Trade 3: The Chicago Cubs trade OF/1B Cody Bellinger to the Houston Astros for RHP Forrest Whitley and OF Justin Dirden
It was fun thinking about ways the Cubs could be buyers and maybe try to hold on to Cody Bellinger going into next season but it appears that ship has sailed.
The Astros are not good at first base. They have a -0.4 WAR and Bellinger can be better than that even if he’s not hitting as he’s currently sitting at a 1.5 in 200 at-bats this season. This may not be as strong of a Houston Astros team as we are accustomed to seeing but if they think they can knock the Rangers out of first place or even if they just want to make a run at a wild card, Bellinger is the kind of impact bat that should be able to help with that.
The Cubs would be getting two very interesting pieces in return for this deal. The first is Forrest Whitley. When I think about great potential in pitchers I often find myself thinking of three players the Astros failed miserably: Mark Appel, Brady Aiken, and Forrest Whitley. It may be unfair to include Aiken in that list considering they chose not to sign him due to problems with his physical, but the fact of the matter is that the Astros simply haven’t been able to turn those arms with tremendous potential into actual impact starters.
The times have changed because I actually believe in the Cubs’ ability to develop pitching now and I’d love to get a chance to see if Whitley has anything left in the tank, even if he is currently sporting a 5.70 ERA this season after having a 6.53 ERA across three levels last season.
In order to ensure that we aren’t getting a bag of beans in this deal, the other piece would be Justin Dirden. He’s followed up last season’s exceptional slash line of .302/.384/.558 with a slash of .276/.345/.489 at AAA with nine homers and four stolen bases. His game reminds me a little bit of Ian Happ and he’s the kind of player that could easily find his way onto the opening day roster to start next season.