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The Ex-Cub Factor

One in an occasional series tracking the movements of former Cubs.

1. Kosuke Fukudome.

Fukudome never quite lived up to the hype of the 4-year, $48 million contract he signed with the Cubs as a free agent in December 2007. That was a lot of money back then, particularly for the Cubs. (That contract would be worth about $57 million in today's dollars.)

From Wikipedia:

After a fast start, Fukudome's 2008 MLB performance faded. After a .327 batting average in April, each successive month reflected less success as Fukudome batted .293 in May, .264 in June, .236 in July, .193 in August, and .178 in September, followed by .100 in the postseason. He ended the year with a .257 average, and a .370 slugging percentage. He hit .251 against righthanders, and .137 when there were 2 outs and runners in scoring position. Fukudome's slide was detailed in a New York Times article.

Nonetheless, on July 7, 2008, Fukudome was voted a starter in the 2008 MLB All-Star Game. Cubs manager Lou Piniella defended him from criticism, and said, "[Fukudome] does such a good job in right field we hate to take him out of the lineup," and further stated the team would continue to give him more opportunities.

After the Game 2 loss to the Dodgers in the NLDS, a reporter asked Piniella, enraged about the loss, about starting Fukudome. Piniella responded, "I'm going to play [Mike] Fontenot or Reed Johnson or somebody else, and that's the end of that story. The kid is struggling, and there's no sense sending him out there anymore." Fukudome managed only one single in 10 at-bats in the postseason.

In 2009, the Cubs switched Fukudome to centerfield, after acquiring rightfielder Milton Bradley. In July, Fukudome became the Cubs' leadoff hitter. He replaced Alfonso Soriano, who had been performing poorly in May and June. He had the lowest range factor of all starting major league center fielders (2.29).

Fukudome was a good defensive outfielder - in right field. He was also an on-base monster (.359 career), but nobody (especially the Cubs) really cared about that back then.

The Cubs eventually managed to trade Fukudome, to the Indians for outfield prospect Abner Abreu and pitching prospect Carlton Smith. Abreu played six minor league seasons to a .264/.307/.431 slash line. He never made it above Class A. Smith eventually made it to Triple-A Iowa, but washed out after eight seasons with six teams, compiling a 4.39 ERA and 1.33 WHIP.

After quickly washing out of Cleveland, Fukudome signed 1-year, $1 million deal with the White Sox. He was DFA'd after just 24 games in which he hit .171 in 41 at-bats.

He played in 43 games for the Yankees' Triple-A team, then returned to Japan in 2013.

And guess what? He's still playing there!

2. Adam Warren.

The Cubs acquired swingman Warren in December 2015 when they shipped Starlin Castro to the Yankees. The Yankees also sent the Cubs a player to be named later, who turned out to be journeyman infielder Brendan Ryan. The Cubs released Ryan a week later.

Warren never acclimated to Chicago, working to a 5.91 ERA over 29 games. He reportedly couldn't make the adjustment from Joe Girardi's traditional style of managing a bullpen where he "knew his assigned role" to Joe Maddon's more freestyle ways. The Cubs returned Warren to the Yankees in the 2016 midseason deal for Aroldis Chapman. Cubs prospects Gleyber Torres, Billy McKinney and Rashad Crawford went with him - and then the Yankees re-signed free agent Chapman after he helped the Cubs win the World Series.

Warren subsequently logged ERAs of 3.26, 2.35 and 2.70 in the next three seasons in New York, and then 3.74 for Seattle last season.

Last Friday, he signed a one-year deal with the Padres.

3. Dan Vogelbach.

Vogey is a familiar name in this feature as he's seesawed between the big club in Seattle, its top minor league affiliate, and the DL (now the IL).

"[H]e's yet to do is convince the Mariners that he merits regular playing time at the highest level," FanGraphs noted Sunday.

But: "He has little left to prove on the farm."

You know what we call a player like that? 4-A.

4. Isaac Paredes.

The Cubs signed the young shortstop out of Mexico in 2015 and shipped him to the Tigers two years later with Jeimer Candelario and cash for Justin Wilson and Alex Avila. Wilson had a 2.68 ERA in 42 games at the time and was equally tough on lefties and righties. We all know what happened once he got to Chicago - he folded.The Cubs didn't re-sign Avila after the season and now Wilson is gone too.

Meanwhile, Candelario slashed .330/.406/.468 once he got to Detroit, though last year he fell off to .224/.317/.393 mark.

And Paredes? He's the Tigers best hitting prospect - though his conditioning may leave something to desire.

5. Rich Hill.

Hill started his career with the Cubs in 2005 and put in four years on the North Side before moving on Baltimore, Boston, Cleveland, Anaheim, the Bronx, Oakland and Los Angeles.

He has a career 3.91 ERA.

Hill and his wife, Caitlin, just pledged $575,000 to the Massachusetts General Hospital for Children to help fund research on rare and undiagnosed genetic diseases.

6. Luke Farrell.

Farrell pitched to a lackluster 5.17 ERA/5.20 FIP and 11.2 K/9 against 4.6 BB/9 in 31 1/3 innings with the Cubs last year, after stops in Cincinnati and Kansas City. The Angels claimed him off waivers from the Cubs in September, and the Rangers claimed him off waivers from the Angels in January.

Last Saturday, the Giants' Jalen Miller claimed him off his bat with a line drive that smashed Farrell in the face. He likely needs surgery and could miss a few weeks or a couple months if he lands on the 60-day IL.


Comments welcome.

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