Chicago Cubs: A look at Spring Training trade proposals
Spring Training is not only a time to get players in shape – it’s also a time to see what you have and what you need. This year, more so than those in recent memory, the Chicago Cubs have a few pieces that seem likely to be on the move in the semi-near future.
Travis Wood and Welington Castillo seem to headline that list more often than not – and with that in mind, we’re going to take a look at an MLB.com piece written by Jim Duquette that offered a take on six players that could be moved this spring. Of those half-dozen names, two stick out to me – and could make valuable additions to the Cubs’ roster.
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While much of the attention this winter has been focused on the Philadelphia Phillies’ Cole Hamels, fellow left-hander Cliff Lee could be dealt, as well. Any veteran with a big contract that a team may have interest in seems to be on the table.
Hamels – as noted – has been the biggest name rumored and linked to the Cubs this winter; and also has a very large price attached to acquire his talents. Lee could be different. He’s coming off a 2014 season that limited him to only 13 starts due to an elbow injury. That might scare some teams off – but it also could mean the cost will be lower to trade for him. One issue other than his health that would have to be worked out is his contract.
Lee has a very large contract with two years left on it. This season he is owed $25 million – the second year is a team option that could fetch up to $27.5 million if Lee were to pitch 200 innings in 2015.
With most hefty contracts, a stronger return means the team looking to shed payroll is willing to eat a larger portion of it. But like the Cubs have had to do in the past with Alfonso Soriano and Carlos Zambrano – sometimes you have to bite the bullet and just take what you can get and eat the money. If the Phillies were that determined to move Lee, he could be had for a very good price.
Lee may not be the pitcher he was in 2008, when he was 22-3 and won the Cy Young award with Cleveland – if healthy, he still has a lot to offer a team like the Cubs. He would be another solid veteran pitcher to add to the rotation. He could easily be plugged into the third spot then moving Jason Hammel and Kyle Hendricks to the fourth and fifth spot. That would make the Cubs rotation as good as anyone in the National League not named the Dodgers or Nationals. I could see the Cubs trading someone like Dan Vogelbach, Corey Black or Victor Caratini to the Phillies in a package to land the veteran left-hander.
The other name on that aforementioned list that I found even more interesting is right-hander Dillon Gee. Gee is much younger than Lee but hasn’t had near the same level of success. The Mets are chock full of young pitching in their farm system – which could be why Gee is available.
They need certain players to make their team a contender in the NL East – namely a shortstop (hence the endless banter involving Troy Tulowitzki). I’m sure they would love to be able to get ahold of one of the prized shortstops in the Cubs’ system, but it will take a lot more than Gee to even get the Jed Hoyer or Theo Epstein to pick up the phone. They also need a long-term fix at first base. This is where a player like Vogelbach could be used as a potential trading chip.
Gee may not win a starting job with the Mets – which then will land him in their bullpen. If that happens, the price could drop considerably and teams like the Cubs may have a higher level of interest.
In five years at the big league level, Gee has a 40-34 record with a 3.91 ERA and 1.288 WHIP. While the win-loss record isn’t anything that will get your attention – his earned run average is impressive considering the park he pitches in the majority of his time.
Either one of these guys would help solidify the starting rotation. While the Cubs do have their own options to consider – you can’t ignore what could be available in the trade market. Lee brings experience and another left-handed arm to the table. If healthy, he could be a difference-maker for a contending team. Gee is a younger option that may need the right team to prove what he’s worth. He won’t get that now with the Mets, but in Chicago – he could get that opportunity.