Reed Johnson Takes Center Stage In Cubs Trade Focus
The Chicago Cubs have had an interesting month of July. The team entered the month with the idea that they would be able to get a haul of prospects for both starting pitchers Ryan Dempster and Matt Garza. Though, we all know how those two scenarios have played out. Dempster has essentially nixed a deal that would have sent him to the Atlanta Braves for young pitcher Randall Delgado. By doing so, Dempster indicated that the only team he would accept a trade to–no questions asked–is the Los Angeles Dodgers. Though with all of baseball knowing that, the Cubs and Dodgers have been in a stalemate as the two sides know that the Cubs do not have any leverage.
Meanwhile, Garza was expected to net the Cubs a far better package than what they would have presumably received for Dempster. But, now it would appear that Garza will not be traded. Garza has been sidelined for the past week after dealing with right triceps cramping. The cramping has since subsided for Garza, but there still is some fluid left in Garza’s elbow. For that reason, the Cubs decided to push Garza’s next start back until after the trade deadline. The trade deadline is this Tuesday, and that is also the day that Garza’s wife is expected to deliver the couple’s fourth child. Garza will throw a bullpen session on Monday, and there may be scouts in attendance to see how the pitcher performs while throwing off a mound. Though, at this point, it would seem unlikely that Garza will be traded before the Tuesday trade deadline.
So while trade talks with Garza and Dempster have stalled over the past couple of weeks, the Cubs front office likely are working on a few other deals to be completed before Tuesday. One of them could very involve starting pitcher Paul Maholm. But with all the talk about the Cubs looking to trade three of their five current starting pitchers, there has been little talk about the position players that could be traded before Tuesday. Teams have inquired on left fielder Alfonso Soriano, but the chances of Soriano being traded are still minimal at best. There is, however, one position player who will likely be dealt before Tuesday.
That player is fourth outfielder Reed Johnson. Johnson is having another impressive season as the Cubs fourth outfielder as the 35 year old is hitting .307/.358/.452/.809 this season with the Cubs in 166 at bats. Johnson is exactly the type of veteran position player that teams love to have for the stretch run of the season. The issue with players like Johnson is that while their value to a team is unquestionable, it does not result into much of a trade value.
Nonetheless, teams such as the Tigers have expressed an interest in Johnson. The Tigers have been connected to Johnson for the past two weeks, and it would seem that they are the front-runners to land the veteran outfielder. Johnson, if not a player to be named later, will likely net the Cubs a fringe prospect.