Roster Move: Cubs swap Bailey Horn for Matt Thompson with White Sox
Allan Henry - USA Today Sports

Roster Move: Cubs swap Bailey Horn for Matt Thompson with White Sox

by - Senior Writer -

It's not too often that rivals get together for trades, let alone inner-city rivals, but the Cubs and White Sox don't follow those rules. These two have been trading with each other for years, and that all started in 2017 when Jose Quintana was traded to the Cubs for Dylan Cease and Eloy Jimenez.

Then came the Nick Madrigal trade for Craig Kimbrel and Codi Heuer, among others. While the White Sox have been on the winning side in most of these trades, the two sides are going to continue to do business, and that continued on Tuesday. As expected, the Cubs made a 40-man roster decision in accordance with the Cody Bellinger signing and have traded a pitcher from their 40-man roster to the White Sox to make room.

The pitcher on the move is left-hander Bailey Horn, as he is being sent to Chicago for Matt Thompson. This may come as a surprise given how good Horn has looked this spring, but the Cubs had to decide for how they would add Bellinger and this is the way to go. Horn was listed as a top 30 Cubs prospect in some publications, with many feeling he had a great chance to land on the MLB roster this season.

Armed with a 95 MPH heater and one of the best breaking balls in the system, Horn has the swing-and-miss stuff to be a great reliever in this league and showcased that in his brief outings this spring. Ironically, this isn't the first time Horn will be in the White Sox organization as he was traded to the Cubs in 2021 for Ryan Tepera, so clearly, the White Sox valued him enough to bring him back.

A fifth-round pick in 2020, Horn started his career in the lower levels of the White Sox Minor League system before beginning to make some noise with the Cubs in 2023. In 45 games with the Cubs last season, Horn was excellent as he went 7-3 with a 4.21 ERA across 62 innings. He added three saves and seven holds and struck out 78 compared to 34 walks. He got better as the season went on.

It got to the point where some thought he had a chance to be a September call-up last season, but that spot was ultimately given to another lefty in Luke Little. Still, Horn came into camp confident this season and was expected to battle for a bullpen spot or, at the very least, become a MLB contributor at some point this season. Now that he is gone, Horn will have the rare opportunity to return to the organization that drafted him with a chance to prove his worth.

Look for him to get plenty of opportunities this spring, and unlike the Cubs situation, he will be a top 20 prospect in their system and most likely land on their opening-day roster. Best of luck to Horn in the future. Coming the Cubs way as part of the trade is another pitcher RHP Matt Thompson.

Younger than Horn, who is 26, Thompson is only 23 years old and still developing regarding the type of pitcher he can be. Thompson spent all of 2023 in AA, where he went on to post 4.85 ERA, 124.1 IP, 5.08 FIP, 23.9% K, 15.0% BB, and 1.09 HR/9. The ERA is a bit concerning, but ERA numbers across the Minors have been up, so don't look too much into that.

However, the command is an issue as he has less than a 2/1 strikeout-to-walk ratio. That won't cut it at the MLB, and he needs to iron out his command to make an impact in the future. The Cubs will be looking to do that with him in their pitch lab, as they want him to get there as quickly as possible to see what he can offer.

Given that Horn was a bullpen piece, the walk rate is a concern, as some are wondering if this move was made as a bullpen piece or more of a 40-man for non-40-man player. It is the second part for right now, but things can change, and with a great spring, who knows what could happen for Thompson in the future.

Thompson was the White Sox’s second-round pick in 2019, signed out of high school to a well-above-slot bonus. However, he hasn't developed at the rate the White Sox would've liked and found himself off their top 30 prospect list entering the season. Thompson tends to sit around 93 MPH with his heater while mixing a curveball and change to go with it. His problem is that he hasn't developed that much since high school, which makes him more of a mid-level minor league prospect.

The Cubs 40-man roster now stands at 39.

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