Cubs: 3 players the team could have traded for Jacob deGrom in 2018
Cubs: There’s been underwhelming performances for these players since 2018
Through July 19, 2018, former Cubs infielder Addison Russell was slashing .272/.344./393/ and was a key piece to a successful offense. It was thought he’d be a middle infielder for the future of the franchise, but that quickly changed with his performances on and off the field. In the following months a report came out about Russell’s involvement in domestic violence and it was all bad news from there.
His numbers dipped to end 2018 (.250 BA, .657 OPS) and he was suspended through the first month of the following season. Even when he returned in 2019, Russell wasn’t the same and he finished with a career-low .237 batting average in 82 games. The Cubs cut ties with Russell during that offseason and since then he’s played in the Korean Baseball Organization in 2020, and will play in the Mexican League this season.
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The man who was on the mound for the final out in 2016, Mike Montgomery, was always solid with the Cubs since joining the team during that World Series year. In four seasons in Chicago, he was used mostly out of the bullpen and posted a 3.74 ERA, 1.331 WHIP, and 4.34 FIP. The reliever usage got tiresome for Montgomery who wanted to go back to his days as a starter. He would get his wish and was traded to the Royals in 2019 for catcher Martin Maldonado.
These days Montgomery is still in Kansas City, where he’s started in one of his three outings this season and currently has a 5.06 ERA and 1.313 WHIP through 5 1/3 innings pitched.
That brings us to Ian Happ who is still with the Cubs. Happ’s always been a highly touted player for his switch-hitting abilities and tools as an outfielder. That’s part of the reason he’s still with the team now and why he would have been the center piece in this deal for deGrom.
"“Happ is the guy scouts like,” one executive said in July 2018. “He’s a switch-hitter with athleticism. No one knows what he’ll be, but he can start now on a lot of teams.”"
Since then, Happ has posted a career .241 batting average and .802 OPS in five MLB seasons. He’s currently in one of the worst stretches of his career, slashing .135/.297/.176 with one home run and one RBI in 92 plate appearances.
Maybe there’s still potential with Happ, but I think many would trade whatever his future holds for what deGrom is doing right now.
Since 2018, deGrom has won two CY Young awards and only seems to be getting better with age. The 33-year-old has a 0.51 ERA, 0.571 WHIP, and is leading the majors with a 15.2 K/9 through 35 innings this season.
His Statcast metrics are also off the charts, as he’s even throwing harder than he has at any point in his career, averaging 98.9 MPH on his four-seem fastball (MLB leader).
- xBA (.150) Top 3%
- xSLG (.273) Top 9%
- xOBA (.187) Top 5%
- xwOBA (.199) Top 2%
There’s no better pitcher on the planet right now, no matter how you choose to assess him.
Could he have been a Cub?
Maybe, but it’s just another scenario where we’ll always wonder what could have been.