Even though most baseball insiders suggest that Kosuke Fukudome will be the only Cub traded this week, that does not mean that the Cubs are not trying to trade some of the big-contract players on their current roster. Considering Aramis Ramirez has no intention to waive his no trade clause before Sunday, in addition to trading Fukudome, the Cubs may be putting most of their focus on trading starting pitcher Carlos Zambrano and left fielder Alfonso Soriano. That is no different from the past two seasons, but this time, the Cubs are putting their money where their mouth is in an attempt to trade one if not both of them.
For weeks now, we have been hearing that chairman Tom Ricketts is willing to absorb majority of the approximate $64 million remaining on Soriano’s contract in order to trade him. Jon Heyman of Sports Illustrated reported today that the Cubs are “offering to pay big bucks” in order to trade Zambrano or Soriano. Also in the tweet, Heyman had a quote from an official that said the Cubs would have to pay 95% if they wanted to trade either one. That is obvious exaggeration on the part of that baseball official. As long as the Cubs are willing to take on at least $50 million from Soriano’s contract, they should be able to find a trade partner. Considering Zambrano still has value and top of the rotation potential, the Cubs would not have to take on 95% of his contract to trade him.
Interest in Soriano has dwindled in recent weeks. Reason being he has struggled considerably in July, hitting .171 with 1 home run and 8 RBIs. Even with the Cubs willing to absorb the money necessary to trade him, it was unlikely that they would find a suitor. Now, considering his recent struggles, it is hard to see a team taking the risk even at the discounted price. However, there still is a strong possibility that this will be Soriano’s last season as a member of the Chicago Cubs. Tom Ricketts may have reached his breaking point with Soriano, and the Cubs chairman may be willing to release him after the season.
In comparison to Soriano, it would be far less difficult for general manager Jim Hendry to trade Carlos Zambrano. Unlike the aging Soriano, Zambrano is five years younger, and still is capable of being one of the premier players at his position. Though, those abilities have not been on display this season. In 20 starts this season, Zambrano is 7-5 with an ERA of 4.70 and a WHIP of 1.42. Despite Zambrano’s struggles, there are plenty of teams that have a need for starting pitching, and Zambrano would be an improvement for some of those teams that need starting pitching.
The important thing to remember in either of these potential trades is that the Cubs are not looking for anything in return. These would be the true definition of a salary dump. The reward for the Cubs would be getting from underneath the horrid contracts of Soriano and/or Zambrano.