Cubs Trade Ronny Cedeno; Get Living, Breathing Pitcher in Return
The Cubs moved yet another once-upon-a-time prospect in Ronny Cedeno today, along with left-handed pitcher Garrett Olson to the Seattle Mariners for Aaron Heilman. You'll remember Olson as the pitcher the Cubs received along with Hank Williamson for Felix Pie about a week and a half ago. That makes the net trade:
Cubs get: Hank Williamson, Aaron Heilman
Cubs lose: Ronny Cedeno, Felix Pie
Cedeno's fate was likely sealed when the Cubs acquired Aaron Miles and I'll shed no tears on this loss. Cedeno might be more talented than Ryan Theriot, but he's shown all the baseball intelligence of a junior high dropout. I also find it a bit amusing that the one rookie that Dusty Baker ever gave much of a legitimate shot of playing time to - besides maybe Matt Murton - was Cedeno in 2006. Dusty Baker's eye for talent strikes yet again.
Heilman has been on the Cubs radar for awhile, always known to be a Hendry favorite. The Notre Dame alum had a brutal 2008 season, with a 5.21 ERA for the Mets and was part of the three-team deal for J.J. Putz earlier this offseason. His K/9 rate went up to a nice 9.47 last year, but it went along with a skyrocketing BB/9 rate of 5.45. Fangraphs (using Pitch F/x data) says he throws mostly a fastball and change-up with the occassional slider, while Sportsnet says it's a splitter and fastball with the occasional fastball and change. He has also made it clear on many occasions that he would prefer to be a starter, which is probably why he got shipped out of New York.
Heilman signed a one year, $1.625M deal to avoid arbitration with the Mariners and is set to be a free agent after the 2010 season and the deal cleared a spot on the 40-man roster.
I assume many are worried that moving Garrett Olson means the end of the Jake Peavy sweepstakes for the Cubs, as the Padres made it clear he was a pitcher they desired. I, of course, have no idea if that is true or not. To play devil's advocate, it could mean the Cubs are now willing to move Sean Marshall and covet Aaron Heilman more for that swing-man role. I think that's less likely of a scenario, but it is possible.
In the end, the Cubs moved a useless part (Cedeno) and a promising player with no roster flexibility (Pie) for a pitcher I think is a pretty good bet to bounce back next season. From 2005-2007, Heilman put up ERA's of 3.17, 3.62, and 3.03 with anywhere from 76 to 108 IP. Considering the volatility of relief pitchers, there's certainly a good chance that he can rebound to those levels.