Saturday’s trade of Marlon Byrd to the Red Sox marked the start of what should become a busy season for the Cubs’ front office.
When I turned on my computer that afternoon, it wasn’t much of a surprise to see the Byrd story atop the front page of MLB Trade Rumors. The slow start at the plate, combined with the lack of future with the Chicago organization made Byrd an easy target for trade as early as this past off-season. I’m guessing Theo and Co. were hoping to see Byrd rebound from his scary injury last year to increase his value in the trade market, but the guy just hasn’t looked the same since the May beaning in Beantown. Byrd made his debut batting ninth in the Red Sox lineup last night going 1-4 with a single in the top of the seventh off of former Cub Jason Marquis.
Meanwhile, the Cubs designated Rodrigo Lopez for assignment to make room for Michael Bowden, the reliever acquired in the Byrd deal. Depending on the situation, Bowden could make his debut on the mound tonight. I’ve seen Bowden pitch when he was at AA Portland and nothing about him is spectacular, but he should provide an upgrade in middle relief over Lopez.
With Byrd gone, we can now focus our attention to be who could be gone next in this installment of “The Trade Machine.”
1) Matt Garza - I’m putting Garza first not because I think he should or even will be traded, but instead because Theo hasn’t shown a commitment to him yet. Garza has pitched very well in four starts this season and would likely gain a haul on the open market. I’m not going to talk much more about him because Noah will likely hit on a bunch of stuff tomorrow, but Garza remains the top trade chip for rebuilding. Personally I’d like to see a new contract or extension pushed across to the Garza camp in the coming weeks because he’s the type of pitcher I want on this team, but I have a feeling it won’t happen.
2) Geovany Soto - Soto hasn’t lived up to his good year, bad year billing in 2012 as he continues to bat severely under the Mendoza line. Soto’s defense is pretty good, but it isn’t good enough to overlook how badly he is performing at the plate. Steve Clevenger has played very well in limited duty and anything we’re getting out of Soto right now, we can get out of Wellington Castillo if he got called up. There are a few teams looking for catchers at this juncture, mainly the Rays that could be in play for Geo. I know it would make Lizzie very sad to see her stallion behind the plate get shipped off to a foreign land, but I think he’s in play here.
3) Ryan Dempster - If the Cubs had to trade one starting pitcher, it would be Dempster and not Garza. I know he wouldn’t garner as much compensation in the market as Garza would, but Garza is a starter the Cubs should build their team around and not Dempster. Contract Dempster, named by Jedi, has shown up once again in 2012 after a three year hiatus. In three starts Dempster is 0-1 despite having a 1.33 ERA in 20.1 innings, a huge improvement upon his start last year. If Dempster continues to pitch this well once he gets off of the DL, there could be a pitching hungry playoff contender that might look Dempster’s way to fill a middle rotation spot. If that opportunity arises, the front office better be all over that.
4) Carlos Marmol - Marmol’s been straight up tuuuurrrrible to start the year, but many teams would welcome the flame-thrower to the back end of the their staffs. I haven’t been able to exactly pinpoint any interest in Carlos, but if Theo and Jed decide to put Marmol on the block I don’t think he’ll be there long. Dolis is green and a little bit wild, but let him work through learning the closer role in what is a season of grooming players.
5) Alfonso Soriano - He would be first by a mile if this community had their way, but the bloated contract attached to his price tag scared teams away. The Cubs even offered to pay a huge portion of his salary for someone to take him off of their hands to no avail. If the front office really wants to dump Soriano, they are going to have to go the Byrd route and pay close to 80% of his salary the next two seasons for him to play elsewhere. Is it worth it? Absolutely because it will give his playing time to someone who actually deserves it. Now it is just a matter of finding a team foolish enough to do such a deal.
Let’s see some lists of who you feel could be traded in the coming months.