Cubs Unload Barrett For Two Players

The Deal
The Cubs traded starting catcher Michael Barrett and cash to the Padres for backup catcher Rob Bowen and outfield prospect Kyler Burke.
The Big Leaguers
Barrett enjoyed his three finest years with the Cubs, but was traded during his fourth, in the midst of a season-long slump. The 30-year-old backstop, whom the Expos drafted 28th overall in 1995, had become something of a magnet for controversy the past two seasons: first by slugging White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski in a home-plate confrontation in 2006, and then by fighting on- and off-camera with teammate Carlos Zambrano in June. Though Barrett’s throwing accuracy has decreased in recent years–he has nabbed just seven of 39 basestealers (18 percent) this season–and he’s hitting just .256/.307/.427, he remains a viable starting catcher if he can rediscover his stroke.

Though Bowen struggled to gun down basestealers with San Diego, he is a mobile receiver with a strong throwing arm. His low caught-stealing percentage with the Padres (12 percent) was largely attributable to his pitchers’ struggles to hold runners. Selected in the second round of the 1999 draft by the Twins, the switch-hitting Bowen spent seven seasons in the minors, earning just two cups of coffee with Minnesota, before getting a share of the Padres’ catching job in 2006. He has hit .268/.371/.439 this season as Josh Bard’s backup.

The Prospect
Burke, the Padres’ supplemental first-round pick in 2006, has struggled to get it going as a pro. A natural athlete who also played linebacker in high school, Burke has a clean lefthanded swing and an advanced approach for a 19-year-old hitter, but he has struggled to adjust to an increased diet of offspeed stuff. With average speed and range, Burke profiles as a strong-armed right fielder who has the potential to hit and hit for power.
Quick Take
If Barrett hits like he has in the past, San Diego adds a valuable player in a very tight NL West race, all without sacrificing a 2006 regular or a top prospect. And if Barrett doesn’t come around, the Padres can reap the first-round draft pick he’s sure to command if he leaves as a Type A free agent.