The success of the Chicago Cubs in 2012 and 2013 depends on how Jim Hendry handles the next three and a half weeks. The trade deadline is right around the corner and the Cubs have yet to make any noise. If Hendry elects to do nothing, this will be a total failure. If he works on many deals and gets several of them done, then he deserves some credit. Trading older players when a team is out of the race accomplishes three things:
- creates room for prospects and younger players to receive playing time down the stretch
- saves money
- nets the seller minor league players that could end up panning out
Here is what I believe should be Jim Hendry’s priority list at the trading deadline.
1. Trade Kosuke Fukudome
The Kosuke signing was the first in a series of bad ones by GM Jim Hendry. Fukudome has not been very productive in any of his four seasons since coming from Japan. Kosuke has partial no-trade protection, but he can probably be convinced to waive that in order to go to a contender in what could be his last MLB season. He is strong defensively and provides enough offense that he could be a serviceable fourth outfielder and pinch hitter for a contending club. Since Kouske is not returning to the team anyway, there is no reason to hang on to him if the Cubs can save any money whatsoever by dumping him.
2. Ask Aramis Ramirez to Waive His No-Trade
Hendry should be doing everything possible to convince Aramis Ramirez to waive his no-trade clause. In the scenario that Rami agrees to leave, he’s gone. The Cubs plan to buy him out of the 2012 option anyway, so they might as well ship him to a contender who would love to rent him for the rest of the year.
3. Trade Marlon Byrd
Since Marlon Byrd is the one guy on the team that does not have a no-trade clause, he should be easiest to deal. Hendry should be on the phone trying to find a team that needs outfield assistance. The Cubs will most likely have to pay a chunk of his salary, but if they save some money and receive a few mid level prospects in return it is worth it.
4. Trade Reed Johnson
The Cubs should actually be able to get a solid return for Johnson, who is hitting a robust .328. A team will not be concerned about paying what is left of his $900,000 deal. He will probably garner some interest and net the Cubs a strong prospect or two.
5. Search for a Taker for Z
Most likely, no team will give the Cubs much for an under-performing pitcher that is signed for another year, with an option that vests if he is healthy at the end of 2012. Carlos Zambrano has already said that he will waive his no-trade clause if the team asks him to do so. I really doubt that there is that much interest in Z, but starting pitching is usually at a premium so there is a chance that someone would be willing to take him off the Cubs hands.
6. Trade Carlos Pena
Signing Carlos Pena, who hit under .200 in 2010, to a one year contract worth $10 million when the Cubs knew they would probably not compete was a huge mistake. Dumping Pena could easily have been higher on the priority list. The Cubs will have to send some cash because no team will want to pay the $5 million in deferred money owed to Carlos in January. There is always a need for left handed thump off the bench, so I bet there will be a taker out there.
7. Search for a Team that Wants Grabow or Samardzija
Both relievers are in the final year of their contracts, so there is really no need to have them stick around for the duration of this lost season. I doubt there is much interest in Grabow, but I’m sure there are several clubs after Samardzija since he has been having a solid year.
8. Listen to Offers for Dempster and Garza
If teams are willing to take on the full contracts of Ryan Dempster and Matt Garza, I do not have a problem letting either one go. The Garza trade was a huge mistake, and Demp’s performance continues to decline. My asking price would not be too high for either one of these guys. If the Cubs can get back half of the talent they lost in acquiring Garza, I will be satisfied. Dempster could invoke his ten-and-five rights to block a trade, but I have a feeling he would be willing to go to help the Cubs.
Obviously, if someone wants Alfonso Soriano and he is willing to go, he’s gone. The same goes for Jeff Baker, Blake DeWitt, Randy Wells (depending on the offer) and Koyie Hill. Here is the list of players that I would not be willing to part ways with.
1. Geovany Soto
Despite his offensive struggles, I still have hope that Soto could help the Cubs when they become a contender again. The only way I would pull a trigger on a deal is if a club was willing to give up a top tier prospect.
2. Kerry Wood
Kerry Wood probably has a lot of value among teams that need a cheap setup man. However, he wants to stay in Chicago. He recently started a foundation with his wife and would like to be in town to help run it. Baseball is a business, but given the hometown discount that he gave the Cubs I wouldn’t want to ship him out against his wishes.
3. Sean Marshall
In the scenario that the Cubs return to contention in 2012 or even 2013, I think the veteran left hander could be a key piece to the squad. He is one of the few guys on the team that could be valuable to hold on to.
4. Carlos Marmol
Carlos Marmol has been in a funk as of late. Trading him now would be similar to selling your stocks when the market hits rock bottom. Patience will allow Marmol’s stock to increase once he returns to his usually filthy self. Next season, the Cubs can revisit this and possibly work out a trade or hang on to him.
Starlin Castro and Darwin Barney are the two untouchables.
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