Cubs pull off a rare April trade, acquire lefty Sean Newcomb
By Jake Misener
Well, the return of Jesse Chavez was altogether brief and forgettable. After bringing the veteran right-hander back into the fold this spring, the Cubs wasted no time moving on from Chavez, trading him to the Atlanta Braves in exchange for former first-rounder Sean Newcomb.
Chicago is hoping that a change of scenery will help revitalize Newcomb, who still has mid-90s velocity on his fastball, but has struggled in recent years to be effective as both a starter and a reliever. Given the fact it’s just Daniel Norris out in the pen from the left side and Chavez was ineffective early this year, there’s not much risk to adding Newcomb and hoping they can figure something out.
Newcomb, 28, is several years removed from being an impactful arm. He made 55 appearances in 2019 for Atlanta, working to a 3.16 ERA and 145 ERA+. So at some point, there was definitely something there – now, it’s about uncovering what exactly went wrong in the last two years.
Last season, he made 32 relief appearances for the World Series champion Braves, working to a 4.73 ERA. That being said, his 3.60 FIP suggests he may have been suffering from at least a little tough luck. Walking 7.5 batters per nine, though, isn’t doing yourself any favors.
Control will be everything for the left-hander, who came to Atlanta in the trade that once sent Andrelton Simmons to the Angels. This year has been rocky – he’s allowed seven hits, including a home run, and issued four walks in just five innings of work. Given he’s out of minor league options, the Braves simply weren’t content trotting him out there the remainder of the season.
Cubs take a logical risk in this trade, hoping Sean Newcomb can rebound
Meanwhile, the Cubs are definitely His Statcast page for the young season is the stuff of nightmares. in a position to give Newcomb a bit of a longer leash. He’s at or near the bottom of the league in chase rate, whiff percentage and almost every other conceivable metric.
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But given the fact Chavez wasn’t getting the job done and that Chicago is sorely lacking when it comes to left-handed relievers, there’s little to lose if you’re the Cubs. Throw in the fact he’s a velocity guy (something you always love to have in the pen) and has multiple years of team control left, and it’s not hard to see why Jed Hoyer and Carter Hawkins pulled the trigger on this trade.