With the trading months of June and July now upon us, this is the time many reporters throw out “what if” scenarios and hope that one sticks. This season the Cubs figure to have many “what if” scenarios leading up to the trading deadline. Some of those scenarios may include: What if the Cubs trade Carlos Zambrano? What if the Cubs trade Aramis Ramirez? What if the Cubs trade Kosuke Fukudome? What if the Cubs trade Carlos Pena? Before the trade deadline passes, we will lay out each of the aforementioned scenarios and then some to examine what the real trade possibilities are for the Cubs this season.
First up–if you couldn’t tell by the title–is first baseman Carlos Pena.
The Cubs signed Pena this off-season to a one year, $10 million contract. Though, Pena’s one year deal may be the most creative deal that was ever constructed in major league baseball. As Pena’s $10 million will be paid out over the next two years, with the first installment already paid in the winter of 2010. The term for the contract was a pillow contract. There has always been the possibility that the Cubs may look to sign Pena to a long term extension, but, early indications are that this will be Pena’s first and last season with the Cubs. However, Pena may not even finish the season with the Cubs.
The Cubs intend to be sellers over the next couple of months, and hope to give themselves some added flexibility on the payroll. Unfortunately, the players the Cubs may want to move the most–Alfonso Soriano, Aramis Ramirez, Kosuke Fukudome, and Carlos Zambrano–have immovable contracts. Which is why Pena figures to be relatively movable in comparison to other players on the Cubs roster. In fact, Pena may be one of the best power hitters on the market if the Cubs make him available.
But if the Cubs are going to trade Pena, there is a strong chance they would look for a young first baseman to trade for. More specifically, they would look for a young first baseman that is currently being blocked in their organization. The original plan for the Cubs was to sign either Albert Pujols or Prince Fielder this off-season, but revelations about the Cubs’ debt may keep them out of the free agency frenzy. So, there still is a glaring opening at first base for the Cubs beyond this season. While Josh Vitters has been mentioned as a possible first baseman for the Cubs, the Cubs still intend to play Vitters at third base once he is ready for the major leagues.
With that in mind, the Cubs will likely look to trade for their next first baseman. There is a chance that the Cubs may take a look at Chris Davis of the Texas Rangers. Cubs fans should be no stranger to Davis, as Davis was heavily rumored to be headed to the Cubs this past winter in a trade that would have also netted the Cubs reliever Darren O’Day. The Rangers were interested in Rafael Dolis. So the two teams may try and work out a trade involving both Dolis and Davis.
But for that to happen, I would imagine that Pena would have to be traded first. Teams that may be interested in Pena are the Athletics, Rockies, Angels, and possibly the Rays. The Athletics are barely getting any production out of the first base position this season, and may try and acquire a player like Pena in order to make a run at the Texas Rangers, and Los Angeles Angels for the American League west crown.
As of now, the Cubs do not have any intention to trade Pena. But if the opportunity arises where the Cubs can get a good package of players for Pena, I’m sure they would listen. But for now at least, I do not anticipate Pena being traded before the trade deadline.