Last week, the Chicago Cubs signed longtime big-league starter Brett Anderson to a one-year deal to shore up their pitching depth. The Cubs added another potential reinforcement on Wednesday, acquiring Eddie Butler from the Colorado Rockies in a trade that included a minor-league pitcher and a swap of international bonus slots:
With due respect to James Farris and the players signed using those international bonus slots, Butler is the headliner of the package. Blame it on his pedigree. Butler was the 46th overall pick in the 2012 draft, and soon find himself near the top of prospect lists — both Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus ranked him in the top-30 prior to the 2014 season.
Yet in the time since, Butler has failed to taste big-league success. He’s appeared in 36 games over the last three seasons, all the while posting a 6.50 ERA and 1.34 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Though equipped with a mid-90s sinker, Butler has struggled to miss bats and barrels, leading to absurdly high hit (12) and home-run (1.6) per nine rates. Add in his control problems (he’s walked four per nine) and you’re left with little, if any statistical silver lining.
Nonetheless, you can guess that the Cubs are thinking something like this: Butler is a 25-year-old not far removed from top prospect consideration. It can’t hurt to get him away from Coors Field, or to tinker with his mechanics, or maybe even to throw him into the bullpen, where his sinker-slider combination could become more effective. The upside is the Cubs tap into some of Butler’s seemingly lost potential. The downside? We never mention Butler again.
The latter seems more likely, but it’s worth a shot all the same.
Source: CBS Sports Headlines / Low risk, high reward? Champion Cubs trade for a former top prospect arm