CHICAGO – The Chicago White Sox entered Friday the most advanced team in the major tournaments.
But General Manager Rick Hahn took a step with a larger goal in mind.
The Sox had a vast hit hours prior Friday’s trade deadline, getting the Chicago Cubs closer to Craig Kimbrel in the second deal between the two teams in as many days.
“There’s a lot of excitement here today,” Han said. “Walking through the club, the players and staff are enjoying what appears to be an extra spring in their stride and extra energy.”
The move came at a distinguished price – the Cubs received second baseman Nick Madrigal and loyalist Cody Hoyer in return.
“It’s not simple to part with Nick Madrigal,” Han said. “Parting with Codi Heuer is not simple. (Cubs boss) Jade (Heuer) will tell you how much we fought over it. In the end, they were both key pieces from the Cubs perspective in order to get the deal done.
“And we understood going into this process that the only way we were going to secure Kimbrel was by getting the clear best offer. In the end, that was the price.”
This was the third trade of the week for the Sox and the second with Cubs following Ryan Tepera added on Thursday. The Sox also acquired second baseman Cesar Hernandez in a business deal with Cleveland on Thursday.
“It’s a move by the fore office,” said Sox director Tony La Russa. “The addition of (Kimbrel), Tepera and Hernández, is just a bonus for the players for the first half of his breach to be in that position.
“There is a lot of trust and confidence in our fore office, so nothing was done, I think (the players) were convinced they were trying. But to actually pull these moves is really a message that the fore office is sending to the team, ‘Hey, you busted your ass to get in.’” Up here, and now here’s some aid to finish it off.”
Kimbrel was the best savior available on Deadline Trade. He has given the Sox one of the best late groups in the majors along with Liam Hendriks. Both appeared in this year’s All-Star Game. Kimbrel was a little surprised that the White Sox was his destination due to the presence of the Hendriks.
“You have no idea when it comes to this final minute stuff, but I’m excited,” Kimbrel said on Friday afternoon at the Nationals Park. “It’s a distinguished football club and I’m happy to be a part of them and preserve things going.”
Kimbrel is an eight-time All-Star and has been shocking this season with the Cubs, going 2-3 with 0.49 ERA, 64 hits, 23 saves and 0.71 WHIP in 39 appearances (36 2/3 runs).
“The biography speaks for itself,” Han said. “As I discussed with Craig, a few weeks ago (Executive Vice President) Kenny (Williams) and I asked each other about all the players expected to be transferred, let’s say we can only get one, who would it be? And I had it and it was the alike answer and that was the player we got it today.”
At Madrigal and Heuer, the Cubs welcome young players who have shown some of their greatest potential in the league.
Madrigal, 24, underwent season-ending surgery on June 15 to repair a torn right hamstring. No. 4 picks in the 2018 draft included .305/.349/.425 slashes, 10 doubles, four triples, two home runs, 21 RBI and 30 innings in 54 games this season.
Heuer, 25, made a vast impact off the pen as a rookie in 2020, going 3-0 with 1.52 ERA in 21 games. The right-hander has not found the alike consistency this season. He’s 4-1 with 5.12 ERA in 40 games.
La Rosa said: “Nick Madrigal is a really distinguished player with a distinguished coming.” “Cody is the right age, I got him under control, he has vast potential.
“I told Codi, the only time I pull for the Cubs is when he’s playing. Unless he’s attacking us.”
Kimbrel, the active leader in his career saves 371 – ninth in the all-time list – was one of baseball’s best loyalists. He has held opposing hitters averaging .106 and .190 on a percentage basis and .336 OPS this season while his ERA is the best in the majors among the hitters.
“It was unbelievable,” Tebera said. “It was fun to watch. (Andrew) Chavin and I put it back for him and he went out and did his job. I think he’s better than he’s ever been.”
After signing with Cubs in June 2019, Kimbrel struggled, finishing the season with a 6.53 ERA, and those issues took place in 2020. But he started on the right track final September and since then has a 0.41 ERA (twice he’s earned in 44 innings), going 24 of 26 in providing opportunities. Kimbrel’s 2.1 Wins Above Replacement (WAR) tops all painkillers.
“There are clearly sentiments in the trading and there are some unhappy things as well,” Kimbrel said. “The relationships you build around people, especially a lot of people here, who were considerate of with me when things weren’t going well and helped me get back to work and get over it and get back to where I am now.
“I’m so grateful for that and thank them, so saying goodbye is forever firm.”
Kimbrel has been an attractive business asset to the Cubs other than his stellar numbers. It’s more than just a rental piece – it has a $16 million option for 2022 with a $1 million purchase. There is also a $6 million club option for 2022 for Hernandez without a purchase.
“Doing 2022 is significant,” Han said. “It’s real. We don’t see this as an isolated case in any way. We didn’t see it like that when we started this process in 2016. We want to do everything we can to expand this window and make this an annual event. The additional control over (Kimbrel and Hernández) greatly influenced acquisition decisions.”
When the trade deadline has passed, the Sox will likely be with one of the top bulls in the majors and more power in their lineup with Hernández.
“Today we are better than we were yesterday,” Han said. “We know it. We are better this weekend than we were final weekend. We look forward to (midfield) Lewis Robert continuing to advance (in the rehab task) and joining us over the next few weeks. (Catcher) Yasmane Grandal is not far from him. Much.
“And knocking on the wood, we persevere to build on what we did in the first four months, get healthy and acclimatize to these unused players at our club and put ourselves in a position by October to be a very perilous team. That is the goal.”