In yet another under-the-wire deadline deal, the Cubs traded right-handed reliever Carl Edwards Jr. to the Padres, ESPN’s Jesse Rogers tweets. The once-trusted setup man had clearly seen his standing with the organization slip, as evidenced by a recent demotion to Triple-A Iowa.
The Cubs are getting lefty Brad Wieck back from the Padres in return for Edwards, per Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune (Twitter link). Chicago will also send $500K in international bonus pool money to the Padres in the deal, per Jeff Sanders of the San Diego Union-Tribune. All indications are that the San Diego organization will take over the remainder of Edwards’s $1.5MM salary.
Edwards Jr. will join a strong bullpen unit in San Diego, offering value as a buy-low candidate with a high ceiling if Padres management can resolve the issues that have driven his fall from grace this season. While the Pads find themselves outside the playoff picture in 2019, the addition of Edwards could pay dividends in years to come; the 27-year-old will remain under team control through the 2022 season, which would seem to jibe with the Padres’ desired timeline for contention. If Edwards can return to form in San Diego, the Padres will add yet another bullpen weapon to its already-deep arsenal.
Wieck, meanwhile, is slightly younger than Edwards and has two more years of team control, which makes him an attractive long-term relief option. However, he lacks the Major-League track record and electrifying potential that made Edwards a mainstay in recent Cubs bullpens. While Chicago still finds itself in position to contend, Jed Hoyer and company viewed Edwards as a change-of-scenery candidate and may not have seen an opportunity for him to contribute to this year’s team. Replacing him with Wieck, while likely not improving their chances in 2019, may provide insurance against possible departures of veteran cogs: Pedro Strop, Brandon Kintzler, and Steve Cishek will all be free agents at season’s end, and there are few internal options outside of that group.
Wieck’s 2019 numbers are not pretty—his 6.57 ERA, fueled by allowing 2.6 HR/9, won’t inspire any optimism in Cubs faithful—but there are signs of promise. Despite the struggles, he’s struck out 11.3 batters per nine innings, good for a 3.44 K:BB ratio. In 2018, between Double- and Triple-A, he struck out 70 batters in 46 1/3 innings while walking just 17. He’s certainly not a finished product, and it’s questionable whether he provides more value to a contender than a diminished version of Edwards; however, with the extra years of team control and good strikeout stuff, the Cubs believe Wieck will grow into a more valuable long-term asset than the Edwards, who may well be a lost cause.
Over a three-year stretch from 2016-2018, Edwards established himself as a key member of the Cubs’ bullpen. Tossing 154 1/3 innings of relief over that span, Edwards posted a 3.03 ERA while striking out 12.4 batters per nine innings. However, his fortunes took a turn for the worse this season, as his ERA has ballooned to an unsightly 5.87. His strikeout numbers, while still impressive, dipped slightly; while his command issues haven’t waned, his 5.51 FIP seems to have been inflated by an increased proneness to the long ball, as he’s already allowed 3 in just 15 1/3 innings of work.