The Cubs have pushed into first place in the NL Central after the All-Star break but haven't stopped pushing for major league additions to the roster. Sunday night they augmented two trouble spots in middle relief and catcher, adding lefthander Justin Wilson and catcher/first baseman Alex Avila from Detroit in exchange for shortstop Isaac Paredes and third baseman Jeimer Candelario. While Candelario is much closer to the major leagues, the Triple-A Iowa corner infielder ranked No. 9 on BA's Midseason Cubs Top 10, while Paredes ranked No. 5. The Tigers will also receive a player to be named or cash.
In Wilson, 29, the Cubs add a durable, experienced big league lefty for their pen who doesn't become a free agent until after the 2018 season. The 30-year-old Avila, whose father Al traded him as Detroit's GM, is in the midst of his best season since he was an all-star in 2011.
Jeimer Candelario, 3b
Candelario finally gets freed from being blocked by Kris Bryant, though the Tigers have Nicholas Castellanos at third, a solid if unspectacular option. Candelario can play first base as well and has been named the Cubs' best defensive infielder by club officials in BA's Prospect Handbook on multiple occasions, even though he grades as a solid-average to above-average defender rather than a true plus.
Candelario has ranked among the Cubs' Top 10 prospects four different times thanks to his ability to control the strike zone, pepper the gaps with line drives and show solid-average power from both sides of the plate. He's pressed in big league duty (.136, 17 Ks in 44 ABs) but is an experienced player who also is just 23. His career .270/.352/.430 slash line in the minors would be a solid line for a big league regular at third base and is a realistic expectation for Candelario.
|Isaac Paredes, ss
Paredes, just 18, was having a breakout year in the low Class A Midwest League, ranking fifth in the league in doubles (25) while also ranking in the top five for being tough to strike out (one per every 7.11 play appearances). He's stronger than his listed 5-foot-11, 175-pound frame would indicate, and Cubs officials have compared him to Jhonny Peralta as a squat-bodied shortstop with an offensive-first profile. Another scout told the Chicago Tribune's Mark Gonzales that he compared Paredes to Mike Aviles, citing again his aggressiveness and power potential.
Paredes is just an average runner at best but has present strength and a fundamentally sound swing. His hands and feet both work well; he's able to manipulate the barrel at the plate, handles ground balls surehandedly in the field and has the footwork to stay in the dirt. His above-average arm also makes third base a future possibility if needed.
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Alex Avila, c
|Justin Wilson, lhp
Wilson was the ace of Fresno State's improbable 2008 College World Series squad and has had the best pro career of any Bulldogs alumnus, with a 3.20 career ERA since his 2012 debut with the Pirates. He's also played for the Yankees and Tigers and consistently gets righthanded hitters out more consistently than lefthanders; his career OPS against for righthanded hitters is .606, compared to .658 for lefthanded batters.
He has a power repertoire with a four-seam fastball that averages close to 97 mph according to brooksbaseball.net, coupled with a low-90s cutter and hard, mid-80s slider. He also still shows the occasional curveball. Wilson pitches inside effectively and usually keeps the ball in the ballpark, having given up five homers this season in 40 innings, the highest rate of his career. Previously he'd allowed just 17 home runs in 258 innings.