The Cubs have acquired lefty reliever Justin Wilson and catcher Alex Avila from the Tigers for infielders Jeimer Candelario and Isaac Paredes and a player to be named later or cash, as first reported by FanRag’s Jon Heyman and FOX’s Ken Rosenthal.
The trade is the second major deal of the month for the aggressive Cubs, who already sent prospects Eloy Jimenez and Dylan Cease to the White Sox as part of a four-player package for lefty Jose Quintana. Chicago has opened up a 2.5-game lead on the Brewers in the NL Central after a sluggish start and is considered the favorite to win the division again this season.
Wilson drew interest from about a dozen teams over the last month. The Nationals, Astros and Dodgers were all known to be pushing hard for Wilson in advance of tomorrow’s non-waiver trade deadline, but some of those clubs were wary of meeting Detroit’s high asking price. Baltimore’s Zach Britton and San Diego’s Brad Hand represent the top alternatives to Wilson on the board and could also be moved by the deadline.
Wilson, who turns 30 next month, owns a 2.68 ERA and 12.3 K/9 in 40.1 innings for Detroit this season. His trade value is aided by his contract situation, as he is owed $2.7 million this year and is under control for 2018.
Chicago will likely utilize Wilson as a setup man for Wade Davis this season and slide him into the closer role if Davis departs in free agency over the winter. The trade is the fourth major left-handed deadline addition in the last two years for the Cubs, who acquired Mike Montgomery and Aroldis Chapman on their way to a World Series last year and kicked off trade season with the acquisition of Jose Quintana earlier this month.
Avila, 30, has hit .271/.392/.472 with 11 homers and 32 RBI in 76 games for Detroit after signing a one-year deal with the club over the winter. He is the son of general manager Al Avila, who had to make the difficult call to trade his own son as part of the Tigers’ rebuild.
Avila will provide a veteran presence behind Willson Contreras on the Cubs’ depth chart before becoming a free agent this winter. Chicago was also linked to New York’s Rene Rivera, Texas’ Jonathan Lucroy and Miami’s A.J. Ellis in recent weeks.
Candelario, 23, has appeared in 16 games for the Cubs over the last two years and ha the ability to play at both corner infield spots. He was an obvious candidate to be dealt due the fact he’s blocked by Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo in the majors, but is a strong offensive talent with the ability to hit for power.
Candelario has hit .266/.361/.507 with 12 homers in 81 games with Triple-A Iowa this season. Though he is ranked by MLB.com as the top prospect in the Cubs’ system (with Jimenez and Cease gone) and the no. 92 prospect in all of baseball, Baseball America is a bit less impressed, ranking him ninth among Chicago’s prospects.
Paredes, an 18-year-old shortstop, was signed out of Mexico for $800k by the Cubs in 2015. He has hit .261/.341/.399 with seven homers in 91 games for Single-A South Bend so far this year, coming in as BA’s no. 5 prospect in the system and tenth according to MLB.com.
Candelario and Paredes will both shoot toward the top of the Tigers’ farm system, joining no. 12 prospect Dawel Lugo and no. 21 prospect Sergio Alcantara, who were sent over in the J.D. Martinez deal with Arizona. Detroit may have more moves in store, with Justin Verlander, Ian Kinsler and Jose Iglesias all on the rumor mill with 16 hours before the deadline.
For a look at every deal completed this July, be sure to check out our 2017 Trade Deadline Tracker.