With the residual effects of the lockout looming over baseball fans everywhere like a dark specter, fans and writers alike are left to ponder on what could be. This piece is exactly that – what could be.

Based on the idea of a challenge trade, this variation is a prospect for prospect trade. While rare, it is something Cleveland has pulled off several times in the past few years (Mercado, Mathias), most recently sending shortstop Junior Caminero to the Tampa Bay Rays for right-hander Tobias Myers.

The following piece is a collaboration with NorthSideBound.com co-founder and draft writer Greg Zumach representing the Chicago Cubs. Check out his MLB Draft work and the deal from their perspective.

Background

It is pretty safe to say the front offices of the Cubs and Guardians are familiar with one another (Cubs GM Carter Hawkins was hired from Cleveland) and the two clubs have shown a willingness to work together. Notably, with these clubs matching up for one trade already, sending Harold Ramirez to Chicago for cash considerations. With fans and writers (including myself and the Athletic’s Zack Meisel) linking the two organizations as potential trade partners.

There were several numerations of a trade set forth on both sides, as would be the case in any trade scenario. The conversation started with a discussion involving the availability of Guardians prospects Jose Tena and Tanner Burns.

These talks carried on for a few days, taking a variety of shapes and with one near deal stalling near the finish line involving Alexander Canario and Tanner Burns. Cubs outfield prospects Nelson Velazquez and Pete Crow-Armstrong were discussed in a couple of scenarios that involved Cody Morris, Tanner Burns, and Jose Tena as potential returns. However, a match was not found with any of these pieces. 

The deal

The tone of the discussions was cordial, with both sides continuing to search for a value that made sense for their respective organizations.

A deal was ultimately struck, sending RHP Xzavion Curry to the North Side while bringing OF Alexander Canario back to the North Coast.

For the Cubs

The rationale for the Cubs bringing Curry back in this deal represents acquiring a near-ready arm and potential starting depth. Chicago utilizes its depth in the outfield for an arm that could help the back of the rotation.

For Cleveland

The rationale- or the Guardians acquiring Canario would add a talented outfield prospect while maximizing a position of depth. In this trade, the athleticism and upside represent a risk worth taking. The young outfielder is on the 40-man roster meaning a spot would need to be cleared to complete the deal. For the North Coast Defenders, Canario would represent something that is lacking in the upper-levels of the minors, that is a potential long-term fit in right field.

Xzavion Curry Profie:

RHSP

Ht: 5’11; Wt: 190; Age: 23

Acquired: 7th Round, 2019 Georgia Tech

Level: Lynchburg / Lake County / Akron

Stats: 97.2 IP / 123 K / 16 BB / .196 AVG / 0.89 WHIP

The former Yellow Jackets’ frontman has a small, compact, athletic frame. Curry missed the 2019 season with a shoulder injury, but burst onto the scene, covering three levels and finishing his season at Double-A Akron. On the bump, he has a solid four-pitch-mix with a repeatable delivery, with a quick short arm swing and over-the-top delivery. 

Pitch-wise, Curry generates backspin on his fastball, giving it that ‘rise’ effect as it runs up out of the zone. The righty sits 91-94 and touches 95 with reports of 96 mph. A north/south pitcher, Curry has a swing and miss-inducing curveball that drops vertically through the zone and can be buried in the dirt. He rounds out his repertoire with a low-80’s slider that works surprisingly well with the delivery and an underdeveloped mid-80’s changeup.

The right-hander could stick as a back of the rotation type arm because of his advanced ability to maximize his fastball/curveball combo mostly and pound the strike zone repeatedly. Curry could move to the bullpen where he could best maximize this strong 2 pitch combination and the lack of a third pitch would be minimized.

Willie Hood’s Grades on Curry

FB– 50

CB– 55

SL– 50

CH- 45

Control– 55

OFP – 45

Alexander Canario Profile

Outfielder

Ht: 6’1; Wt: 200; Age: 21

Level: San Jose / South Bend / (40-man roster)

Stats: .230 BA / 18 HR / 20 DBL / 4 TR / 21 SB / 125 K / 43 BB

Canario is the classic case of a player with massive projectable tools, but with some flaws that hinder his overall ability. Time is of the essence for the right-handed masher after missing the 2020 COVID-19 impacted season, his leash just got a little shorter. While he is only 21 years old, Canario only has two options remaining. It is not ideal, as many young players need that extra time, and Canario will be facing more advanced competition as he advances through the system. One writer likened the young outfielder to Blue Jays outfielder Teoscar Hernandez.

At the dish, Canario is still developing his ability to identify breaking pitches. As with other young power hitters, there is swing and miss to his game, but he has shown encouraging walk rates early in his career. Canario will need to continue to make adjustments at the dish to navigate the upper minors. The right-handed-hitting outfielder has posted multiple 105-100+ exit velocities, translating to plus power potential in-game.

The former Giants’ farmhand has filled out his once 165 lb frame with the natural maturation, he’s lost a step along the way. There is still enough speed to handle center field on occasion, but it would play better in right field. Canario has shown off a strong and accurate arm that should handle the rigors of right field daily. He got off to a late start of the season due to a shoulder injury (and he missed developmental time in 2020), but there’s reason to believe the toolsy outfielder can become a potential middle-of-the-order bat in time.

Willie Hood’s Grades on Canario

Hit: 40

Power: 60

Speed: 50

Arm: 60

Glove: 50

OFP: 45

Summary

Some Cleveland Guardians fans may recognize the name Alexfri Planez, Canario is a similarly tooled-up outfielder. In this scenario, it meant acquiring a key piece of the Kris Bryant trade with the Giants. The Cubs aren’t married to the young slugging outfielder like they would be Nelson Velazquez, who they’ve developed and could be ready to impact their roster. 

Overall, it is a tweener arm for a tweener outfielder. Curry’s MLB clock has yet to start, while Canario is already on the 40-man roster and down to two option years. This move would create a unique opportunity to bring in an exciting young, talented outfielder with plenty of development ahead. This deal buys on the ability of this organization to continue to develop young hitters while adding a potential future piece to an exciting farm system. At the end of the day, we are left with the reality of Winter’s cold grip and thoughts of what could be when the MLB lockout ends.

4 Comments »

  1. More than anything, I appreciate the content! Thanks!!
    As for the trade, honestly, it leaves me somewhat cold. I get the “tweener for tweener” aspect but I feel like we get the lesser of the two. Unless of course, you like Canario that much. Frankly, if you can’t put the bat on the ball, the rest is superfluous to me.
    I would liken this deal to trading XzC for Will Benson. Xzavion could contribute on some level, even if as trade bait, whereas players like this likely won’t IMHO. Also, the diff between him and Planez is Alex has more development time, there is more upside. Here you have a ticking clock working against you with Canario.

  2. Nunzio raises good points. Not a good deal as currently setup. At least 26 other MLB teams want to get their hands on CLE pitching/ pitching depth. Let those clubs overpay to get it..

    Otherwise the Cubs can get Logan S Allen for the cash and a lotto ticket type prospect…

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