His profile is as a corner outfielder. Power from the left side plays well in Wrigley Field and Caissie has it. Mena is another left-handed power hitting outfielder. His arrival to the Padres was to the tune of $2.2 million dollars in 2019. Imagine signing a contract for $2.2 million dollars as a 16-year-old. Santana is the old man of the group, but still can’t legally buy beer. He’s the only one with professional AB’s and profiles as a shortstop. What’s nice about shortstop prospects is they are often capable of transitioning to other positions in the future. Zach Davies is a back-end of the rotation starter that may help in 2020 or get flipped for more prospects.
Looking into the prospects helps to understand the trade. It takes two to tango in making trades. If the Cubs had already received a better offer for Darvish, don’t you believe they already would have made the trade? Ready now prospects like MacKenzie Gore probably weren’t an option. This was the best they could get in today’s market. The lottery tickets make sense as the farm system is depleted from trades and having to draft late. I believe a major reason the Cubs were forced to move Darvish is because he’s the big contract another team actually wanted. I don’t see anyone helping get the Cubs off the hook for Craig Kimbrell (1 yr $16 million with a buyout) or Jason Heyward (3 yrs $65 Million). The Cubs would have to pay off a majority of the money to expedite a trade of either player. The bad money of Jon Lester, Jose Quintana, Tyler Chatwood, and Brandon Morrow off the books also helps the Cubs save money. Non-tendering Kyle Schwarber was also another clue that the Cubs main objective this offseason was to shed payroll.
I see getting out of $54 million dollars and paying $5 million dollars for 4 lottery tickets as worth the gamble. Darvish is a terrific pitcher, but has only thrown 200 innings in a season once. At age 34, the time to sell would be now coming off a Cy Young runner up. At the moment the Cubs projected starting rotation top 3 is Kyle Hendricks, Alec Mills, and Zach Davies. Now we’ll have to see if the savings are reinvested in Javy Baez or being aggressive in free agency. I would think some of the money will be spent on veteran starting pitching.