July 10, 2012; Kansas City, MO, USA; National League player Bryan LaHair (6) of the Chicago Cubs before the 2012 All Star Game at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley/USA TODAY Sports via US PRESSWIRE
Chicago Cubs first baseman Bryan LaHair has been the feel good story of the season in Major League Baseball, or at least for the Cubs at least. The 29 year old LaHair spent most of his seasons in the minor leagues prior to the 2012 reason. LaHair was once a top prospect within the Seattle Mariners but after struggling in limited playing time at the Major League level with the Mariners, Seattle gave up on their former top prospect.
The Cubs swooped in and followed the cliche saying that goes one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. LaHair has certainly turned into treasure for the Cubs during the 2012 season, or at least for the first half. LaHair, who was elected to the National League All-Star team, hit .286/.364/.519/.883 for the Cubs in the first half of the season to go along with 14 home runs and 30 RBIs.
Though, there was a chance that LaHair may have missed this opportunity. During the off-season when the Cubs were linked to multiple free agent first basemen such as Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder, a number of teams from Japan contacted the Cubs asking if they could have permission to speak with LaHair. At one point, it seemed likely that LaHair would be able to sign a contract with one of the interested teams in Japan. Nonetheless, Cubs president Theo Epstein supported LaHair and was confident that the first baseman should be able to receive the chance to play everyday for the Cubs. Which is why LaHair remained the starting first baseman to open up the 2012 season, even after the Cubs acquired Anthony Rizzo earlier in the off-season.
But, now the Cubs have Rizzo playing first base and LaHair has been shifted to right field. With prospects like Brett Jackson and Matt Szczur making their way through the Cubs ranks, it won’t be long before LaHair is forced to give up his position to one of the Cubs top prospects. Especially when you consider that Albert Almora and Jorge Soler are both considered to be prospects that are expected to move through the Cubs’ farm system rather quickly.
With this in mind, the Chicago Cubs may look to trade LaHair prior to the July 31 trade deadline. That could in fact be what the team is planning to do. Jayson Stark of ESPN tweeted on Thursday that executives that have spoken to the Cubs this week have heard LaHair’s name be brought up regularly. The fact that the Cubs are bringing up LaHair in trade discussions clearly indicates that team is shopping the right fielder and may look to trade him before July 31. The reason a team would want to trade for LaHair is because while he is only 29 years old, he has yet to go through the arbitration process as 2013 would he his second pre-arbitration year. Meaning LaHair is a cost controlled left handed power threat that could help a contending at either the first base or right field positions. Though, that very same reason is the reason why the Cubs may want to keep LaHair.
As for teams that could be interested in LaHair, take your pick between the Los Angeles Dodgers, Toronto Blue Jays, Cleveland Indians, New York Yankees if they decide they need some help in the outfield while Brett Gardner recovers from an injury, or the Baltimore Orioles have been looking for a designated hitter and have been linked to Alfonso Soriano.
The Los Angeles Dodgers would be an interesting team for the Cubs in their efforts to find a suitor for LaHair. Remember, that the Dodgers are widely believed to be the team that acquires Cubs starting pitcher Ryan Dempster. Dempster alone would likely be enough for the Cubs to acquire the Dodgers top prospect in pitcher Zach Lee to go along with two or three other prospects. But if LaHair were to be added to the deal, then the Cubs would likely be able acquire 4 to 5 prospects from the Dodgers including Lee.
LaHair’s feel good story could very well have a new chapter with a new team before the story reaches it’s concluding chapter.