Szczur is out of Minor League options. Knowing the Cubs had a crowded outfield situation, the Padres began engaging in trade talks during Spring Training. A month and a half later, the two clubs finally worked out a deal.
"He's athletic, a good defender," said Padres general manager A.J. Preller. "He's really a guy that just needed an opportunity. So from our standpoint, some of the injuries we've had in the outfield, we felt over the last couple days that he was a good fit for us."
To clear room on the 40-man roster, the Padres placed lefty reliever Buddy Baumann on the 60-day disabled list. They'll need to clear space for Szczur on the 25-man roster when he reports to the Padres -- potentially before Tuesday's game against Texas.
With injuries to Alex Dickerson (bulging disk in his back) and Travis Jankowski (bone bruise in his right foot), the Padres have had scrambled to fill their outfield spots. Rookies Manuel Margot and Hunter Renfroe have each started every game but one. And career infielder Cory Spangenberg has transitioned to the outfield, where he is serving as the club's primary left fielder.
"There's an opportunity created with some of the injuries we've had here," Preller said. "But in Spring Training he was already a guy that we targeted as an extra piece, an extra outfield guy that fit."
Szczur, a right-handed hitter, offers some much-needed outfield depth. He's expected to see time at all three outfield spots, and his presence will allow the Padres to ease the burden on their young outfielders.
Preller noted the importance of adding a player who was part of the foundation of a championship team. Szczur came highly recommended by veteran left-hander Clayton Richard, his teammate in Chicago the past two seasons. He also drew the praise of Cubs manager Joe Maddon, who called Szczur, "Everything you want in a teammate."
"He's coming from the team that won the World Series last year," Preller said. "He's part of a group that has played some big games, played in some big spots. He's also been part of a build. He was drafted in the 2010 season, saw some lean years, then rode it through to be a part of a championship club."
Preller and Co. wouldn't mind similar results in San Diego.
As for Hancock, he had allowed nine earned runs over 13 innings for Double-A San Antonio this season.
"Hancock's a guy that's thrown really well this year in terms of velocity, and [he has] a big arm," Preller said. "No surprises with these kinds of deals. They're taking a flier on a guy with a big arm."