The trade also includes the Cubs sending their top international bonus slot, No. 28 overall, to the Rockies in exchange for a lower slot — No. 74 overall. The swap of international slots adds an additional $255K to the Rockies’ international signing pool. To make room on the roster for Butler, the Cubs designated right-hander Dylan Floro for assignment.
Butler, who’ll turn 26 in March, once rated among the game’s top 50 prospects in the eyes of Baseball America, MLB.com and Baseball Prospectus, but the right-hander’s stock has tumbled substantially since that time. Butler has logged consistently impressive ground-ball rates as a professional but has never missed bats or been able to demonstrate exemplary command at any level. In parts of three big league seasons with the Rox, he’s struggled to a 6.50 ERA with 5.3 K/9, 4.0 BB/9 and a 48.6 percent ground-ball rate. His work in Triple-A (5.01 ERA, 4.3 BB/9, 3.1 BB/9 in 159 innings) doesn’t look much better on paper.
As recently as the 2014-15 offseason, though, Butler ranked as Baseball America’s No. 77 overall prospect, and prior to that he rated 24th overall. Butler’s career has been slowed by some shoulder troubles to date, but when his prospect status was at its best, BA’s scouting reports (subscription required/recommended) lauded his power sinker and “extraordinary” changeup while giving him credit for three plus pitches and a solid-average slider. His velocity has taken a step back since that time (perhaps due to the shoulder woes), but Butler does have a minor league option remaining. As such, he’s likely to open the season at Triple-A Iowa and look to get his career back on track, potentially serving as a depth piece for a Cubs team that will look to deploy a six-man rotation in the latter stages of the season. Chicago also lacks a defined fifth starter at this time, with lefties Mike Montgomery and Brett Anderson set to vie for that job in Spring Training.
This marks the second DFA of the winter for the 26-year-old Floro, who made his Major League debut with the Rays last season. In 15 innings with Tampa Bay, Floro posted a 4.20 ERA with 14 strikeouts and four unintentional walks to complement a strong 54.7 percent ground-ball rate. Floro also averaged a respectable 92.5 mph on his fastball and enjoyed a successful season at the Triple-A level, logging 50 innings with a 2.88 ERA, 7.2 K/9, 1.6 BB/9 and a 56.5 percent ground-ball rate. He’s walked just 1.3 hitters per nine innings in his minor league career, so there’s definitely some appeal in his blend of strong control and ground-ball tendencies. Floro, though, fell all the way to Chicago on waivers just two weeks ago, so there’s a chance that the Cubs will be able to pass him through unclaimed this time around and retain him without dedicating a 40-man spot.
The 24-year-old Farris split the 2016 season between Chicago’s Class-A Advanced and Double-A affiliates, working to a combined 2.59 ERA with 10.1 K/9, 2.3 BB/9 and a 47.1 percent ground-ball rate in 66 innings of relief. Farris also fired nine scoreless innings with an 11-to-2 K/BB ratio in the 2016 Arizona Fall League. Farris has never rated among the Cubs’ top prospects in recent years and didn’t make the cut on yesterday’s Cubs rankings from ESPN’s Keith Law, either. The former ninth-round pick averaged 91.7 mph on his fastball this season and 83 mph on his changeup, per PITCHf/x data at MLBfarm.com.