As a reminder, the purpose of the Lukewarm Stove is to bring you all relevant/interesting rumors, no matter how tenuously related to the Cubs or how unlikely. And with that solid setup, we break a couple rumors.
First, a source indicates that the Cubs may be readying to shop center fielder Marlon Byrd. Moving Byrd makes some sense for the Cubs who are looking to clear both salary and a spot in the outfield for youngsters Brett Jackson and Brandon Guyer. Byrd’s contract runs through 2012, and his salary escalates to $5.5 million next year, and $6.5 million 2012. He’s also one of the few Cubs under contract who can be freely traded, and is coming off a solid year at the plate (and excellent in the field). The Braves have been mentioned as a possible destination in exchange for “young pitching.”
Second, the Cubs continue to work with the Padres on a possible Adrian Gonzalez deal, and have been discussing involving a third team, possibly the Rangers. Josh Vitters would almost certainly be included in the deal, but the two sides are having trouble finding common ground on the other pieces without including a third team.
If the Red Sox land Justin Upton, who’s been made available by the D-backs, they will bow out of the Adrian Gonzalez sweepstakes, says the source. That would make the Cubs the leading contenders.
Of course, Gonzalez’s recently-cut shoulder makes a trade that much more dicey. Jayson Stark has this to say:
Even if Adrian Gonzalez had no health questions, it was probably only about a 50-50 shot that the Padres were going to trade him this winter. But Gonzalez’s recent surgery to “clean up” the labrum area in his right shoulder downgrades those odds considerably — at least for now.
Gonzalez told the San Diego media corps this week that he should be ready to play by the end of spring training. But other clubs are hearing talk that he won’t even swing a bat until March. So that’s not what you’d call a great incentive for teams to charge in there in the next few weeks and trade three big-time prospects for this man.
“I think that complicates this for them [the Padres],” said one front-office man. “And it’s got to be a concern for any team. They can always keep him and trade him at the deadline if they’re out of it. But suppose he starts slow. & Then it gets even harder for them to get a real return.”
But if the clubs floating this talk think it means they have a shot to get Gonzalez on a discount, uh, good luck. You can expect the Padres to argue that this wasn’t a serious injury or a serious surgery, that Gonzalez was healthy enough to start every game after July 3 and that, given the kind of dollars he’ll be chasing next winter, it’s a stretch to question either his health or his motivation as heads into the biggest season of his life.
Nevertheless, we’d bet this won’t be the last time you hear about Adrian Gonzalez’s labrum between now and his first multi-homer game.
It is certainly rare that team’s trade a bounty for players who are recovering from surgery (question whether we can call this “major” surgery), but plenty of diligence can be done on the success of the surgery, the rehab plans, and the player’s eagerness to return. To the later data point, given that Gonzalez could cash in big time with a good 2011, I’m thinking the motivation will be there.