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The Ex-Cub Factor

First of a new ongoing series tracking the movements of those who have worn Cubbie blue.

1. The 'Special' Skill Gleyber Torres Is Already Showing.

"After going hitless in his first game, Gleyber Torres has shown at least some of why the Yankees have been so high on the second baseman," Dan Martin writes for the New York Post.

"In Tuesday's 8-3 win over the Twins, Torres had a pair of singles for his first multi-hit game and added his first RBI."

The special skill is his makeup, though in another report it's his ability to adjust.

Comment: It's gonna hurt to watch Torres become a star, but no Cubs fan should regret trading him to the Yankees for the right to abuse Aroldis Chapman on the way to a World Series championship.

By the way, the Yankees also got Billy McKinney, Rashad Crawford and Adam Warren in the deal. Then they signed Chapman back as a free agent after the season. Well played, Brian Cashman.

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Bonus reporting from Ken Rosenthal at The Athletic:

"The 2016 non-waiver deadline was not the first time the New York Yankees wanted infielder Gleyber Torres.

"The Yankees identified Torres as their No. 1 target in the 2013-14 international class, but something went amiss after their international scouting director, Donny Rowland, called general manager Brian Cashman and former vice president of baseball operations Mark Newman from Venezuela and said, 'We've got to get this guy.'

"'The next day, literally the next day, he disappeared,' Rowland said. 'I couldn't find the dude.'

"Torres, it turns out, had reached a verbal agreement with the Chicago Cubs to sign for $1.7 million, then went underground, according to major league sources. Players in the international market typically stop attending tryout camps once they cut such deals with help from their agent/trainers, who are known as buscones. The signings become official on July 2."

2. Christian Villanueva Has Become Relevant.

"For most of his professional career, now in its 10th season, Christian Villanueva has been largely irrelevant," Travis Sawchik writes for Fangraphs.

"He appeared on Baseball America's top-100 list in 2012 - but as the last player on that list.

"He was the 'other guy' in the deal the that sent Kyle Hendricks - and Villanueva - from the Rangers to the Cubs for Ryan Dempster on July 31st, 2012."

To my memory, Villanueva was more highly thought of than that by the Cubs brass. He wasn't ever going to be Kris Bryant, but he looked like a guy with a solid glove who just needed to hit a little to have a major league career.

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"At the end of the 2016 season, with seemingly no place for him in the Cubs' infield or on their 40-man roster, Villanueva was granted free agency. He signed a minor-league deal 10 days later with the San Diego Padres.

"At that point in time, Villanueva wasn't particularly relevant in baseball circles. He wasn't particularly relevant last season, either, when he slashed .296/.369/.528 with 20 homers in Triple-A, a trying year personally after his brother died in the spring."

Um, that's not a bad slash line! Especially under the circumstances. Anyway . . .

"A player with whom few were acquainted a month ago now leads baseball in wRC+ (236) among hitters with 70 or more plate appearances and is eighth in WAR (1.4) as the season approaches May."

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Here's what Cliff Corcoran wrote for Sports Illustrated at the time of the Cubs-Rangers trade:

"As for the players the Rangers gave up in the deal, Hendricks isn't an elite prospect. The 22-year-old righty was an eighth-round pick out of Dartmouth in the 2011 draft and has pitched well at High-A this year, posting a 2.82 ERA in 20 starts and walking just one man per nine innings, producing an outstanding 7.47 K/BB ratio, but he's a soft-throwing command and control pitcher, the sort of college arm that tends to find its limit in the high minors where location and deception aren't enough to get out high-level hitters. Villanueva, signed out of Mexico in 2010, is the key player in the deal."

3. White Sox's Chris Volstad Allows One Run In Short Start Tuesday.

"Volstad (0-1) was stuck with the loss Tuesday against the Mariners. He allowed one run on three hits while striking out three over 4.1 innings," CBS's RotoWire reports.

"Volstad was thrust into a starting role Tuesday after making his first four appearances in relief this season, including a three-inning outing just three days ago. The 31-year-old was generally effective in Tuesday's loss but was lifted from the contest after throwing 66 pitches. He could be called upon for another start Sunday against the Royals."

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Volstad was a Cub in 2012, starting 21 games, pitching 111 1/3 innings, and going 3-12 with a 6.31 ERA. The Cubs acquired him in a trade with the Marlins - who got Carlos Zambrano in return. That was Zambrano's last year in the major leagues; he went 7-10 with a 4.49 ERA for the Fish.

4. Rockies Place Chris Rusin On 10-Day DL.

He's got an intercostal strain.

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Rusin was a fourth-round pick of the Cubs (140 overall) in the 2009 draft. He debuted with the Cubs in August 2012, then started 13 games for the club in 2013. He only pitched 12 2/3 innings in the bigs for the Cubs in 2014 before he was waived.

5. Royals' Justin Grimm Lands On The DL.

Lower back tightness.

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I think we all remember Grimm's Cubs career, so I won't recount it here. But a reminder of how he got to Chicago: He was traded here in July 2013 by the Rangers along C.J. Edwards, Neil Ramirez, and Mike Olt, in exchange for Matt Garza.

Note: Olt was once a highly rated third-base prospect in the Rangers' system who helped make Christian Villanueva expendable to the Cubs.

6. Jorge Soler Could Be Part Of The Royals' Future.

"[F]or three weeks [he] has been the combination of power and plate discipline the Royals have hoped for," Sam Mellinger writes for the Kansas City Star.

Then again . . .

"The Royals were at a crossroads in the winter of 2016, with two paths ahead of them," Max Rieper writes at Royals Review.

"Either push all their chips in and try their hardest to win a championship in 2017, or being the rebuild process by tearing it all down. They picked a third option - try to do both."

That meant trading Wade Davis to the Cubs for Soler.

"Complicating matters was a forearm injury suffered by Davis in 2016 that may have given some teams pause. But by trading him for a young major leaguer, the Royals may have hurt the rebuild and hurt their chances of competing at the same time.

"Soler could still make this trade pan out, but it seemed puzzling at the time."

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