CHICAGO – When 3 PM came and went, it appeared that the Cubs would only make two minor deals before the deadline.
But just after the deadline, Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer made a big move to add a strong hitter.
The Cubs have acquired outfielder Nicholas Castellanos from the Tigers, with the Cubs giving up minor league pitchers Alex Lange (2017 1st round pick) and Paul Richan. The outfielder will be on the team’s active roster for Thursday’s game against the Cardinals with Robel Garcia heading down to Triple-A Iowa to make room on the roster.
Castellanos is in his seventh major league season, all of which have come with the Tigers. In 100 games in 2019, he has a slash line of .273/.328/.462 with 11 homers and 37 RBI.
The Cubs also made two minor deals in the final 48 hours before the deadline, with the first being for a bullpen pitcher. David Phelps, who has pitched in 17 games for the Blue Jays after missing all of 2018 after Tommy John surgery, goes to the bullpen to provide some depth for an up-and-down group in 2019. He goes in as the struggling Pedro Strop heads to the 10-day IL.
On Wednesday, the Cubs traded a player they just acquired earlier this month in a trade with the Royals. After playing in just four games with the Cubs, and with Willson Contreras fully healthy, the team sent him to the Astros in exchange for utility player Tony Kemp.
Designated for assignment on July 26, he gives manager Joe Maddon a player he can use at a multitude of positions as he has done in the past with Ben Zobrist. He is expected to return to the team at some point before the end of the season after a lengthy leave of absence, but the date is still not known.
This season, Kemp is hitting .227/.308/.417 with seven hohttps://twitter.com/JonHeyman/status/1156585440536879105mers and 17 RBI in 66 games in Houston, playing all three outfield positions along with second base. Last season, the utility player appeared in six playoff games with the Astros, hitting .286 with a homer.
So were the Cubs close on other deals? Per Jon Heyman of MLB Network, the Cubs had continued interest in Royals All-Star Whit Merrifield, but weren’t up for paying a steep price to acquire him.
Cubs would love Whit Merrifield. But the asking price has always been enormous and is said to remain so. KC loves him too.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) July 31, 2019