The rumor wires are starting to heat up, but we are probably a week away from the worst of the feeding frenzy. Right now it seems much of the activity centers on Carlos Beltran. The Cubs have as many as four outfielders who could be available, but none of them are likely to move until the Beltran situation is settled. Fukudome or Byrd would make a nice fallback plan for anyone who loses the Beltran derby, espeically if Pence is taken off the market in Houston.
Speaking of Cub outfielders, we have some minor updates on Fukudome and Soriano, as well as an extremely rare media endorsement of Jim Hendry.
Reports are continuing to indicate that moving Alfonso Soriano is a Cub priority. Bruce Levine reports that the Cubs are willing to eat a “high percentage” of the $60 million or so left on his deal. How high is high? $40 million? $50 million? If the Cubs kick in $50 million I think there will definitely be a market for Soriano, and that he should fetch a pretty good return. That turns him into a $3 million a year DH for an AL club, and I’m guessing it would be very tough to beat Soriano’s power for $3 million a year.
That doesn’t mean a buyer will come forward, though. Soriano is going to be a tough sell no matter how much money the Cubs eat, but he could be traded. In the right situation, I think he’ll make his new team extremely happy.
Because of his contract, there is virtually no chance that Soriano will not clear waivers. That means he could be dealt as late as August 31.
Kosuke Fukudome is being persistently linked to the Indians. Bruce Levine has this story as well. The Indians need some offensive help and recently lost one of their key outfielders. Fukudome fills a need in Cleveland almost perfectly, but I doubt that Cleveland will be the only suitor. I think Fukudome could be one of the first Cubs to go.
In that same article Levine mentions that teams have been calling about Marlon Byrd. If the Cubs can’t move Soriano, then I think they will seriously consider trading Byrd. However, if both Soriano and Fukudome are moved, Byrd becomes the ideal guy to work alongside Brett Jackson and Tyler Colvin in the outfield for the rest of this season, and quite possibly for next season as well. By the end of 2012, when Byrd’s contract is over, we could be on the verge of Matthew Szczur making his Wrigley debut. Of course, if the Cubs get blown away by an offer for Byrd they’ll move him. Byrd is less likely to clear waivers, but an August deal is still possible.
Gordon Wittenmeyer makes a case for the Cubs extending Jim Hendry for a couple more years. His arguments are not terribly compelling, and I think the fall more into the category of reasons not to fire Hendry immediately, but the article is well worth reading.
I particularly liked that Wittenmeyer finally gave the Cubs a bit of credit for rebuilding their farm system. Many Cub fans still believe that the Cubs’ farm system is absolutely terrible, when that is very far from the truth. The vast majority of articles churned out by the Chicago press tend to write off the Cubs farm system as an abysmal failure. Historically the Cubs farm system has been more disappointing than productive. Recently, however, it is as strong as it has been in a very long term, and it has been producing a fairly steady stream of quality players for a few years now. It will only get better as more of the better talent emerges from the lower ranks, and as the Cubs continue to invest in high ceiling players in the draft and the more expensive class of amateurs internationally. It’s nice to see a sports writer actually admit the Cubs are doing something write, and not just pile on the criticism when it really isn’t justified.