Since the Cubs were able to find some kind of return for the out-of-options Szczur, there must’ve been interest from other organizations. The 27-year-old had not been playing much this year in Chicago, recording just four hits in 23 trips to the plate, and has long been seen as a possible trade target for other organizations.
Last season, though, Szczur played a bigger role on the Cubs’ World Series-winning roster. He appeared in 107 games, in fact, though he took only 200 plate appearances. Szczur slashed a solid .259/.312/.400 with five home runs on the year while providing quality glovework. Szczur has typically performed much better against left-handed than right-handed pitching, so he’ll presumably function in some kind of platoon with San Diego.
In order to acquire Szczur, the Friars gave up Hancock, a 26-year-old hurler who has shown promise at times. But he has been hit hard in the early going at Double-A this year — where he has converted to a pen role after previously working almost exclusively as a starter. Hancock ranked as San Diego’s No. 25 prospect (per Baseball America) prior to the 2016 season, drawing praise for a 92-95 mph fastball and a changeup that flashes plus on occasion. BA notes that his slight frame and lack of a true out pitch make a future as a starter unlikely, however, and the Padres seemingly agreed by shifting him to relief work in 2017. Injuries may also have played a part in changing Hancock’s role, as he spent the majority of the 2016 season on the disabled list with Triple-A El Paso after an arthroscopic procedure on his right shoulder.