Bears

More on new Cub Barret Loux

696480.png

More on new Cub Barret Loux

The biggest news out of Tuesday was the Cubs designating Bryan LaHair for assignment, while the trade for Barret Loux flew under the radar a bit.

The Cubs dealt Jacob Brigham (acquired in the Geovany Soto trade in July) back to the Rangers, receiving Loux, a 23-year-old right-handed pitcher, in return as a sort of re-do on the Soto deal after Brigham was limited to just two appearances for the Cubs' Double-A affiliate in Tennessee. The Cubs will also receive a player to be named later.

Loux was drafted out of Stratford High School in Texas in 2007, going in the 24th round to the Detroit Tigers. He opted to attend Texas A & M instead, and was selected in the MLB Draft three years later, going sixth overall to the Diamondbacks in 2010.

The Houston native was bothered by shoulder and elbow problems and wound up a free agent, signing with the Rangers in November 2010.

Unlike Brigham, Loux appears to have regained his health, starting 46 games over the past two seasons. He's pitched well in those 236 innings, striking out 227 batters with a 22-6 record, 3.62 ERA and 1.28 WHIP.

In response to the deal Tuesday, Baseball America crafted a blurb on the 6-foot-5 righty, shedding some light on Loux's free agent status two years ago as well as a scouting report on the young starter.

"Loux reached Double-A in 2012 and made all his starts without incident, showing a simple, repeatable delivery and an idea of how to pitch," John Manuel and Matt Eddy wrote. "He works downhill, sits 90-92 mph and commands his fastball to both sides of the plate, though neither his velocity nor his secondary pitches separate him from the pack.

"His average slider and curveball blend together, but most scouts like his changeup best and think he knows how and when to use it. He profiles as an innings-eating No. 5 type on a good team."

Loux may never become an ace at the big-league level, but he has first-round upside and isn't a bad get for an organization lacking in quality starting pitching prospects.

Reworking his fundamentals might be the key to unlocking Leonard Floyd's potential

Reworking his fundamentals might be the key to unlocking Leonard Floyd's potential

If new outside linebackers coach Ted Monachino was looking to make a strong impression during his first media availability on Wednesday afternoon, he certainly hit his mark. 

“I think Leonard [Floyd] as a pure, natural pass-rusher has a bigger tool box than anybody else I’m coaching right now,” Monachino said. “I want everybody to understand what I just said. The better rusher right now is [Khalil Mack] but the natural pass-rush ability, the pass-rush gene? 94 has it.” 

Comparisons to Mack aside, it’s easy to see Monachino’s point. Since being drafted out of the University of Georgia 9th overall in 2016, coaches in Halas Hall have spoken with a sense of wonder about Floyd’s athleticism. He did, after all, have the 5th-best 40-time (4.60) among OLBs at the 2016 combine. Not to mention the 3rd-best broad jump (10’7”). And the 2nd-best vertical jump (39.5). 

“His length and his explosiveness in a short space, those things negate all other disadvantages,” Monachino added. “As a power rusher at the top of the pocket, I don’t think he’s going to have any problem. I don’t think he’s ever been groomed that way.” 

OTAs are about as laid back as team-sanctioned activities get in the NFL; it’s slow-paced and conceptual by nature. Basically, it’s the perfect environment for a player who’s looking to strengthen fundamentals. For every Floyd conversation that’s started with his raw athleticism, there’s one that’s ended with his lack of production. 

“I’ve been focusing on getting better at what I’ve been bad at last year, so I’ve just been grinding,” Floyd said. “I just wanted to just really get back and learn the fundamentals. I’ve just been practicing them and trying to elevate my game.

“It’ll help me when we start in Training Camp. Just really working on my hands, playing with good technique, and learning the new defense. I’m trying to elevate myself by learning as much as I can about that.” 

It’s important to note that injuries have played a major role, as he’s missed time in each season with a concussion (2016), MCL tear (2017), and hand fracture (2018). Still, Floyd has yet to record more than 7 sacks, and that came in his rookie season. Since then, he’s had 4 and 4.5. 

“I think the sacks will come...” Monachino said. “... As he gets better at one or two things, his numbers will go up. The thing that may happen first are the effective rushes. He may affect the quarterback, he may affect the launch point, he may move a guy off the spot. The more those come on, the more productive rushes he’s going to have.” 

The Bears are banking on Floyd finding those effective rushes, quite literally. At their end-of-season press conference, GM Ryan Pace announced that they intended to pick up Floyd’s 5th-year option in 2020. They officially did so in March, and are now on the hook for for paying him $13.2 million that year. Good pass rushing doesn’t come cheap, but the Bears will be expecting more out of Floyd from here on out. He’s certainly expecting it out of himself. 

“It’s exciting, me and coach were talking about it,” he said, when asked about getting closer to his ceiling this season. “ I’ve just got to come in every day and keep working hard and it’ll payoff. So I’m coming in every day focused and trying to help the team.”

Under Center Podcast: Takeaways from Week 1 of OTAs

bears_helmet_usa_today.png
USA TODAY

Under Center Podcast: Takeaways from Week 1 of OTAs

JJ Stankevitz and Cam Ellis dive into a few interesting developments from OTAs at Halas Hall on Wednesday, including Bradley Sowell’s position change (0:30) and Leonard Floyd’s upside (5:30). Plus, hear from Eddie Jackson and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix about how the ‘Bama safety pair came to be re-united in Chicago (12:30). 

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below:

Under Center Podcast

Subscribe: