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Cubs make a Rule 5 trade, lose two pitchers

Cubs make a Rule 5 trade, lose two pitchers

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The Cubs selected right-handed pitcher Mason Tobin in the Rule 5 Draft on Thursday at baseball's Winter Meetings, but traded him for cash considerations to the Rangers.

The deal had been prearranged before the Draft began at the Walt Disney World Swan & Dolphin Resort. The Cubs had the eighth pick in the Major League phase; the Rangers had the 23rd selection.

"We've added 14 players to our roster since Spring Training, and we felt like we didn't tie up another 40-man spot with a very young player based on the fact we'd added so many guys," said Randy Bush, the Cubs' assistant general manager.

The Cubs did not take another player in the other two phases of the Draft but did lose two pitchers in the Triple-A phase. The Mets selected right-hander Ron Morla while the Orioles took lefty Casey Lambert.

Morla, whom the Cubs acquired from the Athletics along with Jeff Gray for Aaron Miles and Jake Fox in December 2009, was 4-3 with a 4.00 ERA in 43 games at Class A Peoria with 86 strikeouts in 78 2/3 innings. Lambert, a sixth-round pick in the 2007 First-Year Player Draft, had gotten as high as Triple-A Iowa in 2009, but his ascension was sidetracked by Tommy John surgery on his right elbow. He was 1-0 with a 2.95 ERA in 14 games with Class A Daytona last season.

"Nobody ever wants to lose a player," Cubs player development director Oneri Fleita said. "You wish these guys well."

The Cubs were relieved that third baseman Marquez Smith wasn't taken in the Rule 5 Draft. Smith batted .314 with 17 homers, 26 doubles and 53 RBIs at Iowa last season. He's yet to find offensive or defensive consistency, which would help him move up the Majors.

"I would've hated to lose him," Bush said.

Smith was playing for Aragua in the Venezuelan Winter, but returned home after hitting .247 in 30 games with five homers, five doubles and 16 RBIs.

"It was a nice first half, nice experience first time out of the country," Fleita said of Smith. "I'm always anxious to see how that works out. Normally, you gain a greater appreciation for life, at the very least, and you understand what some of your teammates had to go through to get to the big leagues."

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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