As the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline nears, a lot of time has been spent on determining who the Cubs will look to trade this season. Considering the Cubs fall under the “seller” category, the focus is on who the Cubs will trade in order to improve their team for 2012 and beyond. But even if the Cubs are sellers this season, that does not mean that the team will not be able to add a player that can have an immediate impact. In 2009, both the Chicago White Sox and Cincinnati Reds made moves that the Cubs may look to emulate this season. Both the White Sox and Reds missed the playoffs that season, but made moves to help them contend in 2010. The White Sox traded for Jake Peavy, and then claimed Alex Rios off waivers from the Toronto Blue Jays. While, the Reds traded for Scott Rolen, who was a key part in the Reds run to the National League Central crown in 2010. The Cubs may look to pull off similar moves that the Reds and White Sox made in 2009.
The biggest areas of need for the Chicago Cubs are starting pitching, first base, and third base. Over the past couple of months, Joe, Luke, and myself have had our “scout” hats on to look at players the Cubs will look to target at the deadline. Below you will find the players that we have highlighted as potential targets for the Cubs this season. Note that this list is based on our own speculation and opinion.
Starting Pitching Targets
- Zach Duke– I know his numbers aren’t the greatest this season, but the Cubs could use a lefty in the rotation, and Duke might be available as Arizona looks for help in other areas. While trading for Duke would be a shot in the dark for the Cubs, it might be a fairly cost effective one. Duke is only twenty eight. A trade for Duke could be one that benefits the Cubs for several years to come. Credit Luke for adding Duke to the list potential Cubs’ targets this season.
- Francisco Liriano– Call me crazy, but there is something that appeals to me when I think about Liriano. Obviously, the first thing that pops up in any one’s mind when talking about Liriano are the injuries. I don’t blame anyone for those concerns, Liriano has had his durability questioned because of the constant shoulder injuries. But for the most part, he has been healthy for most of the season. Granted his numbers are not overly impressive this season as he is 5-7 with an ERA of 5.06. The fact that he is only 27, left handed, and has ace potential should make the Cubs at least inquire on Liriano. The Twins have struggled for most of the season, and it will be difficult for them to get back into the American League Central race. Meaning they may look to move some players that they are not normally looking to move. Given the injury risk and mediocre season, it should not cost the Cubs too much to trade for Liriano.
First Base Targets
- James Loney– This is another “loot the poor” trade. He locks up first base for awhile, adds a nice mid-order bat, and brings some experience to what will otherwise be a young infield. Given the Dodgers’ problems, he could possibly be had for A level prospects, which plays directly into the strength of the Cubs system. The Cubs would need to put together a solid package, and I suspect that names like Austin Kirk, Nicholas Struck, Evan Crawford, and Justin Bour might come up in the conversations. To go off of Luke’s suggestion, Loney could be a realistic target for the Cubs. The Cubs put out preliminary inquires on Loney this past off-season, so, they may re-visit trade talks with the Dodgers.
- Billy Butler– Butler is young and a pretty good hitter, but he can only DH or play first, and first looks to be occupied for a long time in KC. They might be willing to move him, especially for guys who could help out in a major league bullpen in the next year or two. I’m not sure how good of a first baseman he is, but his offensive numbers look pretty good. The downside to Butler is that he could be expensive. Young quality hitters are not cheap, and I’m not sure KC would even be willing to move him. If the Cubs offered names like John Grabow, John Gaub, Scott Maine, and Rafael Dolis, I think Kansas City might at least be tempted to let Butler go. Credit Luke for suggesting Butler as a possible target for the Cubs.
- Chris Davis– I want the Cubs to revisit this one again, whether it is in July or in the off season. It looks like the Rangers could use another veteran name in their starting rotation. Carlos Zambrano is my first choice to dump, but it will be tough given his remaining salary. I would be open to eating some money, but nothing close to $10 million ($7 million at most). I’m not sure if that would be enough to do a deal straight up. I would be open to including Geo Soto if the Rangers think he will be an upgrade over Torrealba, but the Cubs front office would have to be certain that Castillo is their catcher of the future. I hesitate to
offer Ryan Dempster if the Cubs do indeed plan on contending in 2012 and after what the Cubs gave up to get Garza, I am not interested in dealing him. If the Cubs do not deal Ramirez at the deadline, Plan A for me would be buyout Ramirez for the $2 million and then try to resign him to a one or two year deal at far less money. Plan B is to trade for Davis and plug him in at 3B or 1B depending on what other options become available. According to the Rangers website he has also gotten some looks in the OF as they try to find ways to fit Davis on their Major League roster, but OF is not as big of a concern depth wise for the Cubs. Credit Joe for suggesting that the Cubs re-visit trade discussions with the Rangers regarding Davis.
Third Base Targets
- Hanley Ramirez– Florida trading Hanley Ramirez is not that far out there. Granted the Cubs would have to be willing to part ways with one if not two of their top prospects, Josh Vitters being one of them. But Ramirez and the Marlins organization have had a rocky relationship. Couple that with the fact that Ramirez is underperforming this season, and you could make the case for the Marlins trading the shortstop. At 6’3 and 230, Ramirez has the body to be a third baseman. Meaning he could solve the Cubs search for a third baseman before it ever begins. Ramirez is a .300+ hitter that is capable of hitting 20+ homers and stealing 20+. This may also be a good move in regards to Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro. Ramirez is one of Castro’s idols, and it would be exciting watching those two play next to each other in a Cubs’ uniform.
- David Wright–The Mets appear to have no money, and Wright has a big contract. He could fill in at third for the next six or seven years, and provide the RBI bat the Cubs are missing in the middle of the order. Since it would be a salary dump for the Mets, the price may not be too high in terms of prospects. He would be expensive, though. Unfortunately, he may not be healthy in time to be traded. He has been on the DL for some time now, and it would very risky to trade for a high dollar player like Wright until there is some solid evidence he will be healthy for the long haul. Still, if the Cubs offered to send back Fukudome’s much shorter contract along with a nearly-ready minor league third baseman like D.J. LeMahieu or Ryan Flaherty, I think these two teams might have the framework for a deal. It would very likely take more than that, but if Wright is healthy it would almost certainly be worth it. As Luke points out, the case can be made for both the Cubs and Mets to make a trade involving Wright.
- Michael Young– This is more of an off season idea. A disgruntled Young has been a popular rumor the last couple off seasons, so I am banking that those rumors will surface again this winter. Similar to the reasons for targeting Davis, Young would be an option for 3B or 1B if the Cubs can convince the Rangers to swap big contracts. For the Cubs, that is Alfonso Soriano. The difference in salary is $22 million with Soriano’s deal going into 2014 while Young is done after 2013. The Cubs would have to eat some money of course, but it will come down to whether the Cubs can convince the Rangers that Soriano is the power DH bat they need. Dumping Soriano of course opens up another OF spot (along with Fukudome’s departure) that can be filled by one or more of Colvin, Campana, and Brett Jackson. Joe’s suggestion would kill two birds with one stone, by trading Soriano and filling the Cubs’ third base need.
- Cleveland Prospect- A Prospect… not sure which one, and I’m not sure I care to be honest. Cleveland could stand to shore up their pitching and their outfield, and Dempster wouldn’t look bad in an Indian’s uniform. Nor would Randy Wells for that matter. The best candidate to go to Cleveland might be Fukudome, but I wouldn’t count out Soriano. They could use another slugger in that lineup, and Soriano might be the best one available. The Indians have a solid farm system with several pitching prospects to consider, and the Cubs have traded well with Cleveland in the past. If the Cubs are looking to add another young arm for their future rotation, Cleveland is a great place to start looking. If anyone knows minor league farm systems, it is our minor league reporter Luke Blaize. The Cubs should follow his suggestion and engage in trade discussions with the tribe.
- Pittsburgh Pirates Farm System- The Pirates find themselves in contention to the surprise of everyone. We saw last night that the crowds have come out to support the team now that they are winning. If the NFL does not get its CBA and act together by the start of the season, the Pirates could be all the city has until hockey season. The question will be where the Pirates feel their needs are, but curious to see if any of the Cubs on the trading block could peak their interest. It would also depend on the strength of their farm system and if there is anyone down there that would interest the Cubs. I am guessing that the Pirates system has not been great overall in the past decade or else it would not have taken them this long to be contending again, but the current success could also be a sign that the system rating is on its way up. To go off of Joe’s suggestion, there have been speculation that the Pirates could have an interest in catcher Geovany Soto. The Pirates do have several “stud” pitching prospects in their system, that should be to the Cubs liking.
- A San Francisco Giants Player- The Cubs have spent a lot of time scouting the San Francisco Giant this month. We are talking about the heavy hitters, the top scouts within the organization. The Giants have yet to express interest in any of the Cubs catchers, so a trade involving Soto or Hill does not seem likely. Meaning the Cubs must have their sights set on a certain player or possibly a bad contract for bad contract deal. The most rumored deal between the two teams has always been Barry Zito for Soriano. The contracts are identical, so to some degree it would make sense. I also wonder if the Giants would be willing to part with Jonathan Sanchez in the right deal. Sanchez is currently on the 15 day disabled list, but he should be back before the trade deadline. Sanchez would be an ideal left handed starter for the Cubs rotation. However, I would imagine the Giants want to trade Zito and not Sanchez. Making it more likely that a Soriano for Zito deal could happen.
So there you have it, that is the wish-list that Luke, Joe, and myself have come up with in regards to potential targets for the Cubs at the trade deadline. Do like our list of potential targets, or do you feel there is a target out there that is not on the list above? Feel free to leave suggestions and we will discuss who the Cubs should target as the deadline nears.