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Cubs acquire Wood, prospects for Marshall

Cubs acquire Wood, prospects for Marshall

Cubs acquire Wood, prospects for Marshall play video for Cubs acquire Wood, prospects for Marshall
The Cubs and Reds on Friday completed the trade that had been rumored all week, a swap of left-handed pitchers Sean Marshall and Travis Wood that doubled as a glimpse of where each team stands in the National League Central.

The win-now Reds get Marshall, one of baseball's most reliable relievers over the past two seasons, who is only 29 but is one season shy of reaching free agency.

The remodeling Cubs get Wood, a 24-year-old starter under club control for five more years, plus an outfielder who debuted in the Majors last season in Dave Sappelt and an intriguing second-base prospect in 19-year-old Ronald Torreyes.

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"I do believe this is the kind of move that tips our general direction," Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said. "We've talked the last couple of months about trying to build a foundation for sustained success, trying to keep the big picture in mind and not always just looking at the year directly in front of you, but at the next five years."

Wood hopes to spend those five years in a Cubs starting rotation that currently includes right-handers Matt Garza, Ryan Dempster, Randy Wells and Carlos Zambrano. Jeff Samardzija could be another option if the Cubs convert him from relief, and Epstein made clear he will continue to seek pitching for both the Major and Minor League levels, while at the same time listening to trade offers for Garza.

Wood slipped a bit in 2011 after making a splash as a rookie in 2010 with a 5-4 record and 3.51 ERA in 17 starts. He won his Major League debut at Wrigley Field on July 1, 2010 by limiting the Cubs to two hits over seven innings.

"I think the whole industry liked him," Epstein said. "He's a second-round pick, he was a top prospect moving through their system, had a great Spring Training in 2010 and almost made their team, pitched well in Triple-A and then took the baseball world by storm a little bit."

He mentioned July 11, 2010, when Wood, in his third big league start, took a perfect game into the ninth inning against Roy Halladay and the Phillies. Wood lost his no-hit bid, and Cincinnati wound up losing the game in extra innings, 1-0.

"He caught the eye of a lot of people," said Epstein, who was GM of the Red Sox then.

But Wood slipped to 6-6 with a 4.84 ERA in 22 games with the Reds last season, 18 of them starts, and was twice demoted to the Minor Leagues.

Of Wood's skill set, Epstein said, "He's a really attractive package. He's very athletic, his arm works very well, he's got more than enough velocity. He's a left-handed pitcher, but he's not afraid to throw his fastball, he's not afraid to pitch inside, he's not afraid to challenge hitters. He has an excellent cut-fastball.

"At times he's shown a plus breaking ball. At times he's shown a plus changeup. There are days you can seen him and he's got three or four above-average pitches, and those are the ingredients you need to be a successful starting pitcher."

Wood became more expendable this week after the Reds acquired starter Mat Latos from the Padres, giving Cincinnati a slew of starters, including Latos, Johnny Cueto, Bronson Arroyo, Mike Leake, Homer Bailey and fireballing left-hander Aroldis Chapman, whom the Reds have been planning to convert from relief.

He'll face less competition with the Cubs.

"I think it's a great opportunity," Wood said. "The Reds do have a lot of depth in their rotation. Hopefully, I can get to Chicago and make a difference. ... I'm very comfortable. I like Wrigley Field and everything."

If the Reds dealt from a position of strength then so did the Cubs, with their new braintrust led by Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer. The Cubs have some lefties who can step into the setup role in James Russell and Scott Maine, plus Minor Leaguers Jeff Beliveau and John Gaub.

Beliveau was named the Cubs' Minor League pitcher of the year after he held hitters to a .192 average in 53 appearances, and Gaub, acquired from the Indians in the 2008 Mark DeRosa deal, compiled a 3.42 ERA in 50 games at Triple-A Iowa.

"There's no doubt our 'pen got weaker," Epstein said. "We're going to need Russell and others to step up."

The Cubs also landed a pair of prospects in the deal.

Sappelt, 25 in January and a ninth-round Draft pick in 2008 out of Coastal Carolina, made a 38-game big league debut with the Reds in 2011. A right-handed batter, he is a .309 hitter in four Minor League seasons with a .362 on-base percentage and 31 home runs in 405 games.

Venezuelan-born Torreyes just turned 19 in September but already has parts of two seasons at Class A Dayton under his belt. In 67 games there last season, he batted .356 with a .398 on-base percentage, three home runs, 41 RBIs and 12 stolen bases. He's a 5-foot-9 right-handed hitter.

"He's a smaller-framed guy, to say the least," Epstein said. "Not the most physical guy in the world, but he's a baseball player, and he's really performed. ... He's not strong now like he's going to be, but he hits the ball hard. That combination of barreling the ball up and never swinging and missing has led to a high batting average, which is something we think is going to continue throughout his professional career."

Epstein pointed out that he's had some success with small second basemen. Boston's Dustin Pedroia, all 5-foot-9 of him, was the American League Rookie of the Year in 2007 and league MVP in 2008.

The Cubs will move on without Marshall, who posted a 2.45 ERA in 158 appearances over the past two seasons. Only Atlanta lefty Jonny Venters appeared in more games in that span.

"It came as a surprise," Marshall said of the trade. "But I understand the moves Theo and the crew are making. At first, it'll be a bit of an adjustment. I had my whole career here as a Cub. But I understand I've been lucky in that aspect. It's part of the game with trades and signing with different teams.

"I'm just looking forward to embracing the opportunity to go to the Reds and have a chance to really compete and win a division, and hopefully come home after the season with a World Series ring."

Marshall will earn $3.1 million in 2012, the second season of a two-year deal he signed with the Cubs in January to cover his final two years of arbitration.

"There's no doubt our bullpen just got weaker by losing Marshall -- you can't get around that," Epstein said. "But I think our starting rotation just got stronger, and our farm system just got stronger. If Wood bounces back and he pitches the way he did in 2010, you can argue that maybe we even got better [for] 2012. Certainly, the future just got a little bit brighter."

Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brew Beat, and follow him on Twitter at @AdamMcCalvy. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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