The Cubs have received interest on young right-handers Ben Brown and Hayden Wesneski, according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. Rosenthal notes that the club is “not necessarily inclined” to move either youngster, but could become more open to it if they’re successful in adding a veteran starter this offseason. Chicago has been connected to NPB lefty Shota Imanaga on the free agent market and Guardians righty Shane Bieber on the trade market, among others.
Wesneski, 26, was a sixth-round pick by the Yankees in the 2019 draft and was shipped to the Cubs at the 2022 trade deadline in exchange for sidearming right-hander Scott Effross. Wesneski made his MLB debut with the Cubs that September and impressed down the stretch, with a 2.18 ERA and a 25% strikeout rate in 33 innings of work across six appearances. Wesneski went on to win the club’s fifth starter job out of camp in 2023. That decision proved to be an ill-fated one, as he struggled to a 5.09 ERA and 5.90 FIP across eight starts before being demoted to Triple-A. After spending a month in an up-and-down role shuttling between Triple-A and the majors, Wesneski settled into a multi-inning relief role in late June and posted a 3.79 ERA with a 27% strikeout rate across his final 22 appearances (35 2/3 innings).
Brown, 24, has yet to make his major league debut after being acquired from the Phillies in exchange for David Robertson at the same deadline the Cubs landed Wesneski. Upon acquiring Brown, the Cubs immediately promoted him to Double-A where he held his own, with a 4.06 ERA and 32.1% strikeout rate in seven starts down the stretch. Brown returned to the Double-A level for his first four starts of the 2023 season and dominated to a microscopic 0.45 ERA while posting an incredible 39% strikeout rate across 20 innings of work. That success saw Brown earn a promotion to the Triple-A level, where he struggled for the first time in his time with Chicago. While he struck out 31.1% of batters faced, the right-hander’s ERA ballooned to 5.33 in 72 2/3 innings of work as he walked a whopping 15.8% of batters faced. If Brown is able to keep those control issues in check, he figures to be a big league rotation option as soon as next season.
While Wesneski and Brown both come with flaws, it’s hardly a surprise that pitching-needy clubs would be interested in either youngster’s services. After all, controllable starting pitching is among the most sought-after commodities in the league, and a…