The non-waiver trade deadline is just five weeks away, and with the Chicago Cubs 14 games under .500 and 10 games out in the NL Central, the time has come to discuss a deadline strategy.
Unsurprisingly, that strategy is going to involve dumping expensive pieces to, hopefully, save some cash and stock up prospects and young players for next season. Front office personnel and organizational scouts are expected to meet early next week – Monday and Tuesday – to put together a plan.
General manager Jim Hendry and assistant GM Randy Bush will preside over the two days of meetings. Hendry’s objective will be to give the scouts direction as the team looks to acquire new players or move some off the present 25-man roster.
Hendry will talk to his top scouts about which teams the Cubs might match up with best as far as trades. The Cubs have a number of players with big contracts that not all teams could or would absorb.
Obviously, the players the Cubs would most like to trade – Alfonso Soriano, Carlos Zambrano, and Aramis Ramirez, for example – would also prove the most difficult. Not only does each have the right to veto a trade, but all are considered (1) expensive, (2) older, and (3) declining.
More likely trade options include first baseman Carlos Pena, outfielders Kosuke Fukudome (if the Cubs eat enough of his remaning money and he doesn’t exercise his limited no-trade clause), Marlon Byrd and Reed Johnson, infielder Jeff Baker, and reliever John Grabow. The Cubs might also listen to offers for Ryan Dempster and Carlos Marmol – perhaps even Matt Garza – but there has been no indication that the Cubs would be interested in trading any of those three.
But things can change rapidly this time of year. Monday and Tuesday’s meetings are merely the beginning of what may prove to be a simultaneously exciting and depressing month for the Cubs.