In a July 30 trade deadline move that only poured salt in the wound as the core was diminishing before everybody’s eyes, Chicago Cubs closer Craig Kimbrel was sent to the Chicago White Sox in return for Codi Heuer and Nick Madrigal.
When Kimbrel was on the North Side this season, he was having an absolutely lights-out season, posting a ridiculous 0.49 ERA in 36 2/3 innings of work. During that span, he allowed only two earned runs all year. Fast forward to his time with the White Sox, Kimbrel has already allowed four earned runs in only 6 2/3 frames, raising his overall ERA to 1.25 on the season. Though still elite, that is quite the spike in such a short time.
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To be fair, Kimbrel is an elite closer, more than likely destined for the Hall of Fame. However, numbers are numbers and currently the Cubs have the upper hand on the trade. In seven appearances and eight innings pitched so far, Codi Heuer has only allowed two earned runs, posting a 2.25 ERA in a Cubs uniform.
Heuer, as it has been documented, really only had one poor half of a season in his career and it was this year in 2021 in his time with the White Sox. During that time he posted a 5.12 in 38 2/3 innings. That is actually the worst stretch of his entire career at any level. in 2020 he posted a 1.52 ERA in 23 2/3 innings with the Sox as well as a 2.39 ERA between two levels at the minor league level in 2019. Even the Chicago White Sox have given praise to Heuer.
With Heuer’s success now carrying over to the North Side, though in a small sample size, it has been a successful salary dump in the terms of production from Heuer vs. Kimbrel in the past two weeks. No, Heuer alone pitching well hasn’t translated into wins. This is is simply a comparison of what the two pitchers have done in the past two weeks since the trade deadline. Not only has Heuer played great in a Cubs uniform, the Cubs still have the meat and potatoes of the trade standing by for next season in the form of so far career .300 hitter, Nick Madrigal.
Chicago Cubs: Nick Madrigal could be a key for years to come
Madrigal, who posted a .305 batting average this season before going down with a hamstring tear, continued his not-so-surprising success from 2020, when he slashed .340/.376/.369. Not so surprising, because Madrigal has always been this type of hitter for average. Over the course of three seasons in college, Madrigal batted .367, while continuing to stay hot in the minors, posting a .309 mark across two campaigns. He currently resides with an MLB batting average of .317 between 2020 and 2021 thus far.
Adding a bat of this caliber may have been worth it for Kimbrel alone, given the fact that he would have been gone after next season anyway. Throwing in Heuer, who has done exceptional work thus far for the Cubs, is the cherry on top. We know Madrigal will continue to hit for average. The more Heuer continues to pitch well, the more he will slide towards the backend of the bullpen. Over the course of time, it will be the Cubs who come out on top of this one. A “right back at ya” of sorts for the Jose Quintana fiasco back in 2017.
Of course, should the White Sox win the World Series, they probably won’t much care, as the Cubs didn’t after winning it all in 2016. Looking back some years later, depleting the farm system wasn’t what hurt the Cubs the most in present day; it’s the lack of spending done by the front office. They paid the price for Yu Darvish and he became Cy Young runner-up in 2020. They spent resources for Craig Kimbrel and he was, hands-down, the best reliever in baseball this year. You get what you pay for.
Sometimes, you can pull off a trade like this and it helps you in the future, as it will by acquiring both Heuer and Madrigal. Unfortunately, it never should have come to this in the first place. Meanwhile, first place, coincidentally enough, is what the Cubs have plummeted away from in the last two weeks. It will now take big spending in the offseason to right this ship completely as soon as next year.
This offseason is absolutely critical for the Cubs. The less they spend now, the less players will want to come to the north side by the time there is any incentive to win. Trades like the one for Kimbrel will help and kudos to Jed Hoyer for pulling it off, but the front office is hurting its fanbase at this point. The Wrigleyville faithful do not deserve to stand idly by while Hoyer makes small move after small move over the next five years until the Cubs are competitive again, especially when there are financial resources available now.