The smartest trade Cubs made at 2022 deadline originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
For all the criticism the Cubs received after holding on to top trade chips Ian Happ and Willson Contreras at the deadline, trading Scott Effross to the Yankees was a smart move.
Yes, dealing one of David Ross’ most-trusted and oft-used relievers hurts the Cubs in the present.
But acquiring promising starting pitching prospect Hayden Wesneski is a move that could pay dividends in the near future and years to come — for both sides.
“A difficult trade to make, in the sense I really think Scott is an excellent pitcher and we controlled him for five years” team president Jed Hoyer said of the deal that sent the 24-year-old Wesneski to the Cubs.
“At the same time, given what we’re trying to build here, I thought that deal really made sense for the Cubs to do.”
The Cubs could have kept Effross, who’s under club control through 2027 and is an organizational success story after converting to sidearm in 2019 and quickly climbing the organizational ranks.
One thing they’ve shown year after year is they have a knack for putting together good bullpens with homegrown relievers and savvy free agent additions. The Effross move is a signal of confidence they have in developing relievers.
They’ve struggled to develop homegrown starting pitching, and though they’ve started to buck that trend, moving Effross added a potential long-term rotation piece to an already budding pitching pipeline.
“Teams are always much more willing to give up value when it comes to a player that’s under control for a number of years, and obviously he was having a great year,” said Hoyer, calling Effross’ market “aggressive.”
“I think the world of Scott,” Hoyer added. “He’s been in the organization a long time, been through a lot of ups and downs — obviously, to drop his arm slot in order to continue his career and it couldn’t have worked any better.
“I really respect his journey. But for us, we just felt like the ability to add a really talented starting pitching prospect made a lot of sense.”
Wesneski was the Yankees’ No. 7 overall prospect and slots in at No. 8 in the Cubs’ system, according to MLB Pipeline. He was ranked fourth overall and the Yankees’ top pitching prospect by Baseball America.
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The Cubs have familiarity with him as assistant pitching coach Daniel Moskos was Wesneski’s Double-A pitching coach in 2021.
The Cubs assigned Wesneski to the Iowa Cubs, and he’s had a good year in Triple-A: 19 starts, 3.51 ERA, 1.149 WHIP, 83 strikeouts, 28 walks, 89 2/3 innings.
Hoyer didn’t speculate whether he could make his big-league debut this season. But what the right-hander has done this year shows he’s not that far off.
“I don’t want to go there yet,” Hoyer said. “But certainly we’re going to be watching him carefully in Iowa.”
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