Chicago Cubs: Don’t underestimate the power of ‘small’ trades

(Photo by Brian Kersey/Getty Images)
(Photo by Brian Kersey/Getty Images) /
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Chicago Cubs
(Photo by Brian Kersey/Getty Images) /

Chicago Cubs: Hooking up with the Atlanta Braves yet again

2012 with the Atlanta Braves: Reed Johnson, Paul Maholm and cash for Arodys Vizcaíno and Jaye Chapman /// 2014 with the Atlanta Braves: Arodys Vizcaíno for Tommy La Stella

Reed Johnson was a good backup outfielder who spent parts of four seasons with the Cubs. Paul Maholm was a veteran starting pitcher who was eating up innings. The Cubs packaged the two of them together to the Atlanta Braves for Arodys Vizcaíno and Jaye Chapman.

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At the time of the 2012 trade, Vizcaíno was just a prospect with an exciting arm and a history of injuries to that arm. No one knew if Vizcaíno would stay health enough long enough to develop into a major league pitcher. So this was a relatively small trade at the time. Now Vizcaíno is the closer for the Atlanta Braves.

Then, before the 2015 season the Cubs were looking for someone to hold down a starting spot in the infield so Bryant, Russell and Baez could get more time in the minors. The front office also wanted this person to be a counter balance to Bryant, Baez and Mike Olt‘s propensity for striking out so much. So the Cubs traded Vizcaíno back to the Braves for Tommy La Stella.

This wasn’t as small a deal at the time. Both La Stella and Vizcaíno had already made their major league debuts and both were expected to contribute at the major league level immediately following the trade. But perhaps La Stella would have never become a Cub if Johnson and Maholm weren’t traded away for Vizcaíno.

Unfortunately for La Stella, he suffered an injury in April and missed most of the season. That led to earlier than expected call ups for both Bryant and Russell. However, La Stella did manage to make it back by the end of the 2015 season and even started at third in the Wild Card game against the Pirates. Since then, La Stella has been a big part of the Cubs bench and one of the best pinch hitters in the league.