I think it’s apparent to most Cub fans (it’s still up for debate on whether Ricketts is still in dream land thinking this team has a chance) that the Cubs are in need of a fire sale. Let’s a take a look at what pieces are available for Jim Hendry to work on in the next three months.
Ryan Dempster – He’s signed for the remainder of the season at $13.5 million and has a player option for 2012. He’s a tremendous player to have in the clubhouse and on the team in general, but I have to wonder what his feelings are for next year. Some guys have the desire to be in a certain place. Chicago was a team that took a chance on him when he was recovering from Tommy John so we’ll see how he feels about staying here. He needs to be shopped for the simple fact that he could leave and the Cubs can’t do a thing about it. If I were Demp, I’d opt out of the deal and try to get paid one more time before retirement.
Carlos Zambrano – It seems like we’ve been shopping his sorry butt for years, but it really hasn’t been that long. It’s hard to see him moving anywhere for two reasons. First, he has said over and over that he would not waive the no-trade clause in his contract. There was a brief tease last year about it, but factor in the other reason, his contract, and you’ve got a player that is probably not going to be going anywhere before next year. He’s scheduled to make a shade under $18 million this year and then $18 mil next season with a vesting option for 2013 that is probably not going to vest. The contact states that the option vests if he finishes in the top 2 in the Cy Young this year or the Top 4 next year and is healthy at the end of the 2012 season. It ain’t happening.
Carlos Pena – He signed a one year deal in the off-season as a stop gap. If the Cubs are serious about making a strong play for a long term solution at the position this off-season then it would serve them well to see what they can get for Pena before the deadline. The problem is that the teams who need help at the position are teams that really aren’t very good. The only team I could see having any interest would be the Giants, to replace Aubrey Huff.
Aramis Ramirez – His time in Chicago is coming to a close. We have a club option for him for 2012 at a rate of $16 million. To buy him out would cost $2 million and the Cubs have already said they will not be exercising the option for next season. Unfortunately, Ramirez hasn’t performed and has seen the value of his contract drop significantly. Injuries have been a concern. His no-trade clause ended at the end of the season last year so he’s tradable if you can find a taker. The problem is that if he’s traded, his 2012 option becomes guaranteed. That’s a pretty big matzo ball hanging out there. Perhaps we can pull one over on the White Sox. They need a third baseman.
Jeff Baker – This is a guy I could see moving before the deadline. In fact, I can almost promise he’ll be gone. Blake DeWitt has done enough to make Baker expendable. He’s a nice, cheap, platoon piece that can play multiple positions that can help a team on the bench down the stretch. Combine that with his low salary and the fact that he’s still in his arbitration years and you’ve got a player very pleasing to the trade pallet.
Alfonso Soriano – He’s not going anywhere…period. Stop dreaming. He’s going to rot out that contract in Chicago. I know that’s depressing so let’s leave you with this note on him. His contract through 2014 is $18 million annually. At least that means that he becomes more of a value as inflation takes effect.
Marlon Byrd – He’s a hard worker and a good outfielder. The problem is that his face is broken. That may be a scary proposition for GM. It’s a risky move to give up anything of value for a guy that may come back shell shocked.
Kosuke Fukudome – This is the last year on the books for Fukudome. He plays a good right field and seems to have figured out how to continue to hit once the calendar turns over past May. He could be a decent trade piece for someone looking for on base percentage and defense. He can provide both and provide them quite well.
Kerry Wood – I would hope to God that the Cubs wouldn’t do it, but you have to think that his value for the price he’s signed for could draw interest from quite a few people. He took a massive home town discount to be here. Don’t screw him over. Let him retire here and then be a part of the organization like he wants to do.
So there you have it. There are your trade pieces. Do you really think a fire sale is coming? Really?