(CBS Chicago) — The trade deadline has come and gone, and 10 All-Stars now find themselves playing in new stadiums. Some teams, like the Los Angeles Dodgers, stocked up for the stretch run through August and September. Other teams, like the Washington Nationals, unloaded productive players (and big salaries) in favor of what they hope will be success in future seasons. Now we get to see how all the moves shake out. For the teams that picked up three former Chicago Cubs, the results are already promising.
This week’s Baseball Report looks at the three former Cubs who each hit a home run in their respective debuts, along with the New York Mets’ failure to sign their 2021 first-round pick, and the denial of Curt Schilling’s request to be removed from the 2022 Hall of Fame ballot.
Three Former Cubs Homer
The Cubs were active at the trade deadline, though not in a way that signals optimism for their prospects this season. They were 50-54 going into Friday and 11.5 games behind the National League Central-leading Milwaukee Brewers. The Cubs had just dropped three of four to the Cincinnati Reds, one of the three teams above them in the standings. By the deadline, many of their key players were gone, including the core trio that helped them win the 2016 World Series.
First baseman Anthony Rizzo was traded tp the New York Yankees. Shortstop Javier Báez is in the same city with the Mets. Slugger Kris Bryant now plays for the San Francisco Giants. Two additional trades sent relievers Ryan Tepera and Craig Kimbrel across town to the White Sox. The Cubs received five prospects from the various trades.
While the Cubs lost two of three to the Washington Nationals over the weekend, the three departed players each found some early success on their new contending teams. Rizzo, Báez, and Bryant all hit home runs in their debut.
Rizzo is batting fourth for the Yankees, who currently trail the Rays by seven games in the American League East but remain in the hunt for a wild card spot. In his Friday debut against the Miami Marlins, he walked in his first plate appearance. The next time at the plate, Rizzo blasted a 449-foot home run into the upper deck. He followed that up Saturday with another home run. The new Yankee is 5-9 with three RBI in his first three games for the team.
Báez wasted no time in helping the Mets. The ex-Cubs shortstop debuted for the team Saturday at home against the Reds. Batting fourth as well, he grounded out in his first at-bat in the second inning. But in the sixth inning, with a runner on first, Báez put a 1-2 pitch in the left field stands for his 23rd home run of the season. It would be his only hit of the game, but the blast pulled his new team to within a run in a game they would eventually win, 5-4. He went 0-4 in Sunday’s game.
Bryant started his first game for the Giants on Sunday. He hit a two-out solo shot in the third inning to become the third recently departed Cub to homer in his debut for their new team in as many days. Bryant deposited an 0-1 pitch in the left field stands for his 19th home run of the season. It was his only hit in the Giants’ 5-3 win over the Houston Astros.
The three home runs from Rizzo, Báez, and Bryant was the first time in MLB history that three players began a season with one team, only to hit a home run in their debut with another team.
Mets Fail To Sign Rocker
The Mets selected Vanderbilt pitcher Kumar Rocker with the 10th pick in MLB’s 2021 amateur draft. However, unlike the other players selected in the first round, he will not play in the farm system of the team that selected him. An examination of his elbow raised some concerns for the Mets; issues with velocity over the collegiate season could have also been a red flag. The team tried to negotiate a better deal than the original $6 million offer, but Sunday’s deadline came and went without an agreement.
The team will receive the eleventh pick in the 2022 draft as compensation. Rocker is allowed to return to Vanderbilt for his senior season, though that doesn’t seem like an option he’ll take. The young pitcher could instead opt to play independent or international baseball, or no baseball at all. His choice will affect next year’s draft.
Curt Schilling To Remain On 2022 Hall of Fame Ballot
Many players play their whole career hoping to one day be selected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. It’s rare that a player asks for his name to be removed from the ballot. But that’s what Curt Schilling did. Earlier this year, Schilling, along with Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds, fell short of the 75 percent of votes needed to be included in the 2021 class. (The 2021 class has no members.) The controversial pitcher was 16 votes short of the number needed, coming the closest of the three. Rather than be included on the 2022 ballot for the 10th and final time, Schilling requested his name be removed.
Late last week, the Hall of Fame denied his request. “The Board of Directors also reviewed Curt Schilling’s request to be removed from the 2022 Baseball Writers’ Association of America Hall of Fame ballot,” according to the statement. “In a unanimous decision, the request was denied. Schilling will remain eligible for the BBWAA ballot for the 10th-and-final time in 2022.”
To be clear, Schilling isn’t saying he doesn’t want to be in the Hall of Fame. He seems to be saying that he wants to be selected by the veterans committee, rather than the writers. Whether he gets his wish remains to be seen.