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Stop making a big deal of Chicago Cubs trading D.J. LeMahieu

tstebbins
Sep 4, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Colorado Rockies second baseman DJ LeMahieu (9) makes a throw to second for an out in the sixth inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Coors Field. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 4, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Colorado Rockies second baseman DJ LeMahieu (9) makes a throw to second for an out in the sixth inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Coors Field. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports /
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The New York Times recently revisited the Chicago Cubs’ trade of infielder D.J. LeMahieu. While LeMahieu is a good player, one should not blow the trade out of proportion.

Saturday, The New York Times revisited a trade that the Chicago Cubs made in December 2011. In Theo Epstein’s second month on the job, he dealt second baseman D.J. LeMahieu to the Colorado Rockies for third baseman Ian Stewart.

At the time, trading an unproven commodity like LeMahieu raised few eyebrows. The then 23-year-old hit just .250 in 37 games with the Cubs in 2011. While his career was just beginning, it wasn’t like the Cubs were trading an All-Star or budding top prospect.

In exchange for LeMahieu, the Cubs acquired a possible replacement for former starting third baseman Aramis Ramirez. The Cubs weren’t expected to retain Ramirez in 2012, while Stewart hit 25 home runs in 2009. In a sense, the trade was a possible low-risk, high-reward move.

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Failed trade?

Stewart struggled tremendously with the Cubs, hitting .201 in 55 games with the North Siders. Instead of replacing Ramirez, Stewart wound up undergoing wrist surgery and missing a chunk of the 2012 season. The Cubs eventually released him in June 2013.

On the other hand, LeMahieu has experienced tremendous success with the Rockies and is still with the franchise today. In four of his five seasons with the Rockies, LeMahieu has hit at least .280. In fact, he hit .348 in 2016, winning the National League batting title. In 2014, he won a Gold Glove; in 2015, he was an All-Star.

In hindsight, it’s easy to look back on this trade and label it a failure for the Cubs after seeing what LeMahieu has turned into. At the same time, doing so is unproductive and will get someone nowhere.

If the Cubs kept LeMahieu, there’s no guarantee that he would’ve turned into the player that he is today. For all anyone knows, he could’ve turned into a another forgotten player that was with the Cubs during their rebuild.

Lay it to rest, people

LeMahieu obviously turned into quite the opposite after getting dealt. Even if he turned into a star with the Cubs, isn’t it likely that they would’ve flipped him for prospects like they did with so many other players?

Of course, any of these situations are hypothetical and therefore just assumptions. The only definitive fact of this matter is that LeMahieu has been fantastic since the Cubs traded him away. However, the Cubs have also enjoyed some success since the trade themselves, too.

On their current roster, the Cubs have two players worthy of starting at second in Javier Báez and Ben Zobrist. Báez and Zobrist will again play multiple positions in 2017 just to ensure they receive their fair share of playing time. If LeMahieu were on the team, it would be hard to find a place for him.

All in all, it seems wrong to fault the Cubs too much for trading LeMahieu. Of all the situations mentioned above, each requires an assumption of some sort. The bottomline is yes, LeMahieu has turned into a quality player. However, the Cubs have turned into a great team without him with equally as talented (or better) players.

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I understand that revisiting trades, acquisitions etc. of the past make for interesting journalism; this particular trade has worked out for all sides, though. For this reason, it might be better to not blow the deal out of proportion and lay it to rest for good.

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