The Colorado Rockies have come to an agreement to trade right handed pitcher Eddie Butler to the Chicago Cubs in exchange for right handed minor leaguer James Farris. The teams will also be swapping international bonus slots for the 2016-17 signing period: the Rockies will acquire slot No. 28 in exchange for slot No. 74, increasing their overall pool by $211,800.
Once considered one of the top prospects in the Rockies’ system, Eddie Butler was designated for assignment over the weekend. He was at one time rated as highly as No. 24 overall prospect by Baseball America. In 4862⁄3 minor league innings he compiled a 3.33 ERA with 339 strikeouts and 153 walks. However, he was unable to make good on that promise in the big leagues, putting up a 6.50 ERA in 1591⁄3 innings over three seasons. In a last ditch effort the Rockies tried him in the bullpen at the end of last season where he had an unsightly 8.00 ERA in 18 innings pitched with 17 strikeouts and six walks.
Farris, 24, was drafted out of the University of Arizona, where he was a starting pitcher, in the ninth round of the 2014 MLB amateur draft by the Chicago Cubs. Working primarily as a reliever, he has moved slowly and steadily up the organizational ladder. He finished last year in Double-A, where against age-appropriate competition he had a 2.75 ERA with a 1.028 WHIP, 9.5 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9 in 36 innings pitched in relief. Overall he has a 3.34 ERA, a 1.145 WHIP, and 10.7 K/9 across three seasons. That performance earned him a spot in the Arizona Fall League, where he was a Fall Star for the Mesa Solar Sox after allowing five hits, two walks, and 12 strikeouts in ten innings pitched.
Farris could start the year playing for the Hartford Yard Goats or the Rockies could bump him straight up to Triple-A Albuquerque. If that’s the case, look for the team to bring him up to the big league club if the bullpen needs reinforcing in the second half of the season. You can find even more information on Farris from the Cubs Insider blog.
Another important factor here is that international bonus pool money (see here for a primer from Baseball America). The Rockies have built one of the most well-regarded farm systems in baseball by drafting and developing well, which is why it was so hard for many in the industry to believe that they would give up the No. 11 pick in this year’s draft for Ian Desmond. However, they have also built a lot of success from their international scouting department, including top PuRPs Raimel Tapia (No. 4 PuRP), Antonio Senzatela (No. 10), Pedro Gonzalez (No. 16), Daniel Montano (No. 21), and more. By increasing their bonus pool allotment by nearly a quarter-of-a-million dollars, they will have just that much more resources to sign some of the top international free agents come July 2.
The Rockies have traded a failed top prospect who could profit from a change of scenery for a potential setup man and more resources to work in international free agency. It’s hard to see this as anything but a win for general manager Jeff Bridich and company. Besides, we’ll always have that change up.