The Rudown: Imminent Sell-Off Starts With Pederson Trade, Bryant Linked to Mets (Again), COVID Outbreak Postpones Yankees-Rays Game, Ohtani & Guerrero Jr. Chasing Hallowed Benchmarks
“You know, you never let this thing catch on, you never let me be that strong. Goodbye, baby, so long.” – The Blasters, So Long Baby Goodbye
Jed Hoyer jumpstarted his extended offseason by making a trade with the Braves yesterday, sending left fielder Joc Pederson to Atlanta in exchange for minor league first baseman Bryce Ball. The kneejerk reaction on social media was that this signals the imminent trade of Anthony Rizzo, and though Ball has a chance to one day be Chicago’s starting first sacker, it won’t be anytime soon. That doesn’t mean Rizzo is safe by any means, as he’s playing on what could become the Great Dismantling of 2021.
Atlanta Braves are trading their No. 12 prospect, Bryce Ball, to acquire Joc Pederson from the Cubs
Ball this season in High-A:
53 G, .207 AVG, 6 HR, 40 BB, 59 K
— Farm To Fame (@FarmToFame_) July 16, 2021
Ball is a wildcard of sorts and was immediately slotted at No. 29 on the Cubs’ top 30 prospects list at MLB Pipeline. He was No. 12 for the Braves, so I suppose the best takeaway is that Chicago must have a much better farm system than Atlanta does. The young first baseman looked to be on the fast track to the majors after a 2019 season that saw him scorching the ball to the tune of a 1.023 OPS with 17 home runs across two professional levels, but he’s hit the skids since. He comes to the Cubs organization carrying a .207 batting average with six taters in 170 at-bats this year. He’s also striking out at a 27.5% clip, which just seems so perfectly Cubs-like.
Perhaps the team’s hitting instructors can get Ball on track, but he just turned 23 a week ago and he hasn’t advanced past High-A. I doubt this will be the only move Hoyer makes in the next two weeks, but, much like the Yu Darvish trade last winter, it appears Chicago’s front office is focusing on middle-tier depth guys when trading their stars. It will be interesting to see what the returns for Craig Kimbrel or Andrew Chafin will be, or for any of Chicago’s big three, Kris Bryant, Javier Báez, and Rizzo.
At least Ball is an interesting prospect. If the organization can somehow turn him around, who knows? Maybe he will be the next Bryan LaHair, the former surprise All-Star of similar build and ability that Rizzo replaced a decade ago. I think the Gen-Xers would call that baseball’s circle of life.
Cubs News & Notes
- Players who are on team-friendly contracts with at least one more club-controlled season, like Willson Contreras and Kyle Hendricks, could pose a challenge for Hoyer over the next two weeks as each would provide more impactful returns in trade.
- Kimbrel, who carries a team option for next year, is likely the most coveted reliever on the market.
- Baseball America always provides great trade analysis whenever a minor league player is moved from one club to another, and thankfully, their breakdown of the Pederson-Ball trade is available without a subscription. I expect one of CI’s minor league experts will provide a more thorough analysis of Ball soon.
- Hoyer earned a B- grade on the trade from Sports Illustrated
- The acquisition of Ball could shed some light on how Hoyer plans to proceed with the rest of his other complementary rental players.
- According to MLB Insider Jon Heyman, the Mets are among several teams showing interest in Bryant. We’ve been here before so many times.
- Bryant’s father Mike wasn’t too happy that announcers Joe Buck and John Smoltz asked the former MVP about trade speculation while he was mic’d up during the game Tuesday night.
- Kevin Kaduk of the Midway Minute had a differing opinion and said speculation surrounding Bryant is one of the game’s biggest stories right now.
- Hoyer reminded us all just before the All-Star Break that changes to the roster were coming.
- Now that the minor league draft has been completed, the players that sign will start getting their affiliate assignments, Our own Todd Johnson provides insight as to who may go where.
- The Iowa Cubs have extended their season by 10 games, including five at home.
Odds & Sods
Ball earned the nickname “Ball Bunyan” in high school thanks to his physical stature and prodigious power.
I ventured up to Mason City over the winter to chat with Bryce Ball and learn about why the Braves were so excited about him. I walked away hearing some pretty crazy stories. https://t.co/zrQHLlgTtT
— Tommy Birch (@TommyBirch) July 16, 2021
Climbing the Ladder
“Now it seems you don’t care for me, and I don’t understand why.” – Julian Lennon, Much Too Late for Goodbyes
How would you rank the most likely Cubs to be traded over the next two weeks? If I had to take a stab at it, this would be my top 10, from most to least likeliest, leaving the market value of each (or lack thereof) out of the equation.
- Zach Davies
- Ian Happ
- Jake Marisnick
Shockingly (or not), the Cubs may be left with a team where its future will be built around second baseman Nico Hoerner and starter Adbert Alzolay once the dust settles.
How About That!
The Braves said yesterday they have no plans to trade first baseman Freddie Freeman.
Outfielder Joey Gallo hopes to remain with the Rangers after the deadline.
Some cool stories to watch in the second half of the season include the pursuit of 60 home runs by Shohei Ohtani and a potential Triple Crown for All-Star Game MVP Vladimir Guerrero, Jr.
The Tigers have slowly been building their farm system in a way that is being compared to the Astros.
It will be starting pitching that carries the Brewers to a potential NL Central title, but their lack of offense could be their undoing, too.
Marika Lyszczyk is breaking barriers as a female catcher on an NCAA men’s baseball team.
Lottery registration for tickets to the Field of Dreams Game between the White Sox and Yankees in Dyersville, IA begins today.
There is some legitimate concern that the All-Star Game could lead to a number of positive COVID tests after the Yankees announced that three of their players have been quarantined with the infection.
#Rays players and staff – and there were more than 20 – who attended All-Star Game to undergo rapid COVID testing this morning amid reports a #Yankees All-Star tested positive https://t.co/jDV6cpkNgC
— Marc Topkin (@TBTimes_Rays) July 16, 2021
They Said It
- “People talk about rebuilds when you’re doing what we did in 2012. We are going to have roster turnover. Starting with me, and then working down, we have to build a roster that we feel goes into [each] season as a favorite year after year. It’s going to take some turnover to do that.” – Jed Hoyer
- “I’m the person that makes the final decision now, and that’s on my shoulders. But I have a lot of people in the office that are really smart that take the decisions as personally as I do, which is what you need.” – Hoyer
Friday Walk-Up Song
Clocks by Coldplay. Your two minutes with the Chicago Cubs are up, Mr. Pederson. Thank you for your time and efforts.