Cubs Trade Matt Szczur, Acquire RHP Justin Hancock From Padres

Days after being DFA’d, Matt Szczur has found a new home after the Cubs traded him today to San Diego. Coming back to the Cubs in return is Justin Hancock, a 26-year-old right-handed pitcher who has yet to make his MLB debut.

Scouting reports on Hancock are sparse, but former FanGraphs prospect lead Kiley McDaniel wrote about the new Cubs pitcher back in 2014.

Hancock gives scouts two looks, so takes on him vary based on what version scouts saw of him. At his best, Hancock sits 92-94 mph with an above average to plus changeup and an average breaking ball with enough command to project as a back-end starter. On other days, the off-speed and command is more fringy than average and he looks like a Burch Smith-type swing man or middle reliever.

Hancock started 22 games for the Padres’ AA affiliate in 2015, finishing with a 3.59 ERA, 6.88 K/9, and 3.66 BB/9, all reasonable numbers. Unfortunately, Hancock’s injury bug limited him to only 6 innings of action at AAA in 2016. Working his way back to consistent action this year, the righty has pitched out of the bullpen and sported a 6.23 ERA, 7.62 K/9, and 4.85 B/9 in AA.

What the Cubs are getting in return for Szczur is predictably unspectacular, but it’s better than nothing, which is exactly what they would’ve gotten had Szczur simply been released. He now has a real chance to accumulate significant plate appearances for the struggling Padres. As Anthony Rizzo said in an earlier interview, this may be the best thing for Szczur.

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