Was AJ nearly a Cub in 2003?
Not sure how I missed this back in July when this report first came out, but it turns out that the Chicago Cubs were extremely interested in landing AJ Pierzynski following the 2003 season. According to AJ:
Supposedly, the Cubs were preparing to offer the Twins relievers Juan Cruz and Todd Wellemeyer. At that time, Cruz, who was Baseball America’s pre-2002’s number six overall prospect, had thrown 203 innings with a walk-heavy K-to-BB total (185-to-104) and a 4.43 ERA spread out between 2001 through 2003. Meanwhile Wellemeyer was a 24-year-old just coming off his first season at the major league level and tossed 27.2 innings with a 30-to-19 K-to-BB ratio with a 6.51 ERA.
“LaTroy Hawkins had just signed with the Cubs and he called me and said he’d talked to Dusty [Baker] and they were going to trade for me the next day.”
Wellemeyer, would pitch for four different teams the next six seasons and post an ERA of 4.75 in that time, and last pitched in the majors in 2010. Cruz, who is still pitching today, was traded to the Braves in March 2004, would have plenty of peaks and valleys over the next nine seasons.
Who knows how much of the report is true and to what the Twins would have said to Chicago’s offer (hopefully, it would have been “No, no, a thousand times no.). That said, had the Twins decided to unload AJ onto the Cubs for this pair of arms instead of waiting for San Francisco’s offer, the landscape of the team could have been significantly different – particularly at the back end of the games where they would miss their franchise’s all-time leader in saves.