With just over 24 hours until the conclusion of the FanSided Mock Winter Meetings, the Chicago Cubs front office agreed on a deal that would send utilityman Arismendy Alcantara to the Tampa Bay Rays in exchange for outfielder Matt Joyce and pitching prospect Alex Colome.
Alcantara broke on to the big league scene with the Cubs in 2014, bringing speed to the Chicago lineup on a daily basis. However, he struggled to get on base consistently enough to make an impact. In 300 plate appearances, spanning 70 games, the 23-year-old batted .205/.254/.367, swiping eight bases in 13 attempts. He also appeared at multiple positions, spending the bulk of his season patrolling center field – also taking reps at second base.
Prior to his promotion, Alcantara, who entered the 2014 season as the #100 prospect according to Baseball America, spent time with Triple-A Iowa, where he put together his best offensive season to-date, with a slash-line of .307/.353/.537 to go along with 10 home runs, 25 doubles and 21 stolen bases – earning him a shot at the big leagues.
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On the other end of the deal, Colome heads to Chicago – after ending the season as the Rays’ #5 overall prospect. The young right-hander offers a high-upside power arm to add into the mix for the Cubs, who still possess a deep system in terms of outfield depth, despite the loss of Alcantara, including Albert Almora, Billy McKinney, Jorge Soler and Kyle Schwarber – to name a few.
Last season, the 25-year-old Colome appeared in five games for the Rays, making three starts. In those five outings, he totaled 23 2/3 innings of work, allowing seven earned runs en route to a 2.66 ERA, 1.225 WHIP and 3.85 FIP. Once regarded as an up-and-coming prospect, the right-hander has failed to put a full season together at the big league level since his peak in 2010, when he was ranked as the 68th-best prospect in baseball, according to Baseball America.
In 2014, he spent the bulk of the season with Triple-A Durham, making 15 starts and going 7-6 with a 3.55 earned run average. His strikeout averages have fallen from 11.4 per nine to just 7.6 per nine last season, but he still offers a potential impact arm for Chicago. Adding to the mix is Joyce, who could fill a role similar to that of David DeJesus in the Windy City, serving as a mentor to the younger players, while adding a capable bat to the mix.
Last season, just three years removed from an American League All-Star selection, Joyce batted .254/.349/.383 in 140 games, adding nine home runs and 52 RBIs, as well as 23 doubles. His numbers were right on pace with his career figures, lending some stability to a young Cubs outfield that, following the trade, will include Soler, Chris Coghlan, Matt Szczur and Junior Lake in 2015.