For all the talk of who will not be traded this week–Sean Marshall, Aramis Ramirez, and maybe Carlos Pena–one player rumored to be on the trade market has gone unmentioned in recent weeks. Kosuke Fukudome is in the final year of his four year, $48 million contract that he signed with the Cubs after the 2007 season. It would seem that this will be Fukudome’s final week as a member of the Cubs’ organization. The Cubs have looked to trade Fukudome for the past two seasons, but, it would seem that there has never been greater interest in Fukudome than there is now from contending teams.
Bruce Levine of ESPN Chicago reports that several contending teams have zeroed in on Fukudome and hope to the acquire the Japanese outfielder this week. One of the team that Levine mentions is the Cleveland Indians. The Indians have a need for another bat in their lineup, and their need for an outfielder has increased since centerfielder Grady Sizemore was placed on the disabled list. Fukudome does have a limited trade clause in his contract that allows him to block trades to six teams, but it is unknown if the Indians are one of those teams. Even if they are, do not expect Fukudome to invoke his no trade clause. Come August 1, Fukudome will be owed $4.3 million for the rest of the season, the Cubs may absorb most of that in order to receive better prospects.
For some time now, the expectation was once Fukudome was traded, top prospect Brett Jackson would make his way to the major leagues. That may not be the case now. Because that expectation was generated when Tyler Colvin was still on the major league roster. Of course, Colvin has spent most of the past two months with the Iowa Cubs. Reason being that Colvin had to play everyday, something he was not able to do on the major league roster. But that opportunity would arrive if Fukudome is indeed traded this week. That would create an opening in right field, where Colvin projects to play once he is a full-time starter on the major league roster. However, that does not mean that Jackson will not be with the Cubs sometime in the next two weeks. Fukudome is not the only outfielder the Cubs are shopping. In fact, the Cubs are shopping all three of their starting outfielders with the hope of potentially trading two of them to make room for both Jackson and Colvin.
Despite seeing a drop in batting average over the past month, Fukudome to this point has been able to string together a consistent season. In 84 games this season, Fukudome is hitting .272/.374/.371/.745. The contending teams that are looking to acquire Fukudome this week may be interested in using him in a platoon situation, or even as a fourth outfielder with a defensive upside. Nonetheless, it finally looks like Fukudome will be traded.