Cubs Get Heilman

The Deal
Continuing their rabid, roughly one-trade-per-week pace, the Cubs on Wednesday acquired righthander Aaron Heilman from the Mariners for 25-year-old lefthander Garrett Olson and 26-year-old shortstop Ronny Cedeno. Olson, if you’ll remember, joined Chicago little more than a week ago in the Felix Pie trade. Heilman also joins a second organization this offseason, having come to Seattle from the Mets in the 12-player, three-team blockbuster that shipped J.J. Putz to New York.

With this trade, Chicago now has been involved in each of the past four transactions covered in Trade Central—and counting the Jose Ceda-for-Kevin Gregg exchange from November, it’s the club’s fifth significant offseason trade. (If that doesn’t cement the Cubs place in the Trade Central Hall of Fame, then nothing will.) For trading Ceda, Mark DeRosa, Jason Marquis, Pie and now Cedeno and Olson, the Cubs have netted Gregg, Heilman and Luis Vizcaino for the bullpen and a host of low-ceiling or far-away pitching prospects in Chris Archer, John Gaub and Jeff Stevens (from the DeRosa trade) and Hank Williamson (from the Pie trade).

The Young Players
Despite a solid hitting record in Triple-A, Cedeno has scuffled when given playing time for Chicago, batting .252/.289/.350 in 977 plate appearances. Consistent playing time was afforded him in 2006, when as a 23-year-old, he batted just .245/.271/.339 in 534 at-bats. Cedeno has strong wrists and a line-drive stroke, though, so he is capable of hitting for average. But defensive acumen will always be his greatest value to a big league team. An average runner, Cedeno offers outstanding range and arm strength at either middle infield position, and in that regard, he’s a lot like Gold-Glove candidate outfielders Franklin Gutierrez and Endy Chavez, two of the Mariners’ other trade acquisitions this offseason.

For a look at Olson, check out “Cubs-Orioles Swap Youngsters.”

Quick Take
The Mets’ first-round pick in 2001, Heilman joins righthanders Grant Johnson and Jeff Samardzija as players with Notre Dame ties targeted by Cubs general manager Jim Hendry, a long-time friend of former Irish coach Paul Mainieri. The club used its top pick in 2004 (second-round) to select Johnson and spent lavishly on Samardzija, a 2006 fifth-rounder, buying him out of football for a five-year, $10 million big league deal.

Lefthanded batters owned Heilman, 30, in 2008, battering him for a line of .308/.425/.567 with eight home runs in 149 plate appearances. At his best, though, Heilman’s changeup is an equalizer against lefties, but tendinitis in his left knee hampered his ability to get extension on his pitches last season. For more on Heilman, see “Big Trade Lands Putz In N.Y.

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