Can The Cubs Be Sellers?


As the trading months of June and July approach there are bound to be countless suggestions at what the Cubs should do as the trading deadline draws closer. More than likely the Cubs are not going to be in a position where they are seeking to improve their team for a potential post-season run this season. Instead, the Cubs will likely try to move some of the veterans on the team in an attempt to improve the farm system. But given the high price of the veterans on the Cubs roster, it may be difficult for them to be classified as true sellers during the trading season.

ESPN’s Jim Bowden previewed the trading season for five sellers this season. As a former general manager with the Reds and Nationals, Bowden figures to have some insightful commentary when it comes to trades. Granted, Bowden was never really considered to be a top-tier general manager. However, Bowden has been a credible analyst. While he drew criticism from the Cubs during spring training for labeling the Cubs as a team full of #6 hitters, the opinion proved to be correct during the early portion of the season.

But back to the matter at hand. Bowden believes that the core of the Cubs are Starlin Castro, Darwin Barney, and Carlos Marmol. There is no question that Castro is the cornerstone for the Cubs going towards the future, but, Barney has also put his name among the cornerstones for the Cubs for the future with his impressive play this season. If a team is going to have any chance of having continual success, they are going to need a closer. Carlos Marmol is among the games best at closing games, and figures to be a mainstay in the Cubs’ bullpen for a long time.

As for who the Cubs should try and trade this season, Bowden suggests that the Cubs front office be prepared to eat a significant amount of salary from their big contracts if they expect to trade any veteran this season. That, in part, is the reason why the Cubs will struggle to be sellers this season. Unless a team is willing to take on salary in a trade with the Cubs, don’t expect much of a fire sale by the Cubs this season. General manager Jim Hendry’s track record shows that he is rarely willing to absorb majority of the salary when trading away high priced veterans. Nonetheless, Carlos Pena, Carlos Zambrano,Ryan Dempster, and Aramis Ramirez are all the players that Bowden suggests the Cubs should try and trade this season.

This is where Bowden does not make sense. Because of all the players on the Cubs roster, the four he mentioned may be the most unlikely to get traded. Both Dempster and Ramirez have 10-5 rights that allows them to veto any trade, and both have made it known that they hope to remain with the Cubs. In addition, Ramirez’s 2012 option would automatically kick in if he is traded. The same can be said about Zambrano, who also has a no trade clause. Zambrano has every intention of remaining with the Cubs through his contract, and Hendry has shown no desire to trade Zambrano in the past.

As for trading Carlos Pena, that does not make sense for a multitude of reasons. The obvious is because the Cubs don’t have a first baseman ready to take the place of Pena. Tyler Colvin would be a candidate, but manager Mike Quade does not appear to be a supporter of Colvin as a first baseman. Also, Pena is considered to be a leader among his teammates. As well as being a leader, Pena is also viewed as mentor to the younger players such as Castro and Barney. So again, Pena will not be traded.

The only other high priced veterans on the team are Alfonso Soriano and Kosuke Fukudome. Despite the constant rumors and speculation about trading Soriano, there is no chance Soriano gets traded with the amount of money that is left on his contract. The same can be said about Fukudome, though, the Cubs also like the defense and offensive approach that Fukudome has.

There will probably be no blockbuster trades for the Cubs this season. Though, I would expect players like Blake DeWitt, Jeff Baker, John Grabow, and potentially Geovany Soto to be trade candidates leading up to the trade deadline. If Marlon Byrd had not gotten injured, he would likely be the top candidate to be traded. But with the injury, Byrd will likely remain with the Cubs for the remainder of the season.