Cubs Deal Former 1st Round Draft Pick to D'backs
Jackson, who turned 26 last week, was the Cubs 1st round draft pick (31st overall) in June 2009 out of the University of California, and he was rated the Cubs #1 prospect by Baseball America as late as 2012. He also was rated a "Top 100" Prospect by both BA and Baseball Prospectus for three consecutive seasons (2010-2012). He played in the MLB All-Star Futures Game in 2009, was a member of Team USA and played in the Pan-American Qualifying Tournament in 2010, and he played in the Arizona Fall League (AFL) with the Mesa Solar Sox in 2010.
Jackson was added to the Cubs MLB 40-man roster when he was called up to the big leagues on August 5, 2012, after hitting 256/338/479 at AAA Iowa with 15 HR, 22 doubles, 27 SB, and a PCL league-leading 12 triples and 156 strikeouts. Jackson hit 175/303/342 in 44 MLB games for the Cubs after being called-up, and then he spent the 2013 and 2014 seasons in the minors, first at Iowa and then at AA Tennessee in 2013, and back at Iowa again in 2014.
Jackson hit 223/300/367 at Iowa and (after getting demoted) just 200/309/284 at Tennessee in 2013, as the Cubs tried to get him to be more aggressive at the plate and not take so many strikes. He didn't do much better this season, as strikeouts continue to be his achilles heel (210/298/348 at Iowa with 94 K in 252 PA in 2014).
At his best, B-Jax is a gap-hitter with XBH power. a good baserunner with the ability to steal bases, and an outstanding defensive CF albeit with a below-average arm. He also has been a very passive hitter for much of his career, drawing a lot of walks but also getting called out on strikes quite a bit (29% K-rate and 12% BB-rate in 2427 career minor league PA). He generally has hit RHP much better than lefties throughout his career, so if he does surface in the big leagues again, he would probably be a platoon guy.
Like Jackson, Cooper is 26 years old. He was selected by Arizona in the 12th round of the 2010 draft out of the University of South Carolina, and he has moved steadily if somewhat slowly through the D'backs system, never appearing on any "Top Prospects" lists over the years, and only just recently getting a promotion to AAA Reno (PCL) in what is his 5th minor league season. He has put up a 6.00 ERA and 1.75 WHIP with 25 hits allowed and 17/20 BB/K in 24.0 IP at AAA since his promotion.
In 236.2 IP in 192 career minor league games, Cooper has a collective 3.27 ERA and 1.32 WHIP. He has surrendered only 7 HR in his career (an outstanding 0.3 HR allowed per 9.0 IP), however, and that includes considerable time (73 games over three seasons) spent in the hitter-friendly California League. He was used as a closer his first three years in the D'backs system, but has been strictly a middle-reliever the last two seasons at AA and AAA.
Cooper was not on the Diamondbacks MLB 40-man roster, so he does not have to be added to the Cubs 40-man roster. He will be Rule 5 Draft eligible again post-2014 (as he was post-2013), but he is not a candidate to get added to the Cubs 40 at this point. He is the type of pitcher who gets a slot in the AFL, so I would not be surprised if he is one of the Cubs assigned to the Mesa Solar Sox after the season. The closest Cub organizational statistical comp to Cooper is probably Dae-Eun Rhee, except Rhee is a AA/AAA back-end of the rotation starter and Cooper is a AA/AAA middle-reliever. But they are a similar age (Rhee is 25 and Cooper is 26) and get very similar results across the board.
Jackson supposedly was first claimed off waivers by Arizona and then the trade was made. For the trade to have happened that way (D'backs claim player, and then Cubs get another player back), B. Jackson must have been claimed off Trade Assignment Waivers rather than off Outright Assignment Waivers, so the Cubs clearly weren't trying to outright Jackson to the minors when he was claimed. The Cubs might have anticipated the claim, however, if the Cubs and Diamondbacks had agreed to the trade in advance, in which case it would just have been a matter of the Cubs requesting Trade Waivers (really just a formality in this case) and then Arizona making a claim (only the Colorado Rockies had a higher Trade Waiver claim-priority, and the Cubs probably knew the Rockies weren't interested in B-Jax).
Note that although players on MLB 40-man rosters--including players optioned to the minors--must be placed on Trade Assignment Waivers before they can be traded after 7/31, it was not necessary for Arizona to place Cooper on Trade Waivers because he was not on an MLB 40-man roster.
The D'backs had one slot open on their 40-man roster prior to the trade, so they don't have to DFA anybody to make room for Jackson. He will have one minor league option left next season. And the Cubs now have one slot open on their 40-man roster, although there apparently is no immediate need for that slot.
Brett Jackson is the second Cal Golden Bear to leave the Cub organization in the last 24 hours, as catcher Chadd Krist (Cubs 2012 9th round draft pick) was released yesterday. (Krist had been at Daytona).