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Cubs trade former top prospect, first-round pick Brett Jackson to Diamondbacks

Aug 15, 2014, 11:50 AM EDT

Brett Jackson AP

While the Cubs wait for their current array of stud prospects to reach the majors together they traded away a former top prospect, dealing 2009 first-round draft pick Brett Jackson to the Diamondbacks for Triple-A reliever Blake Cooper.

Jackson cracked Baseball America’s top-100 prospects list in 2010, 2011, and 2012–ranking 35th overall in the final year–and made his MLB debut as a 23-year-old in 2012. However, the outfielder hit just .175 with 59 strikeouts in 44 games and hasn’t been back to the majors.

This season at Triple-A he hit .210 with a .646 OPS in 81 games and he wasn’t much better last year, batting .223 with a .667 OPS in 61 games. Jackson is now 25 and the Cubs are so convinced he no longer has any upside that they were willing to deal him for a 26-year-old non-prospect with a 6.00 ERA as a Triple-A reliever.

Prospects, man. They’ll break your heart.

  1. brewpack42 - Aug 15, 2014 at 11:53 AM

    He must have grit.

    • gbrim - Aug 15, 2014 at 1:14 PM

      Amazing anyone thinks the grit reference is worth milking again after the first million references…..

  2. karlkolchak - Aug 15, 2014 at 12:31 PM

    Why do I have a feeling the Cubs are going to end up trading away to good prospects and keeping the busts?

    • jvandever007 - Aug 15, 2014 at 12:41 PM

      Because they are the cubs

    • cubfan531 - Aug 15, 2014 at 12:52 PM

      Jackson’s 25 and hasn’t managed to top a .250 batting average in almost 300 games at AAA. I really don’t think he winds up being the good prospect compared to Baez, Bryant, Soler, Russell, Almora, Schwarber, Alcantra…

      • karlkolchak - Aug 15, 2014 at 2:47 PM

        He’ll probably hit 30 home runs next year.

      • yahmule - Aug 15, 2014 at 3:10 PM

        Of course they said that about Jackson in comparison to other failed Cubs prospects three years ago.

  3. wilmyers09 - Aug 15, 2014 at 12:59 PM

    karlkolchak name one bust prospect that cubs have actually they dont have any so shut up

    • chc4 - Aug 15, 2014 at 1:09 PM

      Punctuation is your friend.

      • Bryz - Aug 15, 2014 at 2:11 PM

        Seems more like enemy after that post.

    • karlkolchak - Aug 15, 2014 at 2:48 PM

      Lou Brock. I win.

      • jwbiii - Aug 15, 2014 at 3:08 PM

        If you have to go back half a century to a deal made by a GM who has been dead for 35 years (that’s before any current Cub player was born), that may not be a win.

  4. rickrenteria - Aug 15, 2014 at 1:30 PM

    Theo brought BJax up too early, same with Josh Vitters, because they weren’t ‘his’ guys. They were Jim Hendry’s guys. Epstein didn’t have the kind of ‘club control’ (obnoxious term) over Jackson that he prefers, so he rushed him up and ended up destroying his confidence. Everyone who reports on the Cubs organization will tell you this. BJax was all swagger before he came up and was a broken kid afterwards.

    Notice how The hasn’t brought up a guy who has 40 bombs and 100+RBI’s in the minors this season because he cares more about protecting ‘his’ pick Kris Bryant than he did Brett Jackson…or Josh Vitters, the next obvious guy to go. Plus, in 2012, when Jackson was promoted, the Cubs weren’t trying to win. (like 2013 and 2014)

    This is all about Theo Epstein’s ego. That being said, I personally think he learned from his mistake with Jackson and Vitters and has done a better job with a player like Javy Baez, for instance.

    • muckey - Aug 15, 2014 at 1:55 PM

      Baez isn’t his guy either.

      • jslip1 - Aug 15, 2014 at 3:22 PM

        The plot thickens…

    • Wesley Clark - Aug 15, 2014 at 2:12 PM

      I don’t think this is about “his” guys (see the Baez comment above). This is about Brett Jackson not being able to hit. More specifically,striking out over 35% of the time in AAA. Brett Jackson was on the 40 man roster and did not have a future with the Cubs. It is a simple numbers crunch as there are now much better prospects coming up the minor league pipeline. The Cubs might have done Brett Jackson a favor by trading him. He probably needed a fresh start and he was not going to get that with the Cubs. I wish him the best and hope he succeeds in Arizona.

      I am not sure what you even mean by the term “club control” in the context that you used it, Whether you like Theo/Jed or not, and it is pretty apparent that you don’t, there are legitimate reasons to not promote Bryant until next year.

      • rickrenteria - Aug 15, 2014 at 2:32 PM

        There are no legitimate reasons to keep Bryant in the minors if you use Jackson and Vitters (and Lake) as examples. However, if you look at it from a business perspective, last night was Bryant’s T-shirt Jersey Night in Iowa and the Iowa Cubs have sponsors who paid big money for a promotion like that. You couldn’t very well have a Bryant Jersey Night with no Bryant.

        But gimme a break. Bryant is a major league talent who, yes, strikes out too much. Big deal.

        And, I make my point once again, why do fans pretend to care about a free agency years down the road, no matter who his agent is? Theo (and don’t even mention the ridiculous Jed Hoyer who has no power and does nothing except what Epstein tells him) has proven he will give long term contracts to guys he expects to be a big part of the Cubs future, which Bryant obviously is.

        Bryant deserves to be the Cubs starting 3rd basemen beginning tonight in New York.

        And, of course I know Baez isn’t Theo’s guy. But, if you read the last line of my original post, he learned from the BJax and Vitters disasters and did it right with Baez. So it seems at least. Baez swings sooooo hard, he’s got back issues in his future. And, he rolls his left ankle when he swings.

      • okobojicat - Aug 15, 2014 at 2:47 PM

        There are plenty of legitimate reasons to keep Bryant in the minors:
        1. He strikes out to too much
        2. He needs to work on his skills to ensure he can stay at 3B and its a lot easier to do that at AAA
        3. He’s not on the 40 man roster

        Did you complain about the Edwin Jackson signing was too long? Did you worry that Soriano wasn’t going to be worth 20m/year in the last year of his contract? If so, then you are doing the same complaint that I(we) have about delaying when Bryant is a free agent. The longer Bryant is under team control, the longer he remains cheap for the Cubs. We are not pretending to care.

        Baez and Vitters and BJax all went through pretty much the same schedule. They were all successful for an extended period of time at Iowa before promotion. Vitters and BJax just didn’t figure it out. Baez is even younger at his promotion than the other two, so you could better argue he was promoted faster.

        Your comments are simply ridiculous.

      • jwbiii - Aug 15, 2014 at 3:55 PM

        Bryant’s strikeouts are a concern. Here are some MLB players who strike out or struck out a lot, the number of times they led their league in strike outs, and their AA/AAA K rates:

        28.7% Pedro Alvarez (1)
        28.6% Mark Reynolds (4)
        26.6% Kris Bryant
        26.2% Jack Cust (3)
        23.4% Adam Dunn (4)
        18.9% Jim Thome (3)
        18.3% Sammy Sosa (3)

        The three who had, or are having, long successful careers struck out than less Bryant does. If the Cubs think they can improve his pitch recognition skills and cut his K rate, it’s better to do that in the minors.

      • Wesley Clark - Aug 15, 2014 at 4:26 PM

        Just because Jed offers a long term deal to Bryant does not mean that Bryant will accept it. In a perfect world Bryant would sign a long term deal buying out some years of free agency. This is not a perfect world. Why burn a year of service time on a season where the Cubs are not in contention when further down the line they expect to be in contention? I realize there are no certainties when it comes to prospects and team contention, but you can make smart decisions to maximize your chances. Calling up Bryant now would not maximize the Cubs future return. Service time issues are a real thing, whether you understand them or not.

        If the Cubs thought that Bryant was ready and wanted to promote him, he would have been promoted regardless of some Bryant jersey night in Iowa. That is the last concern that they have. The bigger issues are the 40 man roster, you bring up Bryant someone has to go, and the fact that this is his first full true professional season. We’ll see Soler at Wrigley a lot sooner than Bryant.

      • erbaodai - Aug 15, 2014 at 4:57 PM

        @jwbiii: If you’re going to compare Bryant to these guys, you’d better compare their numbers in the minor leagues as well.

        Alvarez: .278/.372/.516, .888 OPS
        Reynolds: .279/.360/.522, .883 OPS
        Cust: .281/.426/.509, .936 OPS
        Dunn: .304/.425/.525, .950 OPS
        Thome: .317/.419/.501, .920 OPS
        Sosa: .265/.315/.402, .717 OPS

        Now BEHOLD
        Kris Bryant: .336/.431/.685, 1.116 OPS

        Bryant crushed every single one of them in every single category.

      • jwbiii - Aug 16, 2014 at 5:58 AM

        And Bryant will continue to do so, even with the strikeouts, as long as he can keep his BABIP over .400. It sounds unsustainable, but he’s done that over a period of almost two seasons.

        Rafael Palmeiro also would have been answer to really good young players or prospects the Cubs have traded but there was a non-baseball reason for that.

    • muckey - Aug 15, 2014 at 2:29 PM

      Jackson had three years of college experience and three years of MiLB experience before his call-up. Vitters had six years of MiLB experience before his call-up. How much longer should the Cubs have waited?

    • okobojicat - Aug 15, 2014 at 2:42 PM

      I think its hilarious you attribute malice to Theo when the alternative is significantly easier and more logical. You obviously have no clue what “Team Control” means and its kind of hilarious.

      If anything, the failure of Brett Jackson to succeed in 2012 is teaching Theo to hold off on promoting his prospects too soon; Bryant’s K rate in AAA is 27.5%. MLB players don’t succeed at that rate. Brett Jackson’s was 29%. He flopped. Spectacularly.

      Vitters was promoted after spending 5 years in the minors. He had plenty of time. He’s been hurt and total failure since then. These are players who just didn’t figure out major league pitching (and can’t even hit AAA pitching right now). That’s not Theo’s fault.

    • delusionalcubsfan - Aug 15, 2014 at 2:45 PM

      Not saying it wasn’t a mistake to call up Jackson, but I don’t believe for a second that Theo wants to “destroy” players confidence just because he didn’t draft them. Theo has two World Series rings already; he’s not an that dumb.

  5. chicagocane - Aug 15, 2014 at 1:51 PM

    I’m not doubting ur thoughts on Theo but don’t try to blame anyone for Vitters and Jackson being bad…they’ve had PLENTY of time to get good again. They had a cup of coffee in the majors with NO EXPECTATIONS ….so stop crying for these guys…they’re just not any good.

    • rickrenteria - Aug 15, 2014 at 2:39 PM

      I’m not actually defending Jackson and Vitters as players, but the are human beings with feelings and doubts and everything. When you get called up, (and don’t tell me there were no expectations, because there were) and then you’re a big time bust, it takes a toll on you. It’s embarrassing. I think trading BJax was a good thing for all involved, and Vitters is surely the next to go.

      • jslip1 - Aug 15, 2014 at 3:21 PM

        You’re not defending Jackson as a player, but still blaming Theo for ruining the young man’s career somehow?

  6. yahmule - Aug 15, 2014 at 7:53 PM

    Why not keep him down until he’s 30? That will be cost effective.

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