When I got the Bleacher Report tweet singling out the Chicago Cubs as the the top landing spot for Houston Astros left-hander Framber Valdez texted to me, I'll admit - they had my attention. Then I read through the article and quickly realized there's no chance it'll happen, at least not with the package outlined in the piece.
The proposal has Valdez and his two years of control coming to the Windy City in exchange for two of the Cubs' top pitching prospects in Cade Horton and Jordan Wicks. Horton skyrocketed up rankings boards last year in his first full professional season while Wicks made his MLB debut last summer, pitching well in some very meaningful games.
Both project as long-term rotation pieces in Chicago - with Horton now ranking among the top starting pitching prospects in the league - and it's hard to envision Jed Hoyer giving up both of these guys in a trade for Valdez. After all, the Cubs are, in all likelihood, probably not going to be ready to challenge for a pennant until at least 2025, which would be the final year before the lefty hits free agency.
Astros' Framber Valdez fits the Cubs' needs - but not in a deal like this
Replacing Marcus Stroman with Valdez, one of the game's elite groundball pitchers, is certainly an enticing thought. An innings-eater that ranks in the top 10% of the leage in groundball rate, he'd love hitting the mound every five days with that Nico Hoerner-Dansby Swanson combination behind him up the middle.
Last season with the Astros, Valdez turned in 198 innings of 3.45 ERA ball. Not a huge strikeout guy, the southpaw limits free passes and has quietly become one of the better starting pitchers in the league. A two-time All-Star and 2022 World Series champion, Valdez would no doubt be a big addition to the Cubs' rotation.
It seems far likelier that Chicago would pair a pitching prospect with an outfield prospect, given their relative depth at the position, rather than send two of its young up-and-coming arms away in one deal. Could the Cubs trade for him? Sure. But are they going to come off Horton and Wicks to make it happen? No chance.