There are retooling projects, and then there’s taking a sledgehammer to a team’s most successful lineup in modern history.
Deadline Day became Demolition Day for the Cubs and team president Jed Hoyer. In a span of two days, he dealt World Series heroes Kris Bryant (Giants), Javy Baez (Mets) and Anthony Rizzo (Yankees), plus relievers Craig Kimbrel and Ryan Tepera (both to White Sox), pitcher Trevor Williams (Mets) and outfielder Jake Marisnick (Padres).
What the Cubs will look like next year is anyone’s guess, but this was a mind-blowing series of moves. Everyone was expecting the Cubs to make significant moves at the trade deadline, but perhaps not this many.
Baez has said all along he didn’t want to leave the Cubs. But if he did leave, he’d prefer to play with longtime friend Francisco Lindor. Well, Baez got his secondary wish Friday with a trade to the New York Mets, along with Williams.
Lindor is currently on the injured list with an oblique strain, but when he comes back, it’s probably safe to assume Baez will play second base, the spot he was at when the Cubs closed out the 2016 World Series.
Bryant is heading to San Francisco, where he’ll join the team with the best record in the National League and likely move between third base and the outfield.
The Cubs got two prospects in return from the Giants, according to MLB Network’s Mark Feinsand, led by outfielder Alexander Canario. The Dominican Republic native was listed as the Giants’ No. 9 prospect by mlbpipeline.com. He’s hitting .235 with nine home runs at Single A San Jose.
The Cubs also received right-handed pitcher Caleb Killian. Rated the Giants’ No. 30 prospect, Killian has pitched well this season, with a 1.25 ERA in high A at Eugene (Ore.) and a 2.43 ERA in Double A Richmond.
From the Mets, the Cubs are getting outfielder Peter Crow-Armstrong. The 19-year-old was the Mets’ first-round draft pick in 2020, No. 19 overall, out of renowned Harvard-Westlake High School in Los Angeles. But he’s currently recovering from shoulder surgery in his right, non-throwing arm and won’t be available until next season, most likely.
Crow-Armstrong was just getting started in the minors, playing six games for the Single A St. Lucie Mets before the surgery. In those six games, Crow-Armstrong hit .417 with a .563 on-base percentage.
Armstrong’s parent are both actors. His mom, Holly Crow, was in the movie “Little Big League,” not to be confused with “Rookie of the Year,” which had the storyline of a kid who broke his arm and started throwing 120 mph for the Cubs.
According to an mlb.com story released after the 2020 draft, Crow-Armstrong grew up a Cubs fan and his favorite player was Baez.
In exchange for Marisnick, the Cubs will reportedly receive right-handed pitcher Anderson Espinoza, a Venezuela native. Once a highly-touted prospect, Espinoza had two Tommy John surgeries and did not pitch in the minors from 2017 to 2020. He returned this year and has a 5.02 ERA for Fort Wayne in the Class A Midwest League.
The day began with the Cubs sending Kimbrel to the White Sox for infielder Nick Madrigal and right-handed reliever Codi Heuer.
The Cubs still have three players left who played in the 2016 World Series -- Kyle Hendricks, Willson Contreras and Jason Heyward -- plus Jake Arrieta, who returned this year after a stint in Philadelphia. Former Cubs pitcher Jon Lester was reportedly traded from Washington to St. Louis on Friday.