What the Yu Darvish Trade Means for the Chicago Cubs?

The Yu Darvish trade: Chicago Cubs trade RHP and C Victor Caratini to the San Diego Padres for RHP Zach Davies, SS Reginald Preciado (Padres’ No. 11 prospect per MLB Pipeline), OF Owen Caissie (No. 13), OF Ismael Mena (No. 15), SS Yeison Santana (No. 16)

Yu Darvish Trade – What are the Cubs doing?

The answer to this is pretty simple to me and here it is; cutting payroll. The large market Chicago Cubs are cutting payroll and I think the Ricketts family (Owners of the Cubs) is content with one ring. The NL Central is going to be bad this year and they don’t have to cut payroll or trade from their core to win this season but the Ricketts don’t want any part of that.

Congrats to all Padres fans and AJ Preller because you are getting a Cy Young level veteran pitcher that is going to take the ball for you on opening day this season, plus his own personal catcher. I have always thought Caratini could start on most teams and he will still be splitting time with Austin Nola but I think he will get a boost in playing time. Darvish and Caratini give them a very real chance to get the west from the Dodgers.

Yu Darvish Trade – Cubs Acquisitions

Zach Davies is the only player in this trade that has played anywhere above Single-A. He was on the Brewers for a few years so he is familiar with the NL Central and he will slide in as the number two starter as of right now. At the surface level, I am not happy about the trade but I do get to nerd out and break down these eighteen-year-olds that they traded for, so here we go.

These will be short (hopefully…but I will nerd out) and I will comp each player but take those with a grain of salt because these are young players. It is more for reference and to give some information on each player. I am also going to break down some video (if I can find them) and give you what I see.

Shortstop Reginald Preciado

  • Age: 17
  • 6’4” 185 pounds
  • B: Switch
  • T: Right
  • Signed out of Panama for $1.3 million in 2020

Yu Darvish Trade – Reginald Preciado First Thoughts

First thing I noticed is he can add a lot of good weight to his body and still be athletic. I found some video of him fielding and he has good feet and looks like a solid athlete. I imagine he won’t stick at shortstop because he can add some weight and move to third base since he doesn’t look all that quick.

Reginald reminds me of Adalberto Mondesi of the Royals. They are both 6’4” and lanky and have very similar setups at the plate. They also have some similarities in their actual swings. 

I was lucky enough to find some batting practice footage and in-game footage. He has a very simple compact swing and he looks more natural from the left side, but as I mentioned it was just a couple of minutes of video. He has a good feel for the zone for being very young including a knack for finding the barrel. Once the Cubs get a hold of him they should really focus on getting his legs involved in his swing.

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Yu Darvish Trade – Reginald Preciado Overall Thoughts

Reginald Preciado is a seventeen-year-old so he is a long way from what he could be but I can definitely see the potential with him. He looks to be advanced for a seventeen-year-old and this is a kid to be excited about and to watch for in the next couple of seasons.

OF Owen Caissie

  • Age: 18
  • 6’4” 190 pounds
  • B: Left
  • T: Right
  • Drafted in the 2nd round 45th pick overall in 2020.

This is a big kid and he has some massive power potential. He isn’t a great athlete but he has good body control in the field with a pretty strong arm. He has some room to put on some more muscle to get into his power. He isn’t a terrible runner from the video I saw but the Cubs are betting on his power potential as he fits that corner outfield profile.

Video courtesy of Prospects Live

Owen reminds me of Sean Casey who had a really good career with the Reds and Tigers, and Twins prospect Trevor Larnach. Larnach and Caissie are similar because both have power potential, but can they tap into it. Both are big corner outfielders who have really similar setups at the dish.

Owen Caissie at the Plate

I really like his swing because of how short and compact it is. The batting practice swings I saw showed the power potential but the in-game swings showed a more linear bat path that was more conducive to line drives than fly balls. He did have some strikeout issues in the video I watched, but when the Cubs get him they can fix some of that.

Owen Caissie is a very young eighteen-year-old who will need some time in the minors to develop but this is another guy that I like. He has a very nice swing and the Cubs have shown that they can develop young hitters. If Owen Caissie can tap into that raw power, Cubs fans will really like this guy.

yu darvish trade owen caissie

OF Ismael Mena

  • Age: 18
  • 6’3” 185 pounds
  • B: Left
  • T: Left
  • Signed for $2.2 million in 2019

Athlete. Ismael Mena is an athlete and he can cover some ground in centerfield. Honestly, he could probably go play centerfield in Chicago right now and he would do a good job. He gets praised for his baseball IQ and he is another guy who can put on some good weight.

I have seen comps of Gregory Polanco and Franchy Cordero but he reminds me more of Magneuris Sierra for the Marlins. Ismael is several inches taller, but both have handsy line-drive oriented swings plus they can really run and play a good outfield.

Ismael Mena at the Plate

As I just mentioned, Ismael has a very handsy swing but he is very good at finding the barrel. A common theme here is he doesn’t use his legs much in his swing, but that is something that all young hitters struggle with. He knows the zone from the videos I have watched and I was very impressed at the rate that he was finding the barrel and spraying line drives into the outfield.

Another young tall and lanky prospect that will be fun to follow if you are a prospect nerd like myself. Ismael is another guy I like but he will need some time in the minors to develop. He is already a good outfielder so if he can continue to find barrels and get into his legs, this may be the least risky prospect in the trade so far.

SS Yeison Santana

  • Age: 20
  • 5’11” 170 pounds
  • B: Right
  • T: Right
  • Signed for at least $300,000 (couldn’t find the exact number) in 2017

This is my favorite piece of the trade right here (I didn’t like the trade but let’s at least look at some positives). Yeison Santana doesn’t get cheated at the plate and he is another candidate to put on some good weight. He is a good, not great runner and everything I have read says he is a legit shortstop, but I couldn’t find much for defensive video.

This one is tough to comp and honestly I couldn’t think of a good one. Most of today’s shortstops are bigger guys now so he isn’t fitting today’s prototype. The only guy that makes a little sense is Ruddy Giron who is a former Padres top prospect but he is a bigger guy and not the same defensive player that Yeison is.

ENJOYING MY YU DARVISH TRADE ARTICLE? CHECK OUT: Chicago Cubs Offseason Preview/Review

Yeison Santana at the Plate

I love his swing and his approach. He doesn’t get cheated at the plate with the hard but controlled swing he has. He has a very advanced approach at the plate and has shown that he is a tough scrappy at-bat (across two levels of rookie ball he has 68 strikeouts to 53 walks). He looks like he will make a lot of hard contact once he starts to get consistently on time with his leg kick.

Yeison Santana is by far my favorite prospect from this trade. He is the oldest at 20 years old and he is the most matured when it comes to his baseball skill. Yeison is yet another exciting guy to follow once he gets into full-season ball.

Yu Darvish Trade Recap

There was a theme that the Cubs went for here and it was athletic, young, kind of boom or bust lottery ticket type prospects. It is a very risky deal as these guys could never make it past A ball but that is the hand that we are dealt as fans. If you are a prospect nerd and want to listen to my personal rankings just based on who I like I’d rate them like this: 

  1. SS Yeison Santana
  2. SS Reginald Preciado
  3. OF Ismael Mana
  4. OF Owen Caissie

What Are They Doing?

I would strap in for a long off-season of Jed and company trading away everyone. I was hoping it wasn’t going to happen but I think this was step one. Cutting payroll is what they look like they are doing so it will probably be a full-scale rebuild. It won’t be fun and it might even be borderline sad but let’s hope we get some legit prospects back to anchor our farm system and let’s run it back.

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