You don’t always know what you’re getting — or giving up — in an MLB trade
BY DAN MCGRATH For Sun-Times Media July 29, 2013 10:24PM
Milwaukee Brewers v Chicago Cubs
Kyle Lohse, the
Brewers’ starting pitcher Monday, was a member of the Cubs for a hiccup, though he never made it to Wrigley Field with the team.
Lohse, a husky right-hander, was 18 years old when the Cubs picked him in the 29th round of the 1996 amateur draft out of Butte Community College in Northern California, Aaron Rodgers’ alma mater. Three years later, he was laboring at Daytona in the Class A Florida State League when the Cubs decided they needed bullpen help after Rod Beck broke down. They included Lohse in a four-player deal with the Twins that brought Rick Aguilera to Chicago.
Aguilera, then 37, was 7-5 with a 4.31 ERA and 37 saves in two seasons with the Cubs, but he retired after the 2000 season. Lohse reached the majors with the Twins in 2001, muddling along as a sub.-500 pitcher until he signed with the Cardinals in 2008. A Dave Duncan reclamation project, Lohse parlayed a 55-35 record with the Cardinals into a three-year, $33 million contract with the Brewers.
Jake Arrieta, a pitcher whom the Cubs acquired from the Orioles in a deal for pitcher Scott Feldman this month, will start the second game of a doubleheader Tuesday. The Cubs will be delighted if Arrieta, 27, turns into another Lohse, a prospect who develops into a performer after being acquired for a veteran.
It happens. Cubs fans with an eye for the agate type of the ‘‘Transactions’’ column might have recognized Chris Archer’s name after the 24-year-old Rays pitcher shut out the Yankees 1-0 on just 97 pitches Saturday. Archer was a member of the Cubs for about as long as Lohse was, arriving from the Indians in the deal for utility player Mark DeRosa after the 2008 season. In 2011, the Cubs packaged Archer with outfielder Sam Fuld and two other prospects to acquire pitcher Matt Garza from
Archer is 6-3 with a 2.39 ERA for the rampaging Rays, taking the rotation spot created when they dealt James Shields to the Royals for young slugger Wil Myers last winter. Garza went 21-18 with the Cubs and was flipped to the Rangers for top prospect Mike Olt, pitcher Justin Grimm and two other players, giving the Cubs four chances to offset Archer’s value.
Olt is a third baseman, as is Kris Bryant, whom the Cubs selected with the No. 2 overall choice in the draft last month. They have been making due with Luis Valbuena and Cody Ransom at the position this season, but their need might not be so acute if they hadn’t included Josh Donaldson in the deal that brought pitcher Rich Harden from the Athletics before the 2008 trade deadline.
Harden, arriving with fellow pitcher Chad Gaudin, helped the Cubs win their last division title, going 5-1 with a 1.77 ERA in 12 starts before losing Game 3 of the National League Division Series to the Dodgers. He was 9-9 with a 4.09 ERA in 2009, but the Cubs decided not to re-sign him after chronic shoulder trouble limited him to 26 starts and just as many towel drills.
Harden appeared in 20 games with the Rangers in 2010 and in 15 with the A’s in 2011, but he didn’t pitch last season and probably is finished after the Twins released him from their system last week. He leaves with a 59-38 career record and a 3.76 ERA — at age 31.
Donaldson is 27 and going strong, but who knew? The Cubs also included outfielder Matt Murton and infielder Eric Patterson in the Harden deal, and they were considered more valuable pieces, even though Donaldson had been a first-round draft pick out of Auburn in 2007. But he wasn’t going to make the big leagues as a catcher, which the A’s realized when they moved him out from behind the plate for good in 2011. Now a full-time third baseman, Donaldson has been the first-place A’s best hitter this season, with 16 homers, 61 RBI and a .296 average.
The Cubs have acquired eight new players in the last month, sacrificing Feldman, Garza, outfielder Alfonso Soriano and reliever Carlos Marmol for the sake of more organizational depth. Kevin Gregg, their 35-year-old closer, might be next, but who knew his suddenly resurgent club would present him with 25 save opportunities, 22 of which he has converted?
‘‘It’s pretty personal because we are people and we do have feelings,’’ Gregg said. ‘‘It’s also a business, and we’re all aware that trades are part of the game. But I like it here. I really like what’s going on.’’