En route to a National League pennant, the Philadelphia Phillies hooked up with the Chicago Cubs on a trade ahead of last summer's trade deadline, acquiring veteran right-hander David Robertson in exchange for pitching prospect Ben Brown.
Brown had long been on Jed Hoyer's list of targets and landing the former 33rd-round pick looked like a solid get from the start. But after seeing the Mets, who traded Robertson to the rival Marlins on Thursday, settle for a pair of Rookie-level prospects who will have to outperform their expected ceilings to make an impact long-term in Queens, last year's trade looks like another stroke of genius from the Cubs front office.
Now, before we dig into this, let's be clear. The Chicago tandem of Hoyer and GM Carter Hawkins is certainly not without fault; just look at moves like the Trey Mancini signing if you need some proof. While the big league results haven't been there yet under Hoyer, things seem to be trending in the right direction. The one area he's excelled? At the trade deadline - bolstering a farm system Fangraphs now ranks third in all of baseball.
Cubs getting Ben Brown in their David Robertson trade looks like more impactful return than what the Mets got this time around
Brown looks like a potential rotation piece - as soon as next spring - if he can iron out the control issues that have plagued him since earning a promotion to Triple-A Iowa this year. His walk rate more than doubled over what it was with Double-A Tennessee and sorting that out is critical. Still, depending how the next two months play out, it's not totally out of the question that we could see him make his big league debut for a spot start or out of the pen at some point as the team's #3 overall prospect and #70 in all of MiLB.
Meanwhile, the Mets settled for the likes of Marco Vargas and Ronald Hernandez, the Marlins' 18th and 21st-ranked prospects. They might pan out someday, but for now, you're looking at guys who won't make any sort of impact on the big league roster for a minimum of 3 years, probably closer to 4-5. I get that Robertson is a rental and is in his late 30s, but it seems like New York might have sold themselves short on this return.
Maybe in four year's time, I look the fool and Vargas and Hernandez burst onto the scene in dramatic fashion. But it feels like Hoyer and Hawkins got a far more impactful piece back in their trade of Robertson last year than the Mets managed this time around.