[Usual rumor caveats apply – I trust this source, but you can never be 100% sure about these things. Still, you’re all big boys and girls, and you can evaluate the information for yourselves.]

The Washington Nationals are taking a tour around baseball, looking for a possible upgrade in center field, according to Ken Rosenthal. With Rick Ankiel, a platoon player at best, currently manning the spot, and club officials undecided on the future of AAA outfielder Roger Bernadina, it’s understandable that the Nats would be considering an upgrade.

That’s where the Chicago Cubs come in.

A Major League source informs me that the Cubs and Nats have “had discussions” about Cubs’ center fielder Marlon Byrd. With top prospect Brett Jackson tearing up AA, and with the hope that Jackson is the future in center field for the Cubs, the team is willing to consider moving Byrd in the right deal. Byrd, 33, is off to a slow start, with a mere .658 OPS through 16 games. Still, he is solid defensively, and was an All Star last year. Byrd is in the second year of a three-year contract, and is making $5.5 million this year (with easy incentives that should push that figure to about $5.6 million) and $6.5 million next year.

It’s unclear what the Cubs would be seeking in return, though it’s unlikely they could expect a haul of prospects. Two possible names are first base prospect Tyler Moore and pitching prospect Brad Peacock. Neither is considered a big-time prospect.

Moore, 24, was a 16th round draft pick by the Nats in 2008, and had an .873 OPS last year at High A. Peacock, 23, was a 41st round pick by the Nats in 2006, and has worked his way through the Nats’ system, reaching AA last year, where he was just so-so. For his minor league career, Peacock sports a career 4.41 ERA and 1.337 WHIP, primarily as a starter.

The Cubs and Nats have a recent history of putting trades together after the two sides came together this Winter on the Tom Gorzelanny deal. One thing I don’t know is how far talks have progressed – whether they are simply exploratory in nature, or whether the two sides are actually in negotiations. These kind of discussions probably happen dozens of times throughout the season and we simply don’t hear about them (and nothing ultimately happens). So, odds are, nothing happens (I know, how convenient).

Still, it’s the kind of rumor that makes a whole lot of sense.



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