My last post looked back at the Cubs' drafts international signings since 1995. In short, the Cubs have been downright awful at developing starting pitching through their minor league system, especially if one considers Kerry Wood (joined the organization in 1995), Carlos Zambrano ('97), and Mark Prior ('01) to be the last three big impact arms to come up through the system.
My favorite Bleacher Tweeter had me pondering after a comment:
To qualify for the discussion, a pitcher must have had 20+ starts during one season. The last post revealed just seven players who had done this with the Cubs from the 1995 draft to present. What about the ones who got away?
Kyle Lohse - 29th round draft pick in 1996
Verdict: Lohse was a 29th round draft in Single-A when this trade happened. Anytime you can get an established bullpen arm for a lottery ticket I think you have to take it. I would say the Twins won this trade, because the Cubs didn't go anywhere with Aguilera and he retired after the 2000 season.
Jon Garland - 1st round draft pick in 1997
Verdict: Big L for the Cubs here. Maybe one of the top five most regrettable trades in Chicago Cubs history?
Todd Wellemeyer - 4th round draft pick in 2000
Verdict: Wellemeyer had a 6.19 ERA in three seasons as a reliever before being traded. The Cubs gambled on their return, a former 7th rounder and 11th rounder, but neither panned out. The Cardinals found gold with Wellemeyer in 2008, but I don't think anyone would have predicted that. This one is a draw for me.
Dontrelle Willis - 8th round draft pick in 2000
Verdict: Willis was electric and all of baseball was watching his smile and crazy windup when he burst on the season as a 21-year-old in 2003. Clement and Alfonseca helped the Cubs to the playoffs in 2003, and Clement gave the Cubs the three best seasons of his career. I'll give a slight edge to the Marlins on this one, but only because Willis was making league minimum and Clement was in his arbitration eligible years.
Ricky Nolasco - 4th round draft pick in 2001
Verdict: Juan Pierre spent one season of his prime atop the Cubs batting order before signing a free agent deal with the Dodgers the next winter. The Cubs finished 6th in the old NL Central and didn't need to lose an arm like Nolasco for one year of Pierre. The Marlins won this deal.
Andrew Cashner - 1st round draft pick in 2008
Verdict: There was lots of debate around this trade when it was completed. I'm a pitching guy and I wasn't sold on the move by Theo Epstein at the time. Fast forward eight seasons and a World Series Championship later and I think it's easy to say the Cubs made the right call on this deal!
Chris Rusin - 4th round draft pick in 2009
Verdict: Losing a young lefty arm to waivers? Hmmm. Rusin has pitched in part of eight seasons and has a career 4.62 ERA. Meh. I can live with this.
Zack Godley - 10th round draft pick in 2013
Verdict: Godley had a real nice 2017 and Montero gave the Cubs an insurance run (which they needed) in the 10th inning of Game 7 of the World Series. The edge goes to the Cubs on this one.
Dylan Cease - 6th round draft pick in 2014
Verdict: I did not like this trade for the Cubs in 2017 and I don't like it even more now. Eloy is going to be a stud and I still think Cease is the best arm Theo Epstein's front office has drafted during his tenure. Quintana has been a solid starter, but quite unspectacular during his stay on the north side.
In summary, the Cubs have traded away more pitching prospects (8) in the last 25 years who have become serviceable starters than they have brought to the majors (7). Dylan Cease could easily be the 9th pitcher to make the discussion a little bit more lopsided. In all, I think the Cubs did pretty average in the trades above. They lost a few (Lohse, Garland & Nolasco), but they also won a couple (Rizzo & Montero), and then there were a couple that didn't amount to much.
When it's all said and done . . . #tinstaapp. There is no such thing as a pitching prospect.
Thanks for reading!