Chicago Cubs: Re-grading the fateful 2021 trade deadline

(Photo by Adam Hunger/Getty Images)
(Photo by Adam Hunger/Getty Images) /
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Craig Kimbrel / Chicago Cubs
(Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images) /

Craig Kimbrel trade hasn’t worked out – especially for the White Sox

At the time, this trade made sense for everyone. The White Sox were getting an elite bullpen arm to pair with Liam Hendriks, and the Cubs were getting five years of control of a once top-15 prospect with unbelievable contact skills and a controllable reliever. Fast forward a year later, and it hasn’t worked for anyone involved.

Kimbrel struggled immensely with the change in role and had an ERA north of 5.00 with the White Sox and was traded to the Dodgers this past offseason for AJ Pollock. Meanwhile, Madrigal’s bat-to-ball skills evaporated, netting an OPS below .500 before he was placed on the IL. Heuer had some encouraging early results while working on the fly on his pitches, but he suffered a UCL tear  that will keep him out until midway through 2023, at a minimum.

Simply put, this trade has been a mess, especially considering Madrigal was thought to be a fixture going forward. He is who he is, a contact hitter that’ll be lucky to hit five home runs in a season, but can be useful if he’s able to bat .300 and get on base at a .350 clip like he did with the White Sox. The Cubs control Madrigal for another five years so there’s still time for things to change, but the version the Cubs have seen so far has been nearly unplayable.

It’s impossible to truly say the Cubs lost this trade given they got so much club control for just half a season of what was a bad reliever, but the Cubs haven’t made out like bandits yet either.

  • Original Grade: B-
  • New Grade: C