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Padres acquire Carl Edwards Jr.

Brad Wieck to Cubs in swap of struggling relievers

Colorado Rockies v Chicago Cubs Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images

In a deal that was consummated just minutes before Wednesday’s trade deadline, the Padres acquired reliever Carl Edwards Jr. from the Chicago Cubs yesterday in exchange for lefty Brad Wieck. The transaction got largely lost in the aftermath of the Franmil Reyes/Taylor Trammell hubbub, so this seems like a decent time to review the players involved.

Wieck—on the heels of a 2018 debut in which he logged a 1.29 ERA during a 7.0 inning cup of coffee—consistently faltered in middle relief appearances this season. Though the 27-year-old strikes out hitters with abandon, he has given up longballs at a whiplash-inducing clip in both AAA and San Diego this year: 21.9% of major league flyballs hit against him went over the wall this year, compared with 35.7% in AAA El Paso. He features a fastball that averages around 93.8 MPH, and a heavily deployed slider that, according to both Statcast measurements and Fangraphs evaluation, doesn’t project as a big league quality pitch. It’s possible the Cubs get Wieck to utilize his curve more, which could yet make him an effective left-handed reliever.

In return for the rookie, the Padres are getting a reliever who, if nothing else, brings much more fame to the mound. As a member of a fawned-over 2016 champion Cubs team, then-rookie Edwards Jr. used his lanky right-handed frame to strike out nearly everyone in sight (13.00 k/9 in 2016). Strikeouts, in the ensuing seasons, have remained a central part of his game—nicknamed the “String Bean Slinger”, Edwards Jr. owns a 12.08 K/9 rate in 174.1 career innings.

Of course, that only tells part of the story: the 27-year-old Edwards Jr. is also known for walking more than his fair share, with a 4.96 BB/9 allowed for his career. Despite the impressive ability to set hitters down, it remains to be seen if a guy who allows so many free passes will ultimately develop into a reliable late-inning option. As a Super Two player, Edwards Jr. comes with 3 more seasons of arbitration control, so the Padres have a sizable portion of time to figure out if they can harness his potential. Edwards Jr. is making $1.5MM in 2019, and was playing for the Cubs AAA affiliate at the time of the trade.

Chicago will also send $500K in international bonus pool money to the Padres in the deal, but this deal really boils down to an exchange of two beleaguered 27-year-olds with the ability to strike out major league hitters. Neither has pitched effectively in 2019, but each comes with distinct value: Edwards Jr. has a proven track record in the bigs, with a 3.30 career ERA; Wieck comes with five years of cheap contract control, and is left-handed. The balance of this trade will likely be determined via the ability of the organizational pitching coaches—either Darren Balsley of the Padres or Thomas Hottovy of the Cubs—to mould these guys into consistent options.