Reaction: Cubs trade Wellington Castillo, acquire reliever Yoervis Medina

News broke extremely early on Tuesday of a trade between the Cubs and Seattle Mariners, sending away career Cubs catcher Wellington Castillo for hard-throwing right-handed reliever Yoervis Medina.

Castillo had of course been on the trading block for quite some time. It was thought he’d return slightly more than a middle relief pitcher who will start his Cubs tenure at Triple-A.

When reports first came out of a Castillo trade to Seattle, some thought it would yield either former No. 2 overall pick Dustin Ackley–drafted as a second baseman who transitioned to left field in the big leagues–or Charlie Furbush, who was rumored to be headed to the Red Sox prior to this trade.

But it was Medina–a 26-year-old right-handed flame-thrower who happens to also possess a wicked slider, like this one.

His fastball has been down this year so far. Here are his fastball numbers from previous years till now.

According to Brooks, Medina’s velo is down quite a bit early this season. Hopefully Cubs see something they can fix pic.twitter.com/g31RmQwTt6

His strikeout numbers are also down, as seen here:

Medina had K-rates of 24.4% and 24.3% previous 2 seasons, down to 16.7% in 12 IP this year. Also has 13% BB rate this year, in line w career

There is likely a correlation between the two. Lower velocity, especially in relief often leads to fewer strikeouts. His numbers across the board are down this season. 

But he has great potential. Just look what he did last year against the Boston Red Sox, when he was completely right. 

While Castillo fit Joe Maddon’s preference for carrying three catchers on his roster, he didn’t add a ton of value otherwise. Medina has the potential to eventually aide a bullpen which has been quite disappointing this year. 

In a perfect world, Medina becomes a missing piece for the bullpen’s issues this year. And there’s precedent for it. Theo Epstein has flipped unnecessary pieces during his tenure as the Cubs’ decision-maker for pitching productivity, which was previously undervalued. 

Pitching coach Chris Bosio has played a huge role, but so has Epstein simply viewing non-traditional stats such as FIP (fielding independent pitching rate) and strikeouts/nine inning ratio. Again, Medina has been underwhelming in all categories this season. 

But, history tends to be a better indicator than an extremely small sample size of nine innings–the amount Medina has thrown this year in 12 big league appearances. 

Medina can be a key player in the Cubs’ expected postseason push this season. If he is, it’s yet another great trade by Epstein and the current Cubs front office. 

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