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Chicago Cubs: 2021 MLB Trade Deadline Grades

Cubs, Kris Bryant, Javier Baez, Anthony Rizzo

What a week for Chicago Cubs fans. After starting the season off really well, a long losing streak toward the end of June began the Cubs fire sale. While it may seem that all is lost to a Cubs fan, the return that Chicago received for their star players was not a bad one. So let’s break down all of the trades that the Cubs made and give each trade a grade and an overall grade at the end.

Chicago Cubs Trade Departures:

Andrew Chafin

Trade: Chicago Cubs receive OF Greg Deichmann and RHP Daniel Palencia, Oakland Athletics receive Andrew Chafin

Grade: A

This is a good trade for the Cubs, as they offload an expiring contract for two promising prospects from the A’s pipeline. Deichmann is an MLB-ready prospect that has had a good year in the minor leagues. Palencia has shown a lot of potential with a good fastball and was ranked as high as 12th in Oakland’s system. All of that for a reliever that wont be on your team next year is a great deal. The Cubs did well on this one.

Anthony Rizzo

Trade: Chicago Cubs receive OF Kevin Alcantara and RHP Alexander Vizcaino, Yankees receive Anthony Rizzo

Grade: B-

The Cubs definitely did not do the greatest here as they got one alright prospect and one that’s struggling. Kevin Alcantara is a 19-year-old outfielder that projects to be a powerful bat and a solid defender whether that be in center or at one of the corner outfield spots. Vizcaino is 24 years old, has had a bad injury history, and has struggled in the minor leagues this season. He has a solid fastball changeup combo but if he can’t get it worked out in the minors, then he may never see time in the majors. If Rizzo wasn’t on an expiring contract this would have been an F, but seeing as this is a true rental for the Yankees, this was probably one of the better packages the Cubs could have gotten.

Ryan Tepera

Trade: Chicago Cubs receive LHP Bailey Horn, Chicago White Sox receive RHP Ryan Tepera

Grade: C

This feels like a trade that the Cubs could have gotten a better prospect from as Tepera has been having a solid season up until this point. Tepera has a 2.91 ERA over 43.1 innings pitched this season for the Cubs and has been one of their most reliable arms the entire season. Bailey Horn was the White Sox third-round pick in last year’s draft and was ranked as the 30th overall prospect in the White Sox farm system. Horn has struggled in his first season in the minors, but at 23, he has time to develop. Overall it was a pretty average trade for the Cubs.

Craig Kimbrel

Trade: Chicago Cubs receive 2B Nick Madrigal and RHP Codi Heuer, Chicago White Sox Receive RHP Craig Kimbrel

Grade: A++

This is a great trade for the Cubs as they get one of the better prospects in the White Sox farm system in Nick Madrigal along with a solid arm in Codi Heuer.  Kimbrel has been the best closer in the league in 2021 and the White Sox now easily own the best bullpen in the MLB as they continue to chase a World Series. For the Cubs, they now have their middle infield of the future set with Nico Hoerner and Nick Madrigal playing shortstop and second base for years to come. This is a win-win trade for everyone involved.

Javier Baez and Trevor Williams

Trade: Chicago Cubs receive OF Pete Crow-Armstrong, New York Mets receive SS/2B Javier Baez and RHP Trevor Williams

Grade: B

With Javier Baez on an expiring contract and the Cubs not looking to keep him long-term, they needed to get a solid prospect in return, and they got just that. Pete Crow Armstrong was the Mets’ first-round draft choice in 2020, and while he has been hurt this season, Crow-Armstrong projects to be a fantastic fielder in center field with the potential to be a great leadoff hitter. The Mets get Javy Baez to slot into their middle infield next to Francisco Lindor which adds both to their defense and their power, although there are some concerns with Baez’s contact numbers and his strikeout percentage. If the Cubs could have squeaked out one more prospect from the Mets this would have gotten an A, but it will sit at a solid B for now.

Jake Marisnick

Trade: Chicago Cubs receive RHP Anderson Espinoza, San Diego Padres receive OF Jake Marisnick

Grade: A

This is a very low-key trade but if Anderson Espinoza can play up to his potential this could be a great move for the Cubs. Espinoza was once considered a top 20 prospect in the MLB, but after two Tommy John surgeries, there are questions if Espinoza will ever be able to reach those expectations. This is a great flyer for the Cubs to take out, as it doesn’t cost them much and could pay off in a great way. Overall just a solid trade.

Kris Bryant

Trade: Chicago Cubs receive OF Alexander Canario and RHP Caleb Killian, San Francisco Giants receive Kris Bryant

Grade: C+

This feels like too little for Kris Bryant. Alexander Canario is a young prospect at only 21 years and has shown some promise in the minor leagues with a .758 OPS but the Cubs should have looked for a better deal. The Giants get their guy, and they got to keep Marco Luciano and Joey Bart, so this is a huge win for them. Although Bryant is on an expiring deal the real question that comes to mind is: Is this really all it took to get Kris Bryant? I’m surprised that the Cubs weren’t able to get a better package for Bryant but there is some promise in Canario that could make this deal look a lot better in the future.

Overall Grade: B+

The Cubs were in a tough position with Bryant, Rizzo, and Baez and had to take less than they were worth because they were on expiring deals. They did the best they could with those three and then they did very well with everyone else. The Cubs farm system has now been bolstered and while Chicago has a long rebuild to look forward to, this trade deadline will help to speed that process up.