Looking back on the Cubs' deadline deals


Looking back on the Cubs' deadline deals

The 2012 Cubs could have had a representative on the AL-pennant-winning Tigers, as utilityman and lefty-masher Jeff Baker was dealt to Detroit at the trading deadline.

The only thing is, Baker was then dealt to the Braves roughly a month after the initial trade, and finished the year in Atlanta.

As it was, none of the Cubs' deals at the deadline had any impact on the MLB postseason landscape and in fact, both teams (Rangers, Braves) that wound up with the five former Cubs lost in their respective Wild Card play-in games.

Let's take a look at how the ex-Cubs fared on their new teams, and how the stable of young talent the Cubs received in return finished out the season:


Ryan Dempster, TEX

Dempster put up a 5.09 ERA and 1.44 WHIP over 12 starts in Texas, but did compile a 7-3 record with 70 strikeouts in 69 innings. He didn't appear in the Rangers' lone playoff game, but he was a big reason why Texas had to participate in the one-game, winner-take-all matchup with the Orioles. Dempster allowed five runs on six hits and a walk in just three innings to the A's on the final day of the season, allowing Oakland to complete their miraculous run and capture the AL West.

What's next: Dempster is a free agent. Don't be surprised if he signs with the Dodgers, the team he originally wanted to be traded to.

Geovany Soto, TEX

Soto struggled during his time with the Cubs to start the season (.199 AVG, .631 OPS) and became expendable with the emergence of Welington Castillo and Steve Clevenger. The change of scenery didn't help the veteran catcher, as he actually hit a little worse in Texas (.196 AVG, .591 OPS). Soto played in 47 games for the Rangers, including the playoff game, in which he went 0-for-2 with a strikeout.

What's next: Soto is entering his third and final year of arbitration. With Mike Napoli currently a free agent, the Rangers may very well have interest in bringing Soto back next season.

Paul Maholm, ATL

The veteran southpaw enjoyed arguably his best pro season in 2012, turning in a 9-6 record and 3.74 ERA while with the Cubs. Maholm was even better with the Braves, posting a 3.54 ERA and 1.19 WHIP. It certainly was not his fault Atlanta didn't advance further in the playoffs.

What's next: Maholm has a 6.5 million team option on his contract, which is very affordable for a quality starting pitcher. It would not be shocking to see the Braves pick that option up.

Reed Johnson, ATL

Johnson, a fan favorite as a fourth outfielder and veteran presence while with the Cubs, held the same role in Atlanta, playing largely against left-handers. He hit .270.305.320, a rather significant drop from the .302.355.444 line he put up with the Cubs in 2012. He did not play in the one-game playoff.

What's next: Johnson is a free agent and provides value for a discounted price. There likely won't be a fit for him with the Cubs in 2013, but that could always change.

Jeff Baker, DETATL

Baker appeared in 15 games for the Tigers (about once every other contest), and struggled to find his groove, hitting just .200 with a .500 OPS. He was even worse in Atlanta, where he was used primarily as a pinch-hitter, posting a .105 AVG and .255 OPS. He also did not appear in the one-game playoff.

What's next: Baker just finished his third and final year of arbitration and is set to become a free agent for the first time in his career. Will sign on somewhere as a utility player, getting at-bats mostly against lefties.


Jaye Chapman, RHP

Chapman, 25, is a former 16th-round draft pick coming over in the MaholmJohnson deal. He appeared in 10 games in the minors before making his MLB debut in September. He performed OK in 14 games down the stretch with a 3.75 ERA, 1.50 WHIP and 12 whiffs in 12 innings. Chapman boasts an above-average changeup, but may rely on it a bit too much.

What's next: Chapman has a chance to make the big-league bullpen with a strong showing in spring training, and will head back to Triple-A Iowa if that doesn't work out.

Arodys Vizcaino, RHP

Vizcaino, acquired from the Braves, was sidelined all season with Tommy John surgery, but should be good to go come spring. He turns 22 in November and has been ranked as one of the Top 100 prospects by Baseball America for three straight years. The Cubs have already said they will handle Vizcaino with care next year, and because of that, he may wind up in Triple-A to start the season. But he will surely get some time on the big-league roster at some point in 2013, though it remains to be seen whether it will be as a starter or reliever.

Jacob Brigham, RHP

Acquired in the Soto deal, Brigham made just two starts with the Cubs to end 2012, both for Double-A Tennessee. He got lit up, surrendering nine runs on 11 hits and four walks in just 3.2 innings. Brigham, 24, has never climbed above Double-A and has a 4.49 career ERA, though he provides value as a starting pitching option in a Cubs system that is decidedly shallow in that area.

What's next: Brigham will start 2013 in the minor leagues, pitching at either Tennessee or Iowa.

Kyle Hendricks, RHP

Hendricks came to the Cubs in the Dempster deal and the 22-year-old righty finished the season making five appearances -- four starts -- for High-A Daytona. He was 1-0 with a 4.24 ERA and 1.18 WHIP in those five games and finished the season at 6-8 with a 2.99 ERA and 1.07 WHIP in 25 games (24 starts) overall. Hendricks has not been considered one of the top prospects in the game, but is just two years into his professional career.

What's next: The former 8th-round draft pick may start the season at High-A Daytona in 2013, but should wind up getting some experience in Double-A.

Christian Villanueva, 3B

Villanueva was the main piece in the Dempster trade and the 21-year-old third baseman has impressed some -- he was voted the No. 100 prospect by Baseball America prior to the 2012 season -- despite his size (5-foot-11, 160 pounds). Villanueva hit .250.337.452 in 25 games (95 plate appearances) at High-A Daytona with the Cubs after the trade and finished the season at .279.353.427 overall. He has 53 steals and 33 homers in his minor-league career, but appears to be more of a gap hitter at this stage in his career.

What's next: Villanueva won't turn 22 until the middle of next season and the native of Guadalajara, Mexico may get a promotion to Double-A Tennessee at some point in the 2013 season, though he will likely start in Daytona to get more seasoning.

Marcelo Carreno, RHP

Ah, the good, old PTBNL (player to be named later). Carreno came over to the Cubs in mid-October to conclude the Jeff Baker deal with the Tigers. The 21-year-old righty has 84 career starts with a 3.70 ERA and 1.23 WHIP. He put together a very solid 2012 season for Single-A West Michigan, posting a 9-8 record, 3.23 ERA and 1.13 WHIP in 27 starts.

What's next: The Venezuelan righty may start 2013 with the newly-acquired Kane County Cougars (Single-A) or may get a promotion to High-A Daytona. Depending on his development, Carreno could finish next year with Double-A Tennessee, but that seems overly optimistic.

Kyle Hendricks outduels Clayton Kershaw and delivers legendary performance that puts Cubs in World Series

Kyle Hendricks outduels Clayton Kershaw and delivers legendary performance that puts Cubs in World Series

John Hendricks sent a text message to his son at 11:24 a.m. on Saturday: “Good luck tonight!! Remember, great mechanics and preparation will prevail. Just let it go!!” It ended with three emoji: a smiley face with sunglasses, the thumbs-up sign and a flexed biceps.

The Cubs have bonded fathers and sons for generations, and Hendricks immediately understood what it meant for his boy when the Cubs traded Ryan Dempster to the Texas Rangers minutes before the deadline on July 31, 2012, telling Kyle: “You win in this city, you will be a legend. There is no doubt about it. This is the greatest sports town in the United States.”

This is the intoxicating lure of the Cubs. It didn’t matter that Kyle had been an eighth-round pick out of Dartmouth College, and hadn’t yet finished his first full season in professional baseball, and would be joining an organization enduring a 101-loss season, the third of five straight fifth-place finishes.

Kyle’s low-key personality will never get him confused with an ’85 Bear, but he delivered a legendary performance in Game 6, outpitching Clayton Kershaw at the end of this National League Championship Series and leading the Cubs to the World Series for the first time in 71 years.

Five outs away from the pennant, a raucous crowd of 42,386 at Wrigley Field actually booed star manager Joe Maddon when he walked out to the mound to take the ball from Kyle and bring in closer Aroldis Chapman. Kyle, the silent assassin, did briefly raise his hand to acknowledge the standing ovation before descending the dugout steps. 

After a 5-0 win, Kyle stood in roughly the same spot with Nike goggles on his head and finally looked a little rattled, his body shivering and teeth chattering in the cold, his Cubs gear soaked from the champagne-and-beer celebration.

“It’s always been an uphill climb for me, honestly,” Kyle said. “But that really has nothing to do with getting guys out. My focus from Day 1 – even when I was young, high school, college, all the way up until now – all it’s been is trying to make good pitches. 

“And as we moved up, you just saw that good pitches get good hitters out.” 

At a time when the game is obsessed with velocity and showing off for the radar gun, Kyle knows how to pitch, putting the ball where he wants when he wants, avoiding the hot zones that lead to trouble, mixing his changeups, fastballs and curveball in an unpredictable way that takes advantage of the team’s intricate scouting system and keeps hitters completely off-balance.

“Kyle didn’t even give them any air or any hope,” general manager Jed Hoyer said.

Amid the celebration, scouting/player-development chief Jason McLeod spotted Kyle’s dad and yelled at John: “You f------ called it!” John – who once worked in the Angels ticket office and as a golf pro in Southern California – had moved to Chicago two years ago to work for his good friend’s limo company and watch his son pitch at Wrigley Field. John had told McLeod that Kyle would one day help the Cubs win a championship.

“That was one of the best pitching performances I’ve ever seen,” McLeod said. “Ever.”

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The media framed Kyle as The Other Pitcher, even though he won the ERA title this season, with all the pregame buzz surrounding Kershaw, the three-time Cy Young Award winner and 2014 NL MVP. Except Kershaw gave up five runs and got knocked out after five innings, while Kyle only gave up two singles to the 23 batters he faced, finishing with six strikeouts against zero walks and looking like he had even more left in the tank at 88 pitches.

“It was incredible,” Ben Zobrist said. “That was the easiest postseason game we’ve had yet and it was the clincher to go to the World Series. 

“He’s just so good, so mature for his age. He just has a knack to put the ball where he needs to. He’s smart and he’s clutch. He deserves to win the Cy Young this year.”

Where Kershaw’s presence loomed over the entire playoffs, Kyle has always been underestimated, coming into this season as a fourth or fifth starter with something to prove, and even he didn’t see all this coming. But big-game pitchers can come in all shapes and sizes and don’t have to throw 97 mph. 

“He wants the ball,” John said. “Every big game – I don’t care if it was Little League or wherever – he wants the ball. Plain and simple, (he’ll) get the job done.”

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