The Cubs sent Paul Maholm and Reed Johnson to Atlanta in the deal. While both were important to this year’s team, especially with their recent success, neither one will be missed too badly beyond this year.
In return, the Cubs received tremendous value in pitchers Jaye Chapman and Arodys Vizcaino. Chapman should end up as a nice guy to have out of the bullpen, but the real prize here is Vizcaino.
Before his injury in the spring, Vizcaino was a top 3 prospect in a loaded Atlanta system, and was considered untouchable. Tommy John Surgery changed that, landing Vizcaino on the shelf for 2012, but it was something that was very likely going to happen at some point given his makeup.
The plan for Vizcaino in Atlanta was to use him out of the ‘pen initially, as they did in 2011 and in the spring this year, before moving him to the rotation for the long term. Would Tommy John surgery change that plan now that Vizcaino is now in Chicago?
I would imagine the Cubs will stick to a similar plan. Vizcaino has the stuff to be a starter, with a fastball in the mid-90s and some plus breaking pitches. He could be a dominant reliever, but also projects as a front end starter at some point down the road.
The future of the Cubs rotation isn’t exactly clear. Heading into 2013, you have Jeff Samardzija, Travis Wood, and not much else. That’s assuming Matt Garza is traded this winter, as most figure he will be. Vizcaino will have every opportunity to make the team as a starter in the spring.
As long as Vizcaino is ready for spring training, I’d expect the Cubs to stretch him out as a starter in march. Even if he ends up starting 2013 in the bullpen, I completely expect him to become a mainstay in the Chicago Cubs rotation for the long term.