Even the greatest MLB general managers have missed the mark when it comes to trades and free agents. The Chicago Cubs have had a number of flops in this department forcing an already volatile fanbase into a state of perpetual distrust with the front office. Over the last 15 years, a number of acquired players seriously underperformed expectations and the following is a list of the most noteworthy.
In 2012 Theo Epstein and Co. traded DJ LeMahieu and Tyler Colvin to the Rockies in exchange for Ian Stewart and Casey Weathers. Stewert was expected to be the every day third baseman but simply could not perform or stay healthy. His one year with the Cubs yielded a .201 batting average with 5 Home runs and 17 RBI in just 55 games. To this day Epstein proclaims this trade to be a big mistake and overall a tough way to start his tenure on the North Side.
To be fair, every Japanese hitting prospect is labeled the next Hideki Matsui or Ichiro. This did not stop Cubs fans from getting way too excited about the international signing of Kosuke Fukudome in the 2008 offseason. In Japan he was consistently hitting between 25-35 home runs a year with around a .290 batting average. This was not the case in the United States. During his 4-year stint with the Cubs Fukudome batted a mere .262 with 37 home runs. As a now disgruntled owner of a gray Fukudome jersey I can attest that this one hurts quite a bit.
The mere mention of this man’s name makes even the most casual of Cub fans spit out their Old Style. Milton Bradley was signed in the 2009 offseason after leading the league in on-base percentage with Texas the year before. Needless to say, he did not even come close to continuing that streak with the Cubs. Bradley batted .251 and had an OBP of .378 which was far less than last year’s .321 and .436 respectively. As if his lackluster play wasn’t enough, he quickly lost favor with the fans for being an unrelenting jackass and all-around terrible person. Luckily this bust didn’t have a chance to stick around as he was quickly shipped to Seattle for pennies on the dollar.
The closer position has often been a question mark for the Chicago Cubs. In 2009 it appeared that Cubs may have found their guy in Kevin Gregg. His 2 previous years in Florida yielded 61 saves. This success, however, did not continue at Addison and Clark. Gregg went 23 for 30 in save opportunities with a stifling 4.51 ERA. In his 68.2 innings he surrendered 60 hits and 13 home runs. In true Cubs fashion they brought him back for another go in 2013 but this was during the Dale Sveum era which we are never allowed to talk about.
The very definition of a bust is tied with the inherently high expectations upon a player’s acquisition. I personally did not have these high expectations when the Cubs inked Edwin Jackson to a 4 year/$52 million dollar contract. Jackson was the consultation prize in the Anibal Sanchez sweepstakes (wow that’s sad when you type it out) and despite middling expectations Jackson found a way to underperform spectacularly. His 3 years on the North Side yielded a 16-34 record with a 5.37 ERA. Woof! But, credit where credit is due, Jackson is STILL in the majors proving that one lucky no-hitter can be milked into a 17 year 14 team career.