Column: Chicago Cubs' sell-off begins with Joc Pederson


Chicago Tribune 16 July, 2021 - 10:16am 5 views

Who did the Braves trade for Joc Pederson?

The Cubs traded outfielder Joc Pederson to the Atlanta Braves on Thursday night in a deal for minor-league first baseman Bryce Ball. The move ends Pederson's half-season tenure with the organization after putting up a .230/.300/.418 line with 11 home runs, 11 doubles and 39 RBIs in 73 games. Chicago TribuneChicago Cubs trade Joc Pederson to Atlanta Braves

Who did the Cubs trade?

The Chicago Cubs have traded outfielder Joc Pederson to the Atlanta Braves in exchange for Bryce Ball, the teams announced on Thursday. In 73 games for Chicago this year, Pederson slashed .230/.300/.418 with 11 home runs and 39 RBIs. The AthleticCubs trade Joc Pederson to Braves for prospect Bryce Ball

When is the MLB trade deadline?

MLB trade deadline 2021: Kris Bryant, Max Scherzer, Trevor Story among 21 top trade candidates. Major League Baseball's trade deadline is approaching more quickly than usual. This year's deadline is set for 4 p.m. ET on Friday, July 30, or a day earlier than the traditional date. CBS sports.comMLB trade deadline 2021: Kris Bryant, Max Scherzer, Trevor Story among 21 top trade candidates

Freddie Freeman Trade Rumors: Braves Star Has Told Team 'He Wants to Stay Long-Term'

Bleacher Report 16 July, 2021 - 01:00pm

The Atlanta Braves may be struggling in the 2021 season, but they aren't interested in parting with superstar first baseman Freddie Freeman, according to a report from Jon Heyman of the MLB Network. 

And the feeling is reportedly mutual:

While there’s some chance, considering all the unfortunate things that have befallen the Braves, they may sell, Freddie Freeman isn’t going anywhere in trade. No surprise they want to keep the superstar, and he’s told them he wants to stay long-term. <a href="">@MLBNetwork</a>

The Braves are just 44-45 on the season, four games behind the New York Mets in the NL East and seven games behind the San Diego Padres for the second wild-card spot in the National League. 

Worse, star outfielder Ronald Acuna Jr. tore his ACL on Saturday, ending his season. 

"The only thing I can say is that I'm obviously going to put maximum effort to come back stronger than ever," he told reporters Sunday. "If was giving 500 percent before, I'm about to start giving 1,000 percent."

With Acuna out for the year along with Huascar Ynoa, Mike Soroka and likely Ian Anderson, you could hardly blame the Braves if they called the 2021 season a wash and became sellers before the July 30 trade deadline. Nothing has gone to plan this year—the bullpen has struggled, the lineup has underachieved and injuries have been an issue. 

Freeman has been steady though slightly disappointing after his fantastic MVP campaign last year, hitting .274 with 19 homers, 50 RBI, 58 runs and an .871 OPS. That's about in line with his career .891 OPS, though it's far below the epic 1.102 OPS he notched last year. 

But it would be hard to imagine the Braves without him. For now, it sounds as though neither the Braves or Freeman can (or want to) imagine it either.

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Trade Deadline Impact of COVID, Re-Signing Adam, Santiago Suspension Upheld, and Other Cubs Bullets 16 July, 2021 - 01:00pm

The Cubs kicked off the garage sale last night, sending Joc Pederson to the Braves. More trades are coming, and while the Trade Deadline will probably be necessary to generate the market for most of the moves, others could come because of a perfect fit/need like that one. If you’re scanning the landscape and thinking about urgency for contenders who don’t want to miss a moment, it would probably be the Padres quickly trying to get back Zach Davies for their injured rotation. Stay tuned, and don’t forget that the Blogathon will definitely be a good one this year – please consider supporting Make-A-Wish to make the Trade Deadline Blogathon as long as possible!

•   In advance, I hadn’t thought much about how the All-Star break, paired with rising COVID cases in the United States, could lead to a lot of positive tests as players come back. That appears to have happened with the Yankees (scuttling their showcase game last night with the Red Sox), and I wonder if we’re about to find out that more teams are dealing with it today, what with the other 28 teams returning to action. Hopefully it’s just a fluke.

•   I think a lot of us had the same stray reaction/question with the Joc Pederson trade happening on the same day as the Yankees outbreak: it’s gonna be a lot harder to trade unvaccinated players, isn’t it? I really hate that this is even a talking point, because it feels off – not the part about vaccination status, because the vaccines are good and safe and protect you and your teammates; the part about commoditizing humans in this way. I guess we consider it with other health factors (i.e., injury status), so maybe it’s not that off?

•   Anyway, given that we know front offices view vaccination as a competitive advantage, do we really think a lot of teams are going to risk introducing another unvaccinated player to the mix? Unless it was a monster impact player for a super cheap price or something? Among the known unvaccinated Cubs, this would seem to impact only Anthony Rizzo, but I’m not sure he was realistically going to be traded anyway. Guys like Kris Bryant, Craig Kimbrel, Javy Báez, Kyle Hendricks, and Willson Contreras have confirmed publicly that they are vaccinated, but a whole lot of other guys are simply unknown. This is going to become a factor this trade season, I suspect, and not just on the Cubs.

•   Also: the clubhouses where more players are vaccinated will be at a lower risk of a poorly-timed outbreak in the weeks ahead. Just another one of those competitive disadvantages of being one of the few teams that hasn’t reached 85%. (Yes, the Yankees’ situation happened despite them being over 85%, but we’re not talking about absolutes here. We’re just talking about what is more or less likely.)

•   Meanwhile, in the KBO, they are NOT MESSING AROUND with protocol violations – these guys got suspended for the rest of the season:

These 4 #NCDinos players have been suspended for 72 regular season games for violating league’s COVID protocol. In addition, the Dinos have been fined 1억원 (approx 100k USD).

— Daniel Kim 대니얼 김 (@DanielKimW) July 16, 2021

•   I like this, not only because you never know if Jason Adam might get it back, but also because I like the idea of him getting to rehab that serious ankle injury with the Cubs:

#Cubs have re-signed RHP Jason Adam to a minor league contract.

— MiLB-Transactions (@tombaseball29) July 15, 2021

•   Hector Santiago, who was ejected and suspended for sticky substances – which he claimed was just rosin – has had his suspension upheld:

Seattle Mariners pitcher Hector Santiago’s 10-game suspension for foreign-substance use has been upheld after an appeal, sources tell @kileymcd and me. He will be the first — and, so far, only — player to miss time.

— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) July 15, 2021

•   Four examples here, but really, this plate should be taken in every single state:

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.

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Joc Pederson deal can’t fix Braves, but at least they’re still trying

Atlanta Journal Constitution 16 July, 2021 - 11:38am

First, you start from the practical high ground that there is no replacing Ronald Acuna. A real stretch there, huh? For the Braves, Acuna is like the one true Bond (Sean Connery), the indispensable sound (the blues) or the essential whiskey (scotch). Everything else is make-do.

And then you step back and give the Braves and their plucky GM Alex Anthopoulos – first time I’ve deployed that adjective on management – their due. In the face of setbacks that would have made Patton surrender, they have chosen for the moment to press on.

Trading for Joc Pederson to play right field may not be the blockbuster kind of deal that shocks the 44-45 Braves to their senses. The transaction is on its face spackling, a quick and convenient repair. The guy is hitting .230 now, he has hit .230 for the previous six seasons and probably will hit .230 to the end. There is little room left on his baseball card for a big surprise.

But he is a signal flare, if a coolly burning one, that those in charge of the Braves are willing to give it at least a couple of more weeks before conceding anything. As the Braves return from the All-Star break, any new face they encounter in the clubhouse is encouraging, a breath of freshness for a season grown stale on the lee side of .500.

Now, as baseball picks over the bones of the Cubs, if Pederson could smuggle out old friend and closer Craig Kimbrel in his carpetbag, that would be of great benefit.

Honestly, after Acuna’s knee injury, I would have been tempted to fold my hand. To recognize that some seasons are just destined to be blighted from the beginning. Your best pitcher reinjured himself walking into the clubhouse. His most effective stand-in took himself out by hitting a bench. Your catcher’s thumb was the only thing out after a play at the plate. And your best player blew out a knee with no one else within 100 feet of him. Those are more than signs; those are multiple pianos falling on your head.

And Ian Anderson isn’t feeling so great, either.

To his credit, Anthopoulos is made of sterner stuff. He stepped out early here in trading season and did something – anything – to signal that the Braves remain interested in winning baseball’s softest division. Enough to ultimately matter? Doubtful. But at least a reminder to everyone else in uniform that they are still being paid, and it remains in their best interests to try really hard after coming back from break.

The best the Braves can hope to get back from this one deal is that they finally catch a break in 2021 and catch Pederson on the cusp of a hot streak. Maybe over the short haul he can supply something to this lineup and this dugout beyond plastic swords and a panda head. Pederson did hit 36 homers for the Dodgers in 2019, so, yes, some of that, please.

As much as any stubbornly sub-.500 team can, this one will fascinate over the next few weeks. Playing a stout schedule of opponents with a better resume than theirs (Tampa Bay, San Diego, the Mets), the Braves finally will declare what they are. As currently constructed, they are not world-beaters and will be hard-pressed to be Mets-beaters.

What an odd position this team is in. Not so bad as to hold a going-out-of-business sale before the trade deadline. Not good enough, given all the gut punches and depletions, to mortgage the future on a few truly substantial moves designed for a short-term surge.

Neither buyers nor sellers, they are more floaters right now. Maybe they can wring a little more from the players on hand. Maybe they can patch a few holes with another Pederson-level deal or two. Maybe some reinforcements are coming off the injured list if pitcher Huascar Ynoa and catcher Travis d’Arnaud can make August returns. A whole bunch of maybes. That is their current lot.

It is hard to imagine the Braves ever getting to the point this season where they’d just surrender and sell off any assets beyond the short-term kind, such as starters Charlie Morton or Drew Smyly. They didn’t spend so many seasons building to tear down now.

For time being, as the Pederson deal hints, they are at least value shoppers, willing to keep hope alive at the right price, unwilling yet to yield to their misfortune.

Steve Hummer writes sports features and columns for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He covers a wide range of sports and topics.

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