Making their third trade of the young offseason, the Marlins shipped closer Kevin Gregg to the Cubs for live-armed righthander Jose Ceda.
The Young Player
Ceda, who will be 22 next season, ranks as one of the better reliever prospects in the minors. He brings 95-97 mph heat and a power slider to bear on opposing batters, and they managed just a .220 average against him in 2008. The 6-foot-4, 275-pound Ceda went 4-3, 3.83 with 95 strikeouts, 42 walks and six home runs allowed in 84 2/3 innings as he worked his way from high Class A Daytona to Double-A Tennessee. He struck out 42 Southern League batters in 30 1/3 innings, as he worked exclusively out of the bullpen for the first time in his career. As evidenced by a composite 4.46 walks per nine innings on the year, Ceda’s command still is inconsistent. The Padres signed Ceda out of the Dominican Republic in 2004 and traded him to the Cubs, for Todd Walker, at the 2006 trading deadline.
Gregg racked up 61 saves in his two seasons as Marlins’ closer, but based on the 30-year-old’s five years of service time, his salary figured to increase from the $2.5 million he earned in 2008, pricing him out of Florida’s budget. He throws a 90-95 mph fastball and a mid-80s slider to go with a splitter he throws to lefthanded batters. His arrival paves the way for Kerry Wood’s departure in Chicago, with Carlos Marmol, Jeff Samardzija and Gregg handling late innings on the North Side. On the flip side, acquiring Ceda could pay dividends for the Marlins as soon as 2009. He could be an effective, low-cost bullpen arm for the thrifty Fish.