Kyle Hendricks joined the Chicago Cubs in a franchise-altering commerce 10 years in the past. Here’s a glance again at the way it went down.


Sometimes Kyle Hendricks wonders if his profession would have turned out in a different way.

What would have occurred had he by no means donned the Chicago Cubs pinstripes?

“It could have never worked out, obviously,” Hendricks advised the Tribune. “Sometimes you see it with guys that get stuck or sometimes you just don’t get the opportunity depending on where a team is at in their process. And then your career life span could basically be over by then and your time is kind of up. I was super lucky.”

Ten years in the past, on July 31, 2012, the Cubs made an unknowingly seismic commerce, sending beginning pitcher Ryan Dempster to the Texas Rangers for 2 minor-leaguers: infielder Christian Villanueva and right-hander Kyle Hendricks.

Hendricks by no means has requested Theo Epstein or Jed Hoyer what made them wish to embody him within the commerce. Even now, he’s unsure he desires to know the reply, saying with fun, “Maybe I was a throw in. … I don’t want to hear that.”

But the affect of that commerce is plain. Hendricks grew to become top-of-the-line pitchers in baseball and helped the Cubs lastly deliver a championship again to North Side. And it nearly didn’t occur if Dempster would have had his approach a decade in the past.

“The Cubs never would have won a World Series had I not gotten traded — you can quote that,” Dempster joked to the Tribune not too long ago. “So you’re welcome, Chicago.”

The anatomy of a commerce

Dempster’s cellphone was blowing up.

Entering the 2012 season, Dempster understood what awaited him on the commerce deadline. The rebuilding Cubs wanted younger property. He was on an expiring contract and at 35 didn’t slot in to their long-term plans. Dempster’s 10-and-5 rights gave him management of the place he may very well be traded, nonetheless.

In the lead-up to news of a commerce with the Atlanta Braves eight days earlier than the deadline, Epstein, then the president of baseball operations, knowledgeable Dempster the Braves have been very . Epstein requested the veteran to weigh and course of a possible commerce as a result of the Braves weren’t going to attend eternally for a solution.

But Dempster had a clear-cut No. 1 selection: the Los Angeles Dodgers. It was near his house in Arizona, and former teammate Ted Lilly was recruiting Dempster to hitch him in LA. Dempster held agency along with his desire regardless of the Cubs receiving a suggestion they favored from the Braves.

Eventually, although, the Cubs wanted to decide and couldn’t go away the Braves in limbo. They quietly consummated the deal, and the Cubs reached out to Dempster, telling him he didn’t must resolve immediately and to maintain fascinated by it. An hour later, the commerce leaked.

Dempster had been {golfing} since 6 a.m. that day, prompting a nap when he returned house. He awoke to 30 messages on his cellphone, and news of him being traded to the Braves already was on-line.

Said Epstein in 2012 after the deadline: “And with the nature of technology and social media these days, these things spread quickly like wildfire. Ryan never got the opportunity for more than I’d say an hour to fully contemplate Atlanta with a deal actually in place. I feel for him. Because all of a sudden instead of having time to contemplate it privately, he had everyone telling him what to do, everyone asking him questions about it and it became a nuisance for him.”

Said Dempster not too long ago: “I just felt forced into it. There was this immense pressure and I still had personal family things that I was going through to try to figure it out. And it just felt like it wasn’t the best fit for me.”

The take care of the Braves, which reportedly would have netted the Cubs 22-year-old right-hander Randall Delgado by no means went by. (Delgado posted a 4.10 ERA in 271 big-league video games for the Braves and Arizona Diamondbacks from 2011-18 and at the moment is pitching in an impartial league.)

The Cubs regrouped and reassessed their choices. On deadline day, Dempster nonetheless didn’t wish to surrender on Los Angeles, so he advised Epstein he would name Dodgers GM Ned Colletti to attempt to work one thing out.

Said Dempster: “Ned said, ‘I’m not willing to give up the package they want, you’re going to be a free agent.’ And I was like, ‘I’ll sign an extension.’ And he’s like, ‘What? Why didn’t I know this a few days ago?’ Well you’re knowing it now! So that never ended up happening. The minute that door closes, I said, all right, open it up.”

Epstein and Hoyer needed Dempster close by as they labored to finish a commerce because the hours and minutes ticked down. And that meant a singular setup by placing him down the corridor in an workplace with a TV on which hypothesis about his vacation spot was being mentioned in actual time.

At one level, Epstein and Hoyer stopped by to ask about whether or not he’d settle for a commerce to the St. Louis Cardinals. Dempster responded with a sarcastic, “Yeah, right.”

Said Dempster: “Not that I wouldn’t go play in St. Louis. I love St. Louis, but I can’t accept a trade from the Cubs to the Cardinals. That’s just not happening. I can go there as a free agent, I’d be happy to. But a trade’s not going to work.”

When the Texas Rangers emerged as a attainable vacation spot, reuniting with catcher Geovany Soto and the crew that drafted him was interesting. The Cubs agreed to a take care of the Rangers about three minutes earlier than the deadline. Hoyer said afterward {that a} commerce with the Dodgers by no means actually was shut after many conversations, although he joked he in all probability had Colletti’s cellphone quantity memorized.

Said Hoyer in 2012: “We talked a lot about keeping him, but ultimately he’s a free agent and we felt like the right thing to do was to keep adding talent to the farm system. We said a number of times that we don’t have enough depth in the system and good young players. Now we have a chance to add two guys we like a lot. We took that chance.”

Said Epstein in 2012: “Do we wish that he would have had 12 places that were an ideal destination for him instead of one? Sure. That Atlanta deal we had lined up I felt was an outstanding deal for the organization. Would we have liked to execute it? Absolutely.”

If the Rangers hadn’t come by ultimately, Hoyer acknowledged Dempster in all probability wouldn’t have been traded. And thus, no Hendricks.

Said Hoyer in 2012: “You have to scout well to make sure you’re always prepared for anything that will happen, and we felt the pro scouts did a great job. We had a lot of reports, we had guys in the right places, we had information on the right people. I think that is the most important thing. You never know what twists and turns will happen. You can’t prepare as if things happen according to a script. They never do.”

An under-the-radar prospect

Cubs director of beginner scouting Tim Wilken was on his approach to scout the Cape Cod Baseball League in mid-June 2012 when he obtained a name from Epstein.

Epstein had a particular project for Wilken: Check out the Rangers’ Myrtle Beach, S.C., affiliate for Hendricks’ subsequent begin and file a report on the 22-year-old.

“If it were left up to me, shame on me because I had just an OK report,” Wilken mentioned. “I didn’t have an overwhelming ‘acquire him.’ I would have taken him in a deal, but I probably didn’t give him enough credit, control-wise and command. I still had plus (scouting grades) on him, but I think I was a little shy on that.”

Wilken remembers evaluating Hendricks to former Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Andy Sonnanstine due to their related construct and the way in which they pitched with a fringe-to-average fastball. But Sonnanstine didn’t have breaking ball and fell off rapidly with the Rays, ending a five-year big-league profession (2007-11) with a 5.26 ERA and 82 ERA+ in 132 video games (80 begins).

“I probably had that in my memory bank,” Wilken mentioned, “and I was probably not giving Kyle enough credit for his feel for pitching and his control and command of what he did have. It wasn’t wowing stuff other than he threw a lot of strikes and the quality got better. Finesse guys are the tougher ones to see if they’re not 100% on their game. They’re a little bit tougher than the big arms.”

Wilken additionally was involved about Hendricks’ “ordinary” curveball and the way it won’t be a ample secondary pitch. The changeup Hendricks threw on the time notably wasn’t the identical because the one he makes use of within the majors.

Hendricks wasn’t the highest participant the Cubs obtained within the commerce. That honor went to Villanueva, rated Baseball America’s No. 100 prospect and No. 12 within the Rangers farm system coming into the 2012 season.

As for Hendricks, good luck discovering him on any top-prospect lists. He didn’t make the highest 30 within the Rangers group by Baseball America earlier than the commerce. Hendricks’ most notable prospect inclusion earlier than coming to the Cubs was being rated No. 20 for the Northwest League in 2011.

Said J.J. Cooper of Baseball America: “Here was this pitcher who seemed to have some feel and OK stuff that when you talk about players who are traded, I can look at it one of two ways. One, brilliant, just brilliant, that the Cubs saw something far and beyond. Or the other is that you take a lot of pitchers like that and every now and then one rises to the top. I don’t have an easy answer to that because the thing that stands out about Kyle Hendricks is in this era his success has been done in such a nontypical manner, which I default to give him credit in situations like that.”

Even after the commerce, Hendricks didn’t crack the Cubs’ top-30 checklist till 2014, the 12 months he debuted. Meanwhile, Villanueva slotted in because the crew’s No.12 prospect and the business consensus as the higher participant acquired within the deal.

Hendricks’ skilled profession truly started as a reliever. After the Rangers drafted him within the eighth spherical in 2011, he debuted at short-season Spokane. All 20 appearances have been out of the bullpen, largely consisting of one- or two-inning outings with 36 strikeouts in 32⅔ innings.

“I think the Cubs were really perceptive because they saw something here,” Cooper mentioned. “At the time if you told me, ‘Hey, there’s this pitcher. He doesn’t throw all that particularly hard. He’s never in his career been a strikeout-a-batter-an-inning pitcher after that first season in the Northwest League as a reliever. He’ll never do that again, ever. And oh, by the way, he’s going to be a really good big-league starter.’ I probably wouldn’t have believed it.”

On July 31, 2012, Hendricks had simply arrived in Zebulon, N.C., recent off a four-hour bus trip along with his High-A Myrtle Beach teammates, then a Rangers affiliate, to kick off a visit towards the Carolina Mudcats.

After dropping off their stuff on the resort, the crew headed to the ballpark. Hendricks knew it was trade-deadline day within the majors, however past that the date wasn’t on his radar. As Myrtle Beach ready to go onto the sphere to stretch, the clubhouse TVs have been tuned in to a breaking-news commerce involving the Rangers.

“The TV didn’t show the names,” Hendricks mentioned. “And then out of the manager’s office, he and a couple other guys say to me and Villanueva, ‘Hey, you two, come on in here.’ As soon as they said our names, everyone else in the clubhouse went, ‘Oh, boy, they’re gone.’”

When they entered, Rangers GM Jon Daniels was on the cellphone to tell Hendricks and Villanueva of the commerce and laid out the state of affairs. Oneri Fleita, then the Cubs vice chairman of participant personnel, advised each gamers they might report back to High-A Daytona. Because Hendricks already had thrown 130⅔ innings for Myrtle Beach, the Cubs needed to restrict him to roughly 20 innings over the ultimate month.

“It was kind of a weird time because it was this huge change,” Hendricks mentioned. “ Between me and Villanueva, we had to basically get a ride to Daytona.”

The Cubs needed their new acquisitions to report back to Daytona as quickly as attainable. Fortunately, Hendricks’ girlfriend (and now-wife), Emma, had a automotive and drove from Myrtle Beach to North Carolina, picked them up and made the eight-hour drive to Florida. The 24-hour sequence was a whirlwind.

It left no time for Hendricks to contemplate the aftermath of a commerce.

“I was young, I had no clue,” he mentioned. “Looking back, I wasn’t aware of the ins and outs of where a team is at in their progression. Texas, they were in win-now mode and getting to the World Series. Luckily, things just happen to work out sometimes. And I think luck is such a huge part of your path and where you end up, and that was definitely a lucky moment.”

A profession begins to take off

Hendricks’ introduction to the Cubs spanned 17 innings over 5 appearances (4 begins) with Daytona to shut out the 2012 season. He didn’t carry a chip on his shoulder from being traded like some gamers would possibly.

“I’ve always had that little underdog (mentality),” Hendricks mentioned. “Not that I’ve never gotten respect or anything, but that’s usuallyhow it goes. I really didn’t think of it as revenge or anything. I just was so happy to be playing professional baseball and to maybe see a path for myself. I was like, ‘Just keep getting outs, they traded for you.’ And so I was grateful that someone traded for me. I thought they must have liked something about me even if I wasn’t the big piece of the deal.”

The 2012 season marked Epstein’s first on the helm, and it rapidly grew to become clear to Hendricks a few of the stark variations between his outdated and new organizations. While he would see a shift over the following 12 months or so, from the buy-in from minor-league coaches and the workers he would work with as he rose by the ranks, Hendricks nonetheless wanted to make some non-baseball-related changes.

“The Texas organization did an unbelievable job of teaching me how to be a professional, how to be accountable at a young age,” he mentioned. “I came over to the Cubs organization and you just saw there was this huge shift coming in the culture, really — there wasn’t any of that, which was super eye-opening. I came over and I was like, ‘What’s going on?’ ”

Hendricks opened 2013 at Double-A Tennessee. A stellar July capped a powerful four-month stretch that produced a 1.85 ERA in 21 begins and earned him a promotion to Triple-A Iowa. He posted a 2.48 ERA in six begins there to shut out his first full season within the Cubs group.

Cubs major-league workers assistant Jonathan Mota, Hendricks’ teammate at Double A and Triple A in 2013 and 2014, remembers Hendricks’ early days within the group.

“I remember his third Double-A start in Huntsville, Ala., and it was really cold,” Mota mentioned. “He only threw two innings, and Buddy Bailey, our manager, was very successful, very straightforward. And he comes to the mound and says to Kyle, ‘Hey, kid, if you want to pitch in the big leagues, you’re going to have to hit your spot because you can’t just be doing this.’ I remember Kyle saying, ‘I will pitch in the big leagues, Buddy,’ and then he walked away.”

Said Hendricks: “I didn’t even notice that I wasn’t getting the top prospect stuff or anything. I knew I was doing well. I knew I was getting outs and I was pitching well, and I knew when people came into town, I was still pitching well, and I knew they were seeing that. And everybody around me was saying, ‘Hey, if you just keep getting outs, man, there’s nothing you can do or they can do.’ I think it really helped develop my mental state going forward, and it helps me a lot today with what I do, just trying to simplify, stay on the task at hand and control what you can control.”

Said Mota: “I played first base a couple times in 2013. I remember guys would get a hit or rarely he’ll walk somebody and they will get to first base and they’re like, ‘How does he do it? We can’t figure it out.’ I’d tell them, ‘Hey, you’re not the only one who’s saying that.’ It was special playing behind him in the minor leagues, seeing him grow and come in to his own.”

Orioles supervisor Brandon Hyde labored because the Cubs minor-league area coordinator when Hendricks joined the group. Hyde first noticed him with Daytona in August 2012 earlier than getting one other have a look at Hendricks at Triple A the following season. Hyde recalled questioning whether or not his stuff would work as a major-league starter.

As the bench coach for then-manager Rick Renteria, Hyde witnessed Hendricks’ MLB debut July 10, 2014, one of many first hints as to what was to come back.

“You just thought that, man, we could be pretty good in a couple years,” Hyde mentioned. “I didn’t know we were going to be in ’15. But you could see that we were way more fun to watch and more exciting, and Kyle was a big part of that.”

Said Wilken: “It’s not a shocker in a sense because he had main ingredients going into it, like control, command, feel and upcoming improved body control, which is a big key for me because that helps pitchers repeat their delivery more often.”

Hendricks’ bounce to the Cubs won’t have occurred with out Iowa pitching coach Bruce Walton, whom Hendricks described as being instrumental to components of his improvement. Walton taught Hendricks methods to learn hitters’ swings, one thing he realized from working with Hall of Fame pitcher Roy Halladay in Toronto because the Blue Jays bullpen coach. It took a 12 months or two into Hendricks’ major-league profession for studying swings to totally click on, which he traces again to Walton.

One large piece in Hendricks’ repertoire that wanted to be labored out to efficiently make the bounce from Triple A to the Cubs concerned refining his changeup.

“When I started throwing my protonated changeup more,” Hendricks mentioned, “I really just had kind of a straight, almost to the cut changeup. (Walton) showed me (how to) throw a two-seam grip and pronate the hell out of it and see what you get basically. I started throwing that at Triple A, so that opened more avenues for me.”

Said Wilken: “He always had a good changeup. It was a borderline plus. His changeup was more of a fade. And then his second changeup (at Iowa) worked the other way. That was his biggest get-over and not get hurt with it.”

A magical run

Everything constructed towards an unbelievable 2016 season.

Hendricks, in his second full season, completed third in voting for the National League Cy Young Award. He grew to become the primary Cub to guide the majors in earned run common in 78 years, posting a 2.13 ERA in 31 video games (30 begins). Hitting on high draft picks Kris Bryant, Kyle Schwarber and Javier Báez and putting a deadline deal in 2013 that featured Jake Arrieta remodeling right into a Cy Young winner all performed a task in main the Cubs to their first World Series title since 1908.

Hendricks’ emergence as an elite starter in some ways made him the linchpin of what got here to be.

“That’s the part that really kind of baffles me or that it still doesn’t make all the sense,” he mentioned. “And getting further away from it is just how much happened so quickly for a lot of us young guys and that group that really came together.”

Schwarber, now with the Philadelphia Phillies,caught 5 of Hendricks’ begins.

“It was easy for a catcher to call those games because if he shakes, it’s because he knows what he wants to do,” Schwarber mentioned “I think more of the game for the catcher is trying to make sure you don’t get any shakes. It’s fun because you just sit back there and you don’t move your glove. That’s the easy part. The best part is just learning about how he thinks going through the different times through the order.”

Said Hyde: “When Kyle took the mound you were going to win. Because you knew he was unbelievably prepared. You could feel like you just chalk it up. It was going to be seven innings of two runs or less.”

Hendricks’ postseason efficiency took him to a different degree. Between the 2016 NL Championship Series and the World Series, he made 4 begins and surrendered simply two earned runs in 21⅔ innings.

“He’s the definition of pitching,” mentioned David Ross, Hendricks’ teammate in 2015-16 and the present Cubs supervisor. “The way he carries himself is probably my favorite thing about him, just the absolute nonemotional, nonaffected pitcher and probably one of the best I’ve ever been around with handling all that stuff.”

Said Schwarber: “The more satisfying part is knowing that it’s a good guy. He works hard. He does his homework. He’s prepared every single time he takes the mound and that ’16 season it was just a combination of everything at once hitting it all out there.”

Game 7 of the World Series represented Hendricks’ second time within the 2016 postseason he began a series-clinching recreation.

“I really wasn’t nervous before Game 7 in the sense of I’ve been way more nervous in some regular-season games,” he mentioned. “When I just know I don’t quite have it, when I know it’s going to be a battle when I’m off and I’m just going to have to figure it out out. You just know you’re not quite secure in your stuff and what you have. But at that time, I felt like I was throwing really well. I was genuinely excited to go out there.”

After holding Cleveland to 2 runs (one earned) in 4⅔ innings, Hendricks needed to watch the Cubs attempt to maintain a two-run lead by 5 innings.

“When I was taken out, I went and did my arm care real quick and then I was up in the clubhouse, I was down in the dugout, I was up and down,” he mentioned. “Then I was in the dugout for the Rajai Davis homer, and I was like, I’ve got to get out, I’m in the wrong place. So I was pacing all over, I couldn’t keep it together.”

The Cubs’ 8-7 win in 10 innings ended Cubs followers’ struggling and secured the legacies of gamers akin to Hendricks, whose World Series championship ring sits tucked away at his house.

“I’m in the middle of my career and I hear people in the stands still say, ‘Thank you so much for 2016′ or ‘you’re a legend, we love you so much,’ and I’m like, whoa, I’m not done yet,” Hendricks mentioned. “But it is incredible to just know that that accomplishment is always there.”

What comes subsequent

Hendricks is looking.

The final two seasons haven’t been on par for what the right-hander expects of himself or what the Cubs want from him. Since the beginning of 2021, Hendricks’ ERA sits at 4.78 in 48 begins and beneath the league common with an 89 ERA+.

Hendricks, at the moment on the injured checklist with a proper shoulder pressure, hopes to get again on monitor each time he returns through the remaining two months. He may very well be a free agent after 2023 if his membership choice is declined and is aware of he isn’t executing on the degree he wants.

Going ahead, Hendricks is targeted on reshaping his psychological method. He doesn’t consider he must reinvent himself.

“I think he’s at a point in his career where he may be interested in adding a different type of fastball, maybe a cut to it or adding a slider,” pitching coach Tommy Hottovy mentioned. “But when he’s healthy and at his best, he’s still pretty dang good.”

Hendricks has messed round throwing a slider throughout bullpens and anticipates persevering with to tinker with the pitch, maybe incorporating it into his repertoire subsequent 12 months.

“You always have to keep revamping and adjusting and adapting and a slider could be a part of that,” Hendricks mentioned. “But honestly, I see when I go out in the games where I execute right with my stuff and piece it together the right way, I have enough pitches.”

Ross referred to as it a “powerful thing” that Hendricks “just continues to be himself.”

“I still feel like he’s a sinker-changeup-type guy that’s going to mix in a breaking ball now more,” Ross mentioned. “He learned to pitch up in the zone a little bit more later in his career. He’s also stubborn at times, which is a good thing. He stays true to himself, good or bad, and knows what got him here. He’s going to stick to that.”

Said Cooper: “I’ve talked to scouts. I’ve talked about players since then, coming up through the minors, and they’ll be described as being a little Kyle Hendricks-like, like this guy has potential to have command-control like Kyle Hendricks. Those guys usually haven’t turned out. It’s really hard to do this, and he’s done it very well.”

Hendricks’ legacy already is cemented in Cubs historical past as one of many franchise’s most profitable pitchers. And all of it traces again to a cellphone name 10 years in the past in his supervisor’s workplace in North Carolina and Dempster heading to Texas.

“I prided myself on giving everything I got when I was on the field, and I pride myself on loving the fans in Chicago,” Dempster mentioned. “And to get traded for somebody who ends up being a better teammate, a better player, and brings the World Series to the fans in Chicago, I mean, that’s a treat.”



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