In what was a trade that was a foregone conclusion, the Detroit Tigers have traded closer Justin Wilson and catcher Alex Avila to the Chicago Cubs for minor league infielder Jeimer Candelario and another minor league infielder Isaac Paredes. In addition to the two minor leaguers’ the Tigers will also receive cash or a player to be named later.
The defending champion Cubs have a 2.5 game lead over the surprising Milwaukee Brewers currently, but have struggled mightily with their bullpen and were looking for a catcher after trading away the clubhouse cancer that is known as Miguel Montero.
Justin Wilson came to the Tigers in 2015, when he was acquired from the New York Yankees for Luis Cessa and Chad Green. Wilson had his ups and downs last year, but came out strong to start the season and took over for Francisco Rodriguez as the closer after K-Rod looked like he was throwing BP to the other team. Since taking over as the closer, Wilson has a 3.65 ERA, a .205 average against, with 29 K’s, and 11 saves, blowing 2 saves in 13 chances.
Although many of us Tiger fans can’t stand Avila, he’s had some huge hits this season and really filled in nicely as James McCann continues to struggle. On top of that, any team has to appreciate signing a guy to a one-year deal and getting tons of trade value out of him once out of the playoffs for a minimal cost, and the Tigers got that with Alex. For the season, Avila was hitting .274, with 11 homers, 11 doubles, and an .869 OPS. Alex has cooled off the second half of the season though, as he hit .299 in the first half with 11 homers (in 64 games), but hitting just .125 in the second half, with no extra base hits (in 13 games).
The big win for the Tigers here, is Jeimer Candelario, who is a 23-year old, switch hitting infielder, who has played 16 games at the Major League level (mostly 3B). Cadelario can be seen on various Top 100 prospect lists and was just recently the only Cubs minor leaguer who made MLB Pipeline’s mid-season list (92nd) and was rated the Cubs top prospect. There isn’t a lot to speak about in Candelario’s 50 Major League plate appearances, but at Triple-A Iowa this season, Jeimer was hitting .266 with 27 doubles, 3 triples, 12 homers, 52 RBI, and an .868 OPS. Candelario looks like an extra base threat, who’s going to walk a bit, strike out a bit more, and knock in some runs. Before being traded, scouts claimed Candelario could start for a few teams at the Major League level already, but was hopelessly blocked by Kris Bryant.
The other player the Tigers received in the trade is an 18-year old, right handed hitting infielder (SS/3B) in Isaac Paredes. Paredes is rated by MLB Pipeline as the Cubs 10th ranked prospect and was at Single-A South Bend in the Midwest league before being traded. Currently, Paredes is hitting .264, with a .744 OPS and 25 doubles(!) along with 7 homers in 384 plate appearances. As Isaac continues to grow, scouts believe he’ll be third basemen who can handle the strike zone and offer 15+ homers a season.
I obviously did not like the J.D. Martinez trade, but believe the Tigers fared much better trading a player who was still controllable for another year and landed a top-100 prospect, as well as another prospect who is young and showing potential already.