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[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.

  • Kenny L.

    That would be awesome.

  • Garrett

    Not sure if I understand this. Why not try to move one of the players who is actually eating salary like Soriano or Fukudome or Pena which would make room for a player who we know can actually hit (and deserves to play) at the major league level (Colvin) instead of gambling on a AA prospect?

    I agree he is under-performing for a 3 hole hitter, but it’s not his fault the Cubs can’t find anyone better for that spot. Byrd in the 2 or 6 whole would be great. I like him, I really do. We just have bigger problems.

    • Sam

      Brett jackson is one of, if not the top positional player prospect in baseball. I would love to see him on the cubs. If byrd was traded fukudome would play CF and colvin would be in RF.

    • Keith

      Garrett – your questions make sense and I am sure the Cubs would love to move Soriano or Fukudome but who is going to take them? Soriano has one of the ugliest contracts in baseball history and Fukudome isn’t worth his weight in sushi after April. Pena is a one year stop gap and is at an all time low for a trade with his start.

      I think trading Byrd makes sense (and I love the guy and his attitude as well) but the fact of the matter is that we are LONG overdue for a youth movement and overhaul of this club. I would rather have some painful years as our youngsters mature than to keep trying to piece meal this club together.

      Doesn’t it pain you to see the the Nationals are looking to upgrade a spot since they are now contenders?

  • roughriider

    It’s way to early to be considering a trade such as this. While Jackson appears to be doing well so far, it is too early and it is AA. If everyone hitting well in double A was ready the Cubs would have two each centerfielders and third basemen and a first baseman ready. They aren’t. Everyone on that team is hitting well so it may be just that the pitching hasn’t caught up yet. Also Byrd has more value than what is proposed.

    Likewise it is too early to give up on Pena and as for Sorriano, he is leading the team in homeruns and RBIs.

    • last_ginger

      Being a good clubhouse guy and hustle can only get you so much. Hitting .196 with RISP and having trouble covering ground in the OF makes this trade a no brainer.

  • Michigan Goat

    This would be a smart move if we can get some quality prospects and MLB ready arm, Fuk and Sori would get us nothing in return. I love Byrd’s attitude and professionalism but we have a glut of outfielders right now and Jackson almost ready in the minors. Yes Byrd will be missed and our team will be weaker but it’s time to get 2012 in our vision.

  • Jeff

    Fukudome and Soriano aren’t going anywhere. There are 4 guys playing 3 spots, and the clubs top positional prospects is tearing it up in center field at the top of the order, Marlon Byrd is not playing well. It would be better to strike while the iron is hot with Byrd. If they wait until Jackson is up to deal Byrd, everyone will know they have to trade Byrd and his value will be shot. He is a legitimate center fielder with a solid bat as long as he doesn’t have to carry the load, so he should bring a decent return. I wouldn’t want to see him traded just for the sake of trading him, but I also don’t wish to see him hang around all year with a .500 ball club while we all watch Quade try to get 5 outfielders playing time in August and September.

    • Michigan Goat

      Well said… I think there are plenty of teams that would take a quality hitter with great presence for two years, I just fear Hendry trading for a bag of balls so he can say he was preparing the team for 2012 and giving Colvin playing time. I hope he can find a quality 1B or 3B prospect

  • pfk

    I’m sure Byrd will be gone by the trade deadline but he’s worth a whole lot more than 2 average prospects. I’ll miss him because he’s a good guy, hustles and is a good hitter in non clutch situations. Soriano isn’t going anyplace and Colvin is the heir apparent in right. So, we need a space for Jackson, which is in center.

    • pfk

      The problem in all this is that we still don’t know if Colvin can hit well enough to play right. I’d hate see Byrd leave and then we find out next year that Colvin just can’t hit in the Bigs. I think he can but he needs to be in the lineup every day.

      • Hogie

        The catch 22 is that that wont happen until one of the outfielders is gone.

  • pfk

    To get an idea of just how weak the middle of the Cubs middle of the order is (3,4,5)…The Cards trio has 11 HR and 32 RBIs; the Reds have 6HR and 26 RBIs and the Brewers have 10 HR and 39 RBIs. The Cubs trio has 1 HR and 16RBIs; Ramirez has the poorest stats of any cleanup hitter and Byrd/Pena are at the bottom. So, as much as we praise Ramirez, he’s not close to the other cleanup hitters. We could use an upgrade all across the middle of the order.

    • buzzamus

      Ramirez is actually off to a descent start. His average is ok, but the problem is the team as a whole is batting poorly with RISP. To say the Cubs only have 1 home run compared to other teams isn’t nearly as important as it sounds. The wind hasn’t been flowing favorably for hitters at Wrigley yet and it shouldn’t matter if RBIs are coming from home runs, or singles and doubles, as long as the runs are being brought in.

      • pfk

        Well, if you read my post, it says and shows that the RBI’s aren’t coming either. Fact is, the middle of the order isn’t producing. Yes, Ramirez’s average is OK but he’s not driving in runs like he should. And, neither Bryrd or Pena are driving in runs either. Wind or no wind, the Cubs are dreadful at driving in runs – especially if they are in scoring position.

        • buzzamus

          I did read your post. I said as a team we weren’t hitting with runners in scoring position. I agreed with you. I Was just noting that the homers were a bit misleading in that department. Especially since the Brewers are in a much better environment for hitting homers right now.

          • pfk

            OK, got it. It should also be noted that not only are the Cubs 3,4 and 5 hitters last among the 4 contenders in the division in HRs and RBIs, but the Cubs on base percentage for the 1 and 2 holes is the highest among the 4 teams. This further magnifies the clutch hitting problem. We are setting the table just fine – in fact better than anyone – but we aren’t bringing them home. We are last in that department.

      • Joe

        “To say the Cubs only have 1 home run compared to other teams isn’t nearly as important as it sounds. The wind hasn’t been flowing favorably for hitters at Wrigley yet”

        They have played 7 games at home compared to 9 on the road. The team as a whole has hit 0.71 HR/G at home so far against a total of 0.91 HR/G at home last season – it isnt a very big difference when considering the small amount of time played there so far. In fact, the team is only 1. 4 HR total off their home 2010 average.

        Then, think about where they have played when on the road – Colorado, Houston and Milwaukee. Hardly like playing in SF, LA and SD, you know. And when at home, who did we face? The amazing staffs of the Pirates and Diamondbacks…

        So how about we do that; lets just factor the teams faced so far. Our opponents have a playing-time adjusted HR/9 ratio of 1.0 right now, while Ramirez/Byrd/Pena have had 192 PA – enough for about 7 games worth of playing time. Considering the teams we have played have given up 1 HR/G against the theoretical average player, the three should have at least 7 HR combined at this point if they were even merely Average. Instead, they have 1.

        Or let’s really put it into perspective here. Ramirez/Byrd/Pena have 1 HR in 192 PA. Our #9 hitters have 1 HR in 62 PA.

        The combined total of the three would already be fairly embarrassing if it came from our 7-9 hitters. Its flat out pitiful from a 3-5…

        As far as the RBIs… Well, everyone outside those three have 46 RBI in 422 PA, or about 1 every 9 PA. Ramirez/Byrd/Pena have 16 in 192 PA, good for one every 12 PA – while following the 4 hottest OBP guys on the club each and every time! (Fukudome, Castro, Baker and Barney -in that order- are all top 5, with Ramirez himself being 3rd)

        • buzzamus

          My whole point is it doesn’t matter how the runs are scored, whether through singles, doubles, or home runs. People seem to take home runs as the end all stat and sometimes it is annoying. Case in point: people think Castro should bat third and I agree, but he isn’t a home run hitter. Are we going to complain if he doesn’t hit home runs there? Not if he drives in runs like we think he can.

          • Keith

            Joe – Great post and well done

          • Ace

            These are good points.

          • Joe

            well they cant drive in runs *or* hit dingers; and that’s the problem.

            In fact, above I quoted the RBI rate of everyone, but that unfairly includes the pitchers. Here are those three against the other non-pitchers (while stats are still pre-today here)

            1 RBI per 12 PA – Ramirez/Byrd/Pena
            1 RBI per 8.5 PA – other positional players

            then, of course,
            1 HR every 192 PA – Ramirez/Byrd/Pena
            1 HR every 38 PA – other positional players

            That said, they have (ever so slightly) produce more 2B (1 2B per 16 PA against 1 per 21 for everyone else) to this point. But luckily, they have done a fantastic job of making sure they dont inadvertently knock anyone in while doing it…

            And honestly, its not that they are horrible players or anything and its bound to get at least a little better then this – but wow, have they ever SUCKED to this point. Really, so far we would have been better off using Baker, DeWitt and Johnson in their places (those three are at, before today’s dinger, 1 HR per 52 PA and 1 RBI per 6.3 PA with a slightly higher R/PA as well)

        • Ace

          So many good comments, so this isn’t just to Joe – but yeah, what he said.

          • Larry

            Ace,

            If and when the Cubs are actually ready to trade Byrd, is there any chance that the Rangers might want him back since Hamilton is out? Would they take Byrd and send us Chris Davis and maybe an arm in return?

            • Ace

              Eh, probably not, due to the short-term nature (well, not short-short, but not season-ending) of Hamilton’s injury, and due to the financial commitments owed to Byrd this and and next year. It’s not a ton, but the Rangers are going to have to be writing some big checks in the near term.

              Davis is a guy the Cubs would probably love to have, though, given that he can play the corners in the infield.

  • loser

    way to make up a rumor byrd is going nowhere

    • Wickit

      Most rumors don’t go anywhere. If you listen to MLB radio or interviews from GMs, you would know GMs take 1000s of calls about players and only about .5% of those go pass the 1st call. If they start talking players maybe 5% we hear about and less then that ever get done.

  • Cheryl

    Byrd is the ultimate professional. If the right deal with the Nationals is there they should take it. If Colvin doesn’t work out, the Cubs have other prospects so Colvin is the least of the Cubs worries. They must be talking about other prospects as well and another team may pop up who has better prospects. Hope it works out.

  • Chuck

    I would like to see Byrd dealt this year. I like him as a player, but I just don’t see his value for the Cubs. Ideally, they would get some good prospects for Byrd, a bucket of (used) balls for Fuku and let Jackson and Colvin play everyday in the bigs to see if they will be the long-term solution in the outfield. It’s time for a youth movement in Wrigley and Byrd is one of a few players the Cubs can move to bring in more talent.

    • Michigan Goat

      I think we might be able to get some prospects for Fuk, IF and only IF we eat his contract, which would be worth it IMO… we’re going to pay for him anyways, might as well let the kids play for an extended time so we can know what to do in 2012

  • Chuck

    Also, Brett Jackson could slide right into your lead-off spot and allow Castro to move down to the 3 hole. I like this youth filled lineup for the rest of 2011 (even if you only win 70 games):

    Brett Jackson
    Barny
    Castro
    Ramirez
    Pena
    Soto
    Soriano
    Colvin
    Pitcher

    • Michigan Goat

      Colvin needs to be hirer if we are going to evaluate his long term potential, I say flip Pena and Colvin

  • KB

    Brett Jackson is nowhere NEAR being the “best positional prospect in baseball.” Let’s just clear that up right now.
    This would be a 100% salary dump, if Ace’s trade guys are the ones actually being discussed. Are we hoisting the white flag on the season already?

    • Jeff

      I think that had to have been a typo, he is the best position prospect on the Cubs though.

      I don’t want to see Byrd salary dumped, but come June and July, if the Cubs are .500 or worse and not showing much life, Byrd is the only outfielder that has positive trade value. It’s more of a positional dump, than a salary one. If they made the trade and got some good prospects, I wouldn’t see it as a white flag, considering that Byrd has 4(make that 5) rbi’s batting behind the two guys who have been on base more than any other leadoff guys in baseball. RBI’s may not be a tell all stat, but when your 3, 4, and 5 guys have twice as many runners LOB as they do runs batted in, something needs to change.

      • pfk

        Well said.

    • Ace

      Dumping Byrd is far from signaling the end of the season. Brett Jackson could very well outproduce Byrd, not to mention the increased at bats for Colvin/Fukudome. *could.*

  • Bric

    I was thinking Byrd would be on the market, just not this soon. Out of the two prospects speculated on in return, my guess is it will indeed by Peacock. Two reasons: Hendry simply refuses to address the needs of the corner infield spots and if you are either a pitcher or an outfielder he’ll want you (especially if you have a gay sounding or unspellable last name): Examples: Pie, McNutt, Samardjia, Theriot, Fontenot, etc.

  • http://None Blinda

    I saw that the Nats wanted an upgrade in center and thought of Fukudome right away. He’s on the last year of his contract of course we should trade him away that gets rid of the platooning outfielder situation and maybe we could get a couple solid prospects or a good reliever out of it and lose some salary.

    • Ace

      That would be fine with me, but I imagine they view Byrd as a better defensive CF than Fuk.

  • pfk

    Just watching the game today and I hate to say this but Pena is as bad as Koye Hill with the bat. And, like HIll, this is not some slump, as he is hitting his normal average. He is a lifetime .240 hitter, He hit .247 in 2008, .227 in 2009 and .196 last year. So, it is no surprise that he is hitting .200 this year.

    • Michigan Goat

      Agreed time to put him in the 8 hole and seriously why not split his time with Jeff F—in Baker, this is proof that Hendry is pulling strings about who plays

    • Ace

      He’s been bad, sure. But if he gets the OBP around .370 and the SLG around .450, it’s all good in my book, regardless of the .200 – .220 average.

      • pfk

        The only measuring stick in my book for a 3rd, 4th or 5th place hitter is RBIs. I don’t care what you hit or any other number. If you are constantly leaving runners on base in scoring position, you could be hitting .400 and it wouldn’t be worth a darn. There are plenty of hitters who bat .250 but are incredibly clutch. They hit when it counts.

  • TSB

    I recall a couple of games where Billy Martin put the starting players’ name in a hat, and formed his batting order at random. If we are not getting any production out of the 3,4,5 spots, why not go crazy, and move the current 3,4,5, players to 6,7,8. Not only would this shake up the Cubs, but it would also cause opposing teams to get out of their game plan.

    • Bric

      Anarchy- I like your thinking. Acording to the Mayan calendar we have ony two years to get to the series anyway.

    • Ace

      Can’t say I disagree at this point.

  • Pingback: Marlon Byrd Trade Rumors Begin? « Cubbies Crib | A Chicago Cubs Blog()

  • CubsFanatic

    Why do this? Seriously. I don’t get why they would trade him unless it was an upgrade. But in all honesty, unless its a prospect, who would be an upgrade?

    • Hogie

      I think the idea is to make room for Jackson, our #1 position prospect.

      • Ace

        And to save some money – which, I know, is not everyone’s favorite consideration, but it’s legit.

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