An extensive look at the Cubs' trade deadline haul


An extensive look at the Cubs' trade deadline haul

The Cubs have essentially been out of the playoff race since May, but things took a long time to develop on the trade market.

But once things got going, the Cubs were really active, dealing away four players -- Geovany Soto, Paul Maholm, Reed Johnson and Ryan Dempster -- and acquiring five prospects in return.

Let's take a look at the newest Cubs:

Arodys Vizcaino

The 21-year-old Dominican right-hander was the main return from the Braves for Maholm and Johnson and is the real prize of the Cubs' haul this July.

He saw some time in the majors last year with a 4.67 ERA and 17 strikeouts in 17.1 innings, but that was in relief. He appeared in 26 games across three levels for the Braves' minor league system last year and started 17 games with a 3.06 ERA, 1.13 WHIP and 9.3 K9.

Vizcaino was named one of MLB's Top 100 prospects the past three winters (topping out at No. 40 prior to 2012), but underwent Tommy John surgery and the Cubs may have got him at a discount. Before he went down, Vizcaino was considered to be a better prospect than even Randall Delagado, a 22-year-old pitcher that was reportedly headed to Chicago in the Ryan Dempster deal that never happened last week.

"I think it's a great pickup," BaseballAmerica's Jim Callis said on 670 The Score Tuesday morning. "Obviously you're buying low on the guy because he's missed the whole season with Tommy John surgery. Vizcaino is a guy who was untouchable a year ago when the Braves were looking to make trades.

"Really the only question on him has been durability. He's a guy who throws in the mid-90s. He's got a tremendous curveball. He's had arm trouble in the past. The long-term question is, can he hold up and be a starter or is he more of a late-inning reliever? But it's a quality arm for two guys who weren't anywhere close to being part of the long-term plan."

BaseballProspectus' Kevin Goldstein was on 670 The Score after Tuesday's trade deadline passed and said he believes Vizcaino will likely end up as a reliever, but admits his stuff is enough to be a dominant reliever, potentially even as a closer.

Jaye Chapman

Chapman is a 25-year-old former 16th round draft pick who has never risen above the Triple-A level. However, he's found success in Gwinnett this year with a 3.52 ERA, 1.40 WHIP and 10.1 K9 in 40 games (53.2 innings). He's only started eight games in his minor league career, so he profiles as a reliever at the big-league level, likely only in the middle innings.

"He's a reliever," Callis said. "He's a guy with a fringe-y fastball, usually works in the high '80s. Has a good changeup. Probably a ceiling as a 7th inning reliever. He's more of an inventory guy. Vizcaino is the prize here."

Here's more on Vizcaino and Chapman from and CubsDen.

Jacob Brigham

Brigham, 24, is a right-handed pitcher who came to the Cubs in the Soto deal. He has never pitched above Double-A, where he has started 21 games this year to the tune of a 4.28 ERA and 1.36 WHIP.

He has also had Tommy John surgery in the past and John Arguello at CubsDen says Brigham can touch 97, but typically resides in the 92-93 mph range on his fastball.

"Brigham's got a good arm, but realistically, he's probably more of a reliever than a starter in the long run," Callis said.

In the good news department, Brigham was tied for the Texas League lead with 116 strikeouts at the time of the trade Monday night.

Christian Villanueva

The 21-year-old third baseman is the main return from the Rangers for Dempster and while he is still in High-A ball, he has performed well, with a .285.356.421 slash line in 425 plate appearances this season.

"Villanueva is a pretty interesting third baseman," Goldstein said. "He's a guy that can hit, there's no question about that. He's got a very nice swing, ability to make contact. There's the potential for power. There's a little bit of power now. He may be getting a little more down the road. He has some idea at the plate.

"He's a very good defensive third baseman. He's an average runner. He's not the biggest guy in the world (listed as 5-foot-11, 160 pounds). He doesn't have those tools that just light you up. He's one of those players that his greatest strength might be a lack of weaknesses."

Villanueva just barely cracked BaseballAmerica's pre-2012 prospect rankings, coming in at No. 100. The Rangers had top prospect Mike Olt blocking Villanueva at third base in the minors, but will the same be the case for the Cubs and Josh Vitters?

"He may become better than Vitters," Goldstein said. "Vitters has been around forever. It's easy to forget -- the guy was just 17 years old when they drafted him. He's just starting to put things together. I think Vitters at least deserves a pretty long look this year, if just to see if he's really figured it out.

Villanueva is in High-A and he's two years younger than Vitters. That's it, only 2 years younger. He's not ahead of Vitters on the timetable. I think Vitters will have the first chance and Villanueva will have plenty of time to try to prove he's better."

Kyle Hendricks

Hendricks, a 22-year-old right-handed pitcher, was taken in the eighth round of the 2011 MLB Draft and has excelled at High-A Myrtle Beach this year, posting a 2.82 ERA and 1.06 WHIP in 20 starts while posting an incredible 7.47 K:BB ratio.

Arguello calls Hendricks a four-pitch guy with a low-'90s fastball and a good changeup.

Check out more on Villanueva and Hendricks at BaseballAmerica and CubsDen.

Four takeaways: Brandon Saad breaks out in strong bounce-back performance by Blackhawks

Four takeaways: Brandon Saad breaks out in strong bounce-back performance by Blackhawks

Here are four takeaways from the Blackhawks' 3-1 win over the Anaheim Ducks at the United Center on Tuesday:

1. Brandon Saad's breakout game

After turning in one of his best efforts of the season on Sunday against Tampa Bay, the Blackhawks rewarded Saad with a promotion to the top-six again. And he took advantage of that opportunity.

In the first period alone, Saad recorded four shots on goal, scored his first of the season on the power play, drew a penalty and had a takeaway in 7:42 of ice time, which led all forwards. He finished with nine shot attempts (a season-high seven on goal) and 18:56 of ice time.

On his power-play goal, Saad battled for position in front of the net, called for the puck and scored on his second effort. He did all the right things and got rewarded, including on the empty-netter that sealed the victory.

"I've had some chances, especially as of late," Saad said. "But it's definitely nice for them to get in and get a win on top of that."

Said coach Joel Quenneville: "He was excellent tonight. ... I thought he had great speed all over the ice, had the puck way more. We’re happy for him. Big factor in the win."

2. Erik Gustafsson's slap-pass becoming a thing

For the second time this season, Gustafsson contributed to a game-winning goal that involved a fake shot and slap-pass from the point. Patrick Kane was the recipient of the cross-ice pass and buried home the one-timer from the right faceoff circle

"I can’t score by myself, so it’s better to pass it," Gustafsson joked. "No, I know Kaner is out there. He’s always getting open when someone else has the puck so it’s easy to find him and there was one guy in front of me so I wanted to pass it."

3. Blackhawks cut down on high-danger chances

On Sunday against Tampa Bay, the Blackhawks allowed 25 high-danger chances at even strength. It put them at the very bottom of the league for most on average per game, ironically falling below Anaheim.

Through two periods on Tuesday, the Blackhawks allowed zero and only five at 5-on-5 for the entire game. Certainly a 180 from two nights ago, and an area they will continue to build upon.

"We just took away those quality chances," said Corey Crawford, who made 24 saves and picked up his first win at home since Dec. 17, 2017. "I don't think they really had too many where they had time in front of the net to really think about where they wanted to shoot and our guys were on the right away in the middle of the ice and that'll give you a great chance to win a hockey game."

4. Special teams battle

There were a total of 20 penalty minutes (10 for Anaheim, 10 for Chicago), which meant lots of power play opportunities and not as much even-strength time.

The Blackhawks had four of them in the first period, and converted on the second try when Saad scored his first of the season. The penalty killed went 4-for-4, allowing a combined eight combined shots on goal but limiting the quality chances.

Chris Sale labors in World Series opener for Red Sox


Chris Sale labors in World Series opener for Red Sox

When Chris Sale was with the White Sox, fans dreamed of seeing him headline a postseason playoff rotation.

That never materialized in his time with the White Sox, but Sale is headlining a World Series rotation for the Red Sox. The 29-year-old pitched Game 1 for the Red Sox against the Dodgers on Tuesday.

Sale didn't last long, making it into the fifth and getting pulled before recording an out. In those 4+ innings, Sale gave up three runs while striking out seven.

One of the key plays of the game featured Manny Machado getting an RBI single against Sale in the third inning to tie the game at 2-2. Machado later had an RBI groundout to again tie the game in the fifth before Boston regained the lead in the bottom half of that inning.

Was that a meeting of the White Sox past (Sale) against the White Sox future (Machado)? Machado will be a highly sought after free agent this winter and the White Sox have been connected to the former Orioles infielder since last offseason.

Game 1 featured a stellar pitching matchup of Sale against Clayton Kershaw, but it didn't materialize as it looked on paper. Sale labored while Kershaw gave up five runs in 4+ innings.

This postseason hasn't been a standout one for Sale. The lefty has a 4.40 ERA in 16 1/3 innings over four appearances (three starts and a relief appearance).

The longer Chris Sale is with the Red Sox, the less this will feel relevant to the White Sox, but it is still something to see the longtime White Sox ace on the mound starting a World Series opener.