Now, that the Chicago Cubs added a left handed run producer to their lineup in the form of Carlos Pena, many expect the Cubs to intensify their efforts to try and trade Kosuke Fukudome. Fukudome is entering the final year of his contract and is slated to make $13.5MM for the 2011 season.
Kosuke Fukudome spent the previous three seasons as the Cubs starting right fielder. But, with the emergence of Tyler Colvin last season, Fukudome began seeing less and less playing time to the point where he was Benched in favor of Colvin during this past season.
Now, that Fukudome is essentially a fourth outfielder for the Chicago Cubs, many feel like it is the right time to move Fukudome and a portion of his $13.5MM remaining salary for the 2011 season. However, that may not be the best idea for the Chicago Cubs. Because, you have to consider that the Cubs bench has been one of their weak spots in recent years. By trading Fukudome, the Cubs would only be decreasing the amount of production from their bench and not improving it. With this in mind, you have to ask the question, do the Cubs really have to trade Kosuke Fukudome?
The obvious reason for why the Chicago Cubs should trade Kosuke Fukudome is because they would be creating some flexibility by saving a portion of Fukudome’s $13.5MM salary for this season. It is believed that the Cubs are looking for a team to take at least half of Fukudome’s remaining salary in any trade. But that might not be a realistic option for the Cubs, considering that many teams around baseball are hesitant to take on salary in a trade. Meaning the only option for the Cubs, may be to take a bad contract in return for Fukudome. But, even that may be unlikely, considering that the Cubs probably would not want to take on a player who is under contract past the 2011 season. And, really there are not a lot of matches for the Cubs in regards to teams that would be a fit for Fukudome. Not to mention, Fukudome does hold a partial no trade clause, which limits the teams he could be traded to.
Plus, it is not crazy to think that the Chicago Cubs could hang onto Kosuke Fukudome for the season, instead of trading him. Because, Fukudome’s numbers did increase once Mike Quade took over the Cubs in place of Lou Piniella. Under Piniella for the 2010 season, Fukudome had a line of .258/.365/.425. Meanwhile, finishing the season under Mike Quade beginning on August 20th, Fukudome had a line of .277/.390/.482. It was kind of obvious that Fukudome had been in Piniella’s doghouse for most of the season, and may be that was taking a toll on Fukudome when he was playing. But no matter how you look at it, you can not argue with the fact that Fukudome’s numbers spiked once Mike Quade took over as manager.
Another reason to keep Fukudome, is because he would be an ideal fourth outfielder for the Chicago Cubs. Fukudome’s struggles over the course of his career have been attributed to the fact that he does not have the stamina to last the entire season. With Fukudome as a fourth outfielder, he would see less at-bats which in hindsight may actually increase his offensive production. Not to mention that Fukudome remains an above average fielder in the game, which could come in handy late in games to replace Alfonso Soriano.
While, I’m not against the Cubs trading Fukudome, I feel that they shouldn’t trade him just to trade him. Because he still can be a quality fourth outfielder and a vital asset to their bench. Now, on the other hand, if the Cubs trade Fukudome because they need the money to sign a reliever or a starting pitcher, then I would have no objections to such a move. Regardless of what happens, the fate of Fukudome is a storyline that bares watching for the rest of the off-season.