In the wake of two outfielders being traded yesterday, the Cubs have decided to trade one of their own outfielders. As has been reported for most of this week, the Chicago Cubs and Cleveland Indians have been in discussions regarding a trade involving the Cubs right fielder Kosuke Fukudome. Which is why it should come to no surprise that the Cubs and Indians have agreed on a trade that will send Fukudome to Cleveland.
The two teams came to an agreement this morning; The Cubs will send Fukudome and cash considerations to the Indians for two minor-leaguers. The Cubs will be picking most of the remaining $4.7 million on Fukudome’s contract, as that is what allowed them to receive two prospects in exchange for the foreign outfielder.
It is safe to say that Fukudome never lived up to the Cubs’ expectations after signing a four year, $48 million contract with the Cubs after the 2007 season. The knock on Fukudome has been that he is unable to string together a full season of consistent play. In each of his first three seasons there was a considerable drop-off from his first half production to his second half production. That appears to be same case for this season as well. Fukudome started the season hitting .383/.486/.400/.886 in April, however since then, his production has been on the decline. Fukudome hit: .247/.389/.342/.731 in May, .229/.315/.385/.700 in June, and .266/.329/.344/.673 in July.
There now is an opening in right field for Tyler Colvin. Colvin is already in Milwaukee with the Cubs, and will take the place of Fukudome on the roster if the trade in announced before game-time. While some fans may have wanted to see top prospect Brett Jackson take the place of Fukudome in right field, Colvin makes more sense. For one, Jackson is just now starting to breakout of a 1-for-25 slump with the Iowa Cubs. Jackson is hitting .204/.298/.367/.666 with the Iowa Cubs since being promoted from Tennessee. Meanwhile, Colvin has been with the Iowa Cubs for most of the past two months. Colvin was hitting .256/.270/.478/.748 to go along with 7 home runs during his time with the Iowa Cubs.
Colvin will be given the opportunity he should have received to begin the 2011 season, which is to be an everyday player at the major league level. Colvin’s struggles at the major league level this season has been well-documented as he he was hitting .105/.175/.211/.385 in 38 games with the Cubs this season. Though, the issue was that Colvin was used mostly as a pinch-hitter. As we discovered earlier this season, in order for Colvin to be productive at the major league level, he needs to be in the lineup everyday and not used sparingly as a pinch hitter. Now, Colvin will be a full-time starter in right field and be given the chance to prove that he is indeed the run producer that the Cubs hope he can be. The Cubs envision Colvin, Jackson, as well as Matt Szczur as their future outfield trio.
In exchange for Fukudome, the Cubs received Triple-A pitcher Carlton Smith and High-A right fielder Abner Abreu. Abreu was the key for the Cubs in the deal. His raw power but high k-percentage and low on base percentage has drawn comparisons to Willy Mo Pena. Though at age 21, Abreu still has a high ceiling. Smith, on the other hand, is a career minor leaguer. After struggling as a starting pitcher for most of his professional career, Smith has found some success as a reliever this season with the Indians Triple-A affiliate. The return of Smith and Abreu was the general expectation for what the Cubs would receive for Fukudome.
The Cubs do not plan on stopping after the Fukudome trade. In addition to trying push Alfonso Soriano and Carlos Zambrano on any team that is interested, they also have been receiving a lot of calls on center fielder Marlon Byrd. Fukudome could very well be the first domino to fall in what is likely going to be an eventful 5 weeks for the Cubs leading up to September.