Latest Washington Nationals roster move is a reminder for Chicago Cubs fans

The Chicago Cubs have given up on prospects like Nelson Velazquez and Jeremiah Estrada, but DJ Herz could leave them with an even more sour taste in their mouths.
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As the Chicago Cubs try to dig themselves out of the hole that their bullpen and offense dug during the month of May they have another frustration to keep an eye on as well: What could have been?

Nelson Velazquez has certainly slowed his torrid pace from the beginning of the season, but through mid-April he was hitting .314/.364/.490 and he was traded for Jose Cuas last season who is carrying a 7.43 ERA through 13.1 innings this season. 

Jeremiah Estrada had a stint where he broke the record for most consecutive batters retired via strikeout (13) and is currently carrying a 0.48 ERA through 18.2 innings pitched for the San Diego Padres and the Cubs let him go for absolutely nothing. 

Jed Hoyer's recent trades have had little return for the Cubs at the Major League level.

The most recent player to add to the pile of what could have been is DJ Herz who made his debut with the Washington Nationals on Tuesday.

Herz has had a season that has mirrored his career to this point. In 2024 he carried a 3.75 ERA and 42 strikeouts over 36 innings. His career ERA is slightly better than that at 3.65 and his strikeout numbers are pretty impressive at 455 strikeouts in 317.2 innings pitched, so there’s plenty to like about him.

The 23-year-old Herz was traded along with lottery ticket infielder Kevin Made to the Nationals at the 2023 trade deadline as the Cubs decided to continue to play the margins and dance the line between buyers and sellers. 

In return the Cubs received Jeimer Candelario (who left in free agency to sign with the Cincinnati Reds) and he managed just a .234 batting average down the stretch for a Cubs team that would go on to miss the playoffs after an abysmal September saw them squander a chance at the final Wild Card spot. 

Jed Hoyer has always tried to lead this organization with the future and flexibility in mind, but he missed the mark with Velazquez and Estrada. The jury is out to see if the same is true for Herz as well.