Machado has had a stellar offensive year at Iowa (Photo via I-Cubs)
Machado has had a stellar offensive year at Iowa (Photo via I-Cubs)

Cubs trade infielder to Giants for pitching depth


by - Senior Writer -

One day after the Giants nearly gave the game to the Cubs, San Francisco felt like they needed to address the shortstop position with Brandon Crawford out. Instead of making an MLB trade, the Giants went unorthodoxly by trading for AAA infielder Dixon Machado from the Iowa Cubs in exchange for P Raynel Espinal.

Machado is the one that benefits from this deal the most as he will be activated to the MLB roster to be given a chance while both Crawford (knee) and Thairo Estrada (Concussion) are on the IL. The 30-year-old Machado is no stranger to the Cubs organization, where he played for the Iowa Cubs in 2019 and 2022.

A career .253 hitter in the minors, Machado has seen the best years of his career while with the Iowa Cubs. Going back to 2019, Machado was not only the best defensive player on the team, but his .261 average had him on the verge of making the roster in September, only to have a hamstring injury put an end to that.

He followed that up with a year in Korea after the 2020 Minor League season was canceled and then returned to the Cubs this season. As part of Iowa, Machado was hitting .312, which was good for a top-five spot in the Pacific Coast League, while adding two homers and 31 RBIs. He added 46 walks to just 41 strikeouts as his OBP was north of 400 at .402, a top five number.

With minimal Major League experience where he is hitting just .227, Machado will finally get the chance he deserves with the Giants having a rash of injuries at the shortstop position. It would have been nice to see him get that time with the Cubs, but with Nico Hoerner having the season he is having and Christopher Morel breaking out, Machado was blocked from having an opportunity, so the Cubs helped both him and the Giants out.

In exchange for Machado, the Cubs are adding a pitcher as Raynel Espinal is coming to the Cubs organization. The former Boston Red Sox farmhand made his Major League debut in 2021, allowing two runs in two innings of work. Outside of that, he has been nothing, but a minor league journeyman who will make his home at Iowa for the time being.

Across his career, Espinal has been busy providing stability in various roles. Not only has he converted 17 career saves, but he has made 69 starts and appeared in 181 games. During that time, he has compiled a 40-33 record with a respectable 3.64 ERA. Another thing you notice is his impeccable command, as he has walked a total of 180 hitters compared to 628 strikeouts.

Espinal has struggled with the AAA Sacramento River Cats this season, but a big reason for that is the league they play in. Across 19 games (18 starts), Espinal has posted a 5-5 record with a 5.29 ERA. His 38BB/102K is not bad, but a bit higher than his career ratio, while his .268 opponents' batting average is nearly 40 points higher than his career mark.

It is unclear what role Espinal will play for the Cubs this season, but look for him to be in the rotation as guys like Caleb Killian could be promoted for a September call-up. This is not your typical wow move, but a move nonetheless, as the Cubs have plenty of deals in the works.

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