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Trevor Megill Has A Path To Big League Bullpen



Before the November 40-man roster deadline, the Cubs tried to trade for 6-foot-8 righthander Trevor Megill, a 26-year-old reliever squeezed by the young talent the Padres have assembled during their long rebuilding process.

The Cubs made that kind of minor deal under similar circumstances in 2018, when they sent Triple-A third baseman Jason Vosler to the Padres for Rowan Wick, who quietly developed into one of Chicago's most trusted relievers this year and positioned himself to be a big part of the 2020 bullpen.

The Cubs executed another small trade with the Padres at the July 31 deadline, swapping Carl Edwards Jr. for Brad Wieck, a 6-foot-9 lefty who opened eyes by striking out 18 of the 38 big league hitters he faced in September.

The Cubs had to wait until the Winter Meetings, but they acquired Megill with the ninth pick in the major league Rule 5 draft. Megill reached Triple-A for the first time in 2019 and finished with 71 strikeouts and 19 walks in 50.1 innings for El Paso.

"We’ve had good reports on a big, physical righthanded reliever,” general manager Jed Hoyer said. "We’ve had some experience with him, and we were excited he was there.”

The Padres drafted Megill in the seventh round in 2015 out of Loyola Marymount. As they did with Wick and Wieck, the Cubs could offer Megill both a new opportunity and the pitching infrastructure to help him get to the next level.

The Cubs are at a transition point where their bullpen is no longer stacked with established veterans, and the entire organization appears to be focusing more on the future than 2020, meaning a Rule 5 pick should get a longer look than normal for a playoff contender.

"There’s times you can’t do it,” Hoyer said. "You don’t have room on the roster sometimes, and you can’t fit (a Rule 5 pick) in. But in the years that you do have that space on the roster, it’s a nice thing to be able to do.

"Obviously, there’s challenges that come with it, but Megill’s a guy we’re excited about. We’re excited to see him in spring training.”

CUBBYHOLE

— Ideally, the Cubs would already know what they have in righthander Adbert Alzolay, but that’s not usually how it works with pitching prospects. There’s some guessing and trial and error involved with Alzolay, who will turn 25 next year and has pitched just 109 innings over the last two seasons. He made his big league debut in 2019 and showed flashes of being an effective multiple-inning swingman—despite his 7.30 ERA skewed by one bad outing in four appearances.

"We have very high hopes for him,” Hoyer said. "The injuries have led to inconsistent work. As a result, I think it probably has taken a toll on the speed of his development. I thought he showed glimpses of what he could be last year. He also had moments that young pitchers often have where he made bad pitches and learned that you can’t do that in the big leagues. I have no doubt that he’s going to contribute to our team next year. In what role, I don’t know yet. But I think that roles are a little bit more fluid in baseball now, pitching-wise.”

— As part of a broader restructuring of the front office, the Cubs hired Jasmine Horan as an amateur scouting analyst. Horan, who graduated from Amherst College with a degree in mathematics and statistics, spent last season gaining exposure to multiple areas of baseball operations with the Yankees.

Patrick Mooney is a senior writer for The Athletic

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