I suspect that most of the scouting the Chicago Cubs are doing these days are on the minor league level. After all, the Cubs are expected to be sellers at the trade deadline, so, in theory, the majority of what they’ll be looking to acquire will consist of minor league prospects.

But, that doesn’t mean the Cubs might not also be looking to pick up some big league pieces – either in a bad contract swap, or in the form of a younger player whom they can add into the fold for the next few years.

To that end, it looks like the Cubs have been scouting the San Francisco Giants – and not just the kind of advance scouting you do before playing a team (indeed, the Cubs don’t play the Giants again until the last series in August). According to the Giants’ beat writer for the San Francisco Chronicle, Hank Schulman, the Cubs had a “top evaluator” in town to watch the team on Tuesday night.

Schulman is quick to caution that he’s not heard anything about discussions with the Cubs, but points out that the Giants might have interest in one of the Cubs’ big league catchers – Geovany Soto or Koyie Hill.

Obviously the Giants have had a void at catcher since Buster Posey was blown up at the plate earlier this year, but Soto and Hill seem like odd choices for the Giants. With respect to Soto, as a guy under control for a couple more years after this one, and one who is roundly considered one of the top catchers in the NL, he doesn’t make for much of a half-season fill-in. Sure, he’d be as good as they could get, but they’d have to pay through the nose to get him. Unless the Giants plan to turn around and trade Soto after the season or to move one of Soto or Posey from behind the plate next year, Soto seems like a really expensive piece to acquire. As for Hill, is he (.640 OPS) really that much of an upgrade over Eli Whiteside (.654 OPS)?

If catchers aren’t to be the subject of discussion between the Giants and Cubs, could the teams be working on something more exotic? Perhaps an over-the-top contract swap involving guys like Alfonso Soriano, Barry Zito and Aaron Rowand? Not likely says a ML source (though Rowand was in the starting lineup on Tuesday).

The Cubs are almost certainly sending “top evaluators” all across baseball these days, so it’s probably not wise to read too much into one game. Still, it’s interesting to hear that the Cubs are devoting some of that time to scouting ML teams, rather than just prospects.

To get the rundown on all of the pieces the Cubs might trade, including Soto and Hill, check out the cheat sheet on rumors and tradability I put together earlier this week.

  • die hard

    any trade with Giants may have to be three team that involves American league team so Soriano can DH

  • Jody

    Bring on Matt Cain!!!

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Ha. I almost made the same joke (for those playing at home, Cain started on Tuesday).

  • http://www.frenchrocks.net Ian Afterbirth

    So do top evaluators need to buy tickets to these games? Are they guests of the league/team? I’m just curious….

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      That is actually a really interesting question. My guess is that all teams let all other teams send folks whenever they want (unless the latter team is trying to do it on the DL), and they make accommodations for them. Otherwise, you couldn’t get a seat at a sold out game.

  • De Jesus to Trillo to Buckner

    Wasn’t Fukudome to the Giants a rumor at one point in May/June?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      There was a really hot rumor about it back in December, and there may have been a slight uptick early this year, but it’s died down. The Giants have a glut of mediocre outfielders (though I suppose they might want one who hits from the left side).

  • CBP

    They have a hole at first base, they lack a true run producer. MLB tv said don’t be shocked if they have interest in they stated a couple names then said Carlos Pena would be a great fit at 1st. He could help make a difference. My question now is does Pena fit in good with San franciso? Which isn’t a great hitter ball park like wrigley.

    • EQ

      Here we go… trade Soriano, Pena, Soto, Ramirez, Marmol, Byrd and Dempster & cash to the Giants for Matt Cain, Arron Rowand and Brian WIlson.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        Just wouldn’t happen. It probably does improve the Giants, but that’s too many moving parts for a GM to wrap his head around.

        • EQ

          Yeah I know, I was trying to be a little tongue and cheek with that one..

          • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

            Sorry. My sarcasm-detector is on the skids this morning.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Huff’s been sucking, but they paid him a lot of money this (and next) year. Wonder what they’d do with him if they picked up a rental like Pena.

  • chris margetis

    I know that Buster Olney said the worst contract in baseball currently is a tie between Adam Dunn and Zito, but is there anyone here (if memory serves the years match up correctly) that wouldn’t take an even up swap, Zito for Soriano?

    • http://twitter.com/thomaswconroy TWC

      In a heartbeat. Zito may suck, but James Russell/Ramon Ortiz/Doug Davis he ain’t.

    • MichiganGoat

      I’d take that deal

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      The Cubs would be insane not to take that deal. They’d save some money, and add a decent 5th starter – while opening up an upgradable spot in the outfield.

      • EQ

        Love it … very great idea.. having openings on both corner outfield spots gives a lot possibilities to build around.. let’s just hope Hendry’s gone or we’ll end up signing Juan Pierre and Austin Kearns to fill those spots.

    • Fishin Phil

      Zito only sucks every 5th day, Soriano sucks on a daily basis.

    • Michigan Goat

      Let’s take a look at the numbers for a Zito-Soriano swap:

      From Cot’s Baseball Contracts:

      Zito: 11:$18.5M, 12:$19M, 13:$20M, 14:$18M club option ($7M buyout)

      Soriano: 10-14:$18M annually

      This means we would mean after this year Zito is due 64.5M through 2013 (including the 2014 buyout) and Soriano is due 72M through 2014. The Cubs would have to include cash to make this happen since the Giants would have to take on an additional 8M and an additional year to take Soriano…would we take that deal? No!

      The other issue is that both have complete NTC, and Zito is a West Coast guy… Would you leave your home not to mention the sun.

      It’s a nice idea but I just don’t see how it would happen unless we took on another bad contracts of the Giants.

  • chris margetis

    I figured the sentiment would be resoundingly “for” the trade.

  • chris margetis

    I think if I were the Cubs, I’d throw in part of the extra $$$ as pitching is always at a premium as evidenced by the salaries of very marginal pitcher. Plus, I’m pretty sure at this point Zito would love a change of scenery. In addition in the off season, he lives in L.A., not in the Bay area. I live in L.A. and would happily spend my summers in Chicago and winter here.

  • Mike

    Soto for Brandon Belt:-)

  • Cheryl

    How about Pena and Soriano for zito and Huff with a little cash thrown in?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      The concept makes a lot of sense, but the problem from the Cubs’ perspective is Huff in 2012. He’s likely to be less productive than Soriano (which is kind of sad) or whatever first baseman the Cubs might add in the absence of Huff. So it means they’re taking a sure-fire downgrade at one of those positions in 2012.

      • Cheryl

        If Pena is traded alone, would the Giants be willing to give up Huff and a quality minor leaguer? If Huff is declining and the Giants need someone to take them over the top then they may part with someone that will help the cubs long term, perhaps a quality minor league pitcher.

        • Michigan Goat

          I think the Giants would love to give up Huff for Pena so that Minor leaguer better be a a top prospect, before it makes sense to have Huff around for 2011.

          • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

            Yeah, I’m thinking the Giants would have to toss in a very good prospect if they wanted no money changing hands.

  • CBP

    What about Soriano and Grabow for zito of course cubs throw cash towards the giants way