Monday, January 17, 2011

Cubs Trade Gorzelanny to Nationals

UPDATE (1/17/2011 at 5:46 p.m.):  There's been an update regarding the prospects going to the Cubs.  According to Fox Sports, one of the prospects heading to the Cubs is outfielder Michael Burgess.  Drafted with the 49th overall pick in the 2007 amateur draft by the Nationals, Burgess projects as a corner outfielder with decent power.  While his contact rates improved last season between A and AA ball, some scouts have expressed concerns as to whether he'll make enough contact to be a productive major league regular. is also reporting that right hander A.J. Morris is the pitcher going to the Cubs.  No word on who the third player is at this point.

UPDATE (1/17/2011 at 5:41 p.m.):  Dave Cameron of USS Mariner and Fangraphs just posted an interesting tweet about Tom Gorzelanny.  Among pitchers with at least 130 IP, Gorzelanny finished 113th out of 115 in BB/9.  The only pitchers he was ahead of were Scott Kazmir and Bud Norris.  Perhaps the Cubs made the right move after all.  I'm kind of surprised I missed that to be perfectly honest.

Original Post (1/17/2011 at 3:28 p.m.):  According to Bruce Levine of ESPN Chicago, the Cubs have traded LHP Tom Gorzelanny to the Nationals in exchange for three prospects.  This report is fresh off of the Twitter "presses," so I haven't been able to find any details regarding the prospects the Cubs will receive in return.   The word is that Nationals will be giving up two pitchers and an outfielder.*  

* Judging by the Nationals top 20 prospects per John Sickels, the Nationals farm system is incredibly shallow once you get beyond Bryce Harper, Derek Norris, and Danny Espinoza.  If Cubs fans are looking for prospects to replace the quality prospects traded to the Rays (like Chris Archer), they won't be happy with this trade.  The best they can probably hope for is A.J. Cole or Michael Burgess.  Both players are nice, but they won't be difference makers at the major league level.

Apparently, after trading for Matt Garza, the Cubs felt compelled to trade one of their other five starting pitchers.  The Cubs don't need six starting pitchers.  Moving Gorzelanny allows Carlos Silva, who is due $12M next season, to slot back into the fifth spot of the rotation.  This leaves them without a proven left-handed starter.  There has been talk of moving left handed reliever James Russell into the rotation, but that would likely require removing either Randy Wells or Carlos Silva from the rotation.

From a financial perspective, the Cubs have a ton of payroll tied up for 2011.  With the Cubs signing Geovany Soto to a one year $3M contract yesterday, the Cubs payroll ballooned to $119M, and they still have least two high profile arbitration cases in Garza and Marmol to get through.  Gorzelanny was due for a considerable raise going into his second year of arbitration eligibility.  The Cubs needed to shed unnecessary payroll where ever possible, so trading Gorzelanny makes sense. 
For the Nationals, this trade represents a moderate upgrade for their rotation.  The Nationals have reportedly fallen short in their quest for Cliff Lee, Carl Pavano, Matt Garza, and Zach Greinke.  As such Gorzelanny serves as a decent, but unfulfilling, consolation prize.  The Nationals will probably fit Gorzelanny into the number four spot in their rotation behind Livan Hernandez, Jason Marquis, and Jordan Zimmerman.  

Gorzelanny went 7-9 with a 3.92 FIP, 7.86 K/9, 1.75 K/BB, and 2.3 wins above the replacement level.

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