Now that my frustration with the inept general manager of the Chicago Cubs, Jim Hendry, has subsided since yesterday’s embarrassment at the trade deadline. We can all holdout hope that Hendry will be able to pull off some trades in August to make up for his lack of movement at yesterday’s deadline, though personally, that will not suffice for the Cubs’ inactivity at the deadline. Having said that, here is a look at what the Cubs could do during the month of August.
Before we dive into the rumored trade targets, lets first recap the rules of waiver-trades during the month of August. Starting last Thursday, teams were allowed to begin putting players on trade waivers. While on trade waivers, a player would have to be passed up by all 30 teams before he can officially clear waivers and be eligible to be traded. However, if a player is claimed, one of three things will happen within the next 72 hours after the claim: 1) The team that currently has control of the player can simply let him go to the claiming team, 2) The two teams can try and work out a trade in that 72-hour window, or 3) the team in which the player is already on can simply take him off of waivers.
The Cubs stand in good position when it comes to August trades. Considering the two players that the Cubs want to trade, Alfonso Soriano and Carlos Zambrano, hold bloated contracts it is likely that both will clear waivers. In Zambrano’s case, I would watch the New York Yankees and Chicago White Sox. The White Sox stood pat and watched the Cleveland Indians acquire Ubaldo Jimenez, and Detroit Tigers land Doug Fister and White Sox general manager Kenny Williams may look at Zambrano if Jake Peavy continues to be hampered by his re-occurring shoulder issues. The New York Yankees fall in a similar boat, as the bottom half of their rotation could be what keeps them behind the Boston Red Sox. The Yankees tried feverishly to land Wandy Rodriguez, but were unwilling to take on the majority of the remaining $38 million on his contract. I found that rather interesting, considering that the Yankees could have had Zambrano for next to nothing. If their rotation continues to struggle, and Wandy Rodriguez does not become available again, then the Yankees may settle for Zambrano.
Trading Soriano may be far more difficult than trading Zambrano. Unlike Zambrano, the diminished production by Soriano has severely limited the amount of teams that would be interested in acquiring the veteran left fielder. When Soriano was still productive on offense, many speculated that he would be a perfect fit for an American League team as a designated hitter. But Soriano’s struggles this season reached a new low in the month of July when he hit .186/.205/.337/.542 and the
only has seven home runs since April. For that reason, Soriano probably will not be moved this month and chairman Tom Ricketts may pull the plug on Soriano’s contract this winter when he decides to release the overpaid outfielder.
Another intriguing name is Carlos Pena. Buster Olney of ESPN reports that Pena has a good chance to be moved as a salary dump, considering the first baseman is still owed $5 million next January. Most of the the post-deadline reports going around from all the beat writers seem to agree that the Cubs were shopping Pena, and since they never were presented with a satisfactory offer, they were not inclined to move the free agent to be. The same may hold true this month. The Cubs are not going to move Pena as strictly a salary dump, the only way they move Pena is if a team presents an offer with a package of prospects that the Cubs feel are better than the ones they already have in their farm system.
This may also be the official time to start the Aramis Ramire trade watch. Despite the constant back-and-forth that went on about whether or not Ramirez would waive his no trade clause, it was believed that the Cubs third baseman would not approve a trade in July because of his family. Though, Ramirez’s agent and Ramirez himself have strongly hinted that the veteran would waive his no trade clause and accept a trade in August. Ramirez has been one of the top offensive third basemen this season despite his slow start, and is believed to have significant value on the trade market. The Los Angeles Angels did not make a move yesterday, and Ramirez was high on their wish-list. You would have to imagine that the Angels will be monitoring Ramirez’s status closely this month.
I would expect some peripheral players to be moved this month like John Grabow and Reed Johnson, but the only way the Cubs can still be successful in the trade market this season is if they find a taker for Ramirez, Soriano, or Zambrano.