Jayson Stark Says the Cubs Will Have Trouble Trading Anyone Except Kosuke Fukudome

The Chicago Cubs may have interest in trading a number of players on the roster, but it’s not going to be easy. Many have no-trade rights; others have expensive contracts; and others still might figure into the Cubs’ future plans.

For those reasons, among others, ESPN’s Jayson Stark concludes that the Cubs might not be able to trade anyone this week except Kosuke Fukudome.

For only the fourth time in the past 40 not-so-glorious years, the Cubs piled up 60 losses in their first 100 games. So you don’t need to be a descendant of Ernie Banks to know they’re sellers this week. But it now appears possible they might not be able to sell off anybody but Kosuke Fukudome — not this week, anyway.

Aramis Ramirez? Won’t approve a deal. Ryan Dempster? Same scenario. Carlos Zambrano? Ditto. Kerry Wood? One exec says he was told Wood is only getting traded if he goes to GM Jim Hendry and asks out, and that’s almost certainly not happening. Alfonso Soriano? Still has $60 million coming through 2014, so good luck on that.

Bullpen arms? They’d prefer to keep them all, with the possible exception of John Grabow. Reed Johnson? They’re listening, but this guy makes $900,000 and wouldn’t figure to bring them much back. So what’s the point of moving him?

Carlos Pena? One exec who spoke with the Cubs says the level of interest in him has been exaggerated — and he’s a guy they believe they can get through waivers and trade in August, when there’s a lot less money left on his $10 million contract.

So who’s left? Fukudome. That’s who. It’s the last year of his contract, and he isn’t expected back. The Cubs would like to deal at least one outfielder, to clear roster space for Brett Jackson and/or the return of Tyler Colvin. And they’ve had several hits on Fukudome (who does have a limited no-trade clause) as a bat off the bench who at least has good at-bats (.374 OBP). So he’s likely to move this week. As for the rest of this crew? Uh, not so much.

Stark is undoubtedly right that dealing Kerry Wood, Carlos Zambrano and/or Ryan Dempster is not going to happen. But, to be fair, we’ve known that for weeks. We’ve also known that trading Soriano would be the longest of long shots.

As for Reed Johnson, Stark is right that the value received in trading him could be quite low given his productivity and contract, but I have to ask: what good, exactly, does it do the Cubs to keep him? Ticket sales in the Reed Johnson fanclub section? With Byrd and Soriano around, even if Fukudome is traded, Johnson still isn’t going to get a ton of starts (presumably one of Tyler Colvin or Brett Jackson would come up to play in the outfield regularly (that is to say, they freaking better)).

On Ramirez, it’s been a back-and-forth affair with respect to his no-trade rights, but everyone now seems fairly confident he’s not going anywhere by July 31. Which, of course, is a sizable bummer given what the Cubs could get in return. But, it’s his right, and he’s earned it.

As for Carlos Pena, while Stark might be right that there isn’t as much interest in him as we would hope, he’s wrong about Pena’s contract. Five million bucks – a full 50% of his salary for 2011 – isn’t to be paid until January 2012. In other words, if a team wanted to claim him on waivers in August, they’d be paying him a shade over $6 million for two months of work. Pena will clear waivers if he’s still around in August.

Brett Taylor is the editor and lead writer at Bleacher Nation, and can also be found as Bleacher Nation on Twitter and on Facebook.

39 responses to “Jayson Stark Says the Cubs Will Have Trouble Trading Anyone Except Kosuke Fukudome”

  1. Serio

    That sounds about right

  2. Toosh

    You’re right. Also, obviously there will be less money left on Pena’s contract if he’s traded after the 31st, but not a LOT less.

  3. Blinda

    All year they have been talking about trading marlon Byrd. What happened?

    1. hardtop

      didnt he go 4 for 5 the other day and 2 for 3 the day before that? there has to be a bunch of teams who need a hustle guy who can hit .300. im sure they are getting calls. question is, can hendry put somethign together thats worth while. he’s relatively cheap so it wouldnt hurt the cubs to keep him… so im sure it would have to be a decent player involved in the exchange. any teams out there with more pitching than they can handle that want harvey byrdman attourney at law?

  4. Daily Notes | Bullet Time | Fantasy Baseball Hot Stove

    [...] Jayson Stark says the Cubs will have trouble trading anyone not named Kosuke Fukudome [...]

  5. Toosh

    The White Sox, 2 games under .500 and 4 and a half games out of 1st place, are selling already. Hendry and the Cubs?

  6. EQ

    It shouldn’t surprise anyone that Start, or Stark isn’t totally correct in the contract issues with Pena… All ESPN pays attention to is the NFL, Lebron & Kobe, and the Yanks & Red Sox..

  7. Fishin Phil

    This is the time of year that I try very hard not to believe anything. All the sport writers do is speculate. Every front office in baseball tells lies this time of year. Hell, I don’t believe half of what Brett says. ;)

  8. Caleb

    I’m going to start chiming this in every now and then, but I might as well start now. Get used to seeing this.

    Pena goes now in a trade or at the end of the season.

    I like his defense, power (June —-> power, anyway), and influence on the team, but really: he’s not that good.

    For serious. I’ve had a suspicion that he was an average player being payed 10 million a year for a long time now, but I just spent 20 minutes not-working and looking up his stats. All of the usual stats point to him being average (check CBS stats and sort by NL first basemen) and it gets worse when you go to baseball reference.com.


    And, for all the talk about “upside” (I still have no idea what any of you are talking about) that I see in the comment sections here, where is this upside for Pena? He’ll be 34! Is he a decent first baseman? Sure- for quite a few reasons. Will the Cubs essentially get what they paid for and expected? Pretty much. Should this be the guy we want going forward? Nope.

    No upside. Where’s the upside? I want more upside.

    And someone PLEASE tell Pena that he is in the top-ten for 1B salaries- in all of baseball. Oh, and that he makes 2.5 million more than Joey Votto. kthanks.

    1. Kyle N

      I completely agree with Caleb here. I had a similar post at the ready, but he pretty much touched on everything I was going to say. In fact, I’ll go a step further and ask if Pena was really worth the $10 million.

      He has a .774 OPS and ranks 10th out of 14 qualifying first baseman. The players above him include the superstars (Pujols, Votto, Fielder) and a bunch of younger low-price talents. (Morse, Murphy, Sanchez) Again, $10 million seriously gets you a .774 OPS?

      And for all of the talk about his good defense, a couple of sources beg to differ. Baseball-Reference has him at a -0.5 dWAR and there are others who consider him overrated with the glove. Does anyone have any other advanced metrics sources that defend his glove?

      It was clear we weren’t getting the Carlos Pena of 2008 (someone should file a missing persons report on THAT guy), as his numbers have come way down since then. Instead, we got a guy trying to do his best Dave Kingman impersonation, with maybe a bit more patience.

      Yet here comes the articles about how Carlos Pena is such a great guy, cracking jokes with his infield mates and the guys on the pitching staff. Seriously. . . with all of the talk around the boards about the “scrappy” hustle and good clubhouse presence not meaning anything (despite the unknown hypotheticals I argued earlier), can we PLEASE apply the same criticism to Pena? He seems like a great guy, but the truth is he flat out stinks this year and is making $10 million.

      If he is traded, his .774 OPS would serve only as a backup first baseman/part-time DH in the American League. And with the deferred money he is owed, which teams would commit to taking on most of that salary on a two-month rental?


      1. Kyle N

        Carlos Pena’s best year was 2007. Sorry about the typo.

  9. Jamesjones

    I was at the Cubs/Sounds game in Nashville on Monday. Met and had my picture taken with Colvin and Jackson. Colvin was very chatty and a nice guy. Jackson was nice but very shy. BUT. I hate cowbells at a baseball game.

    1. Hogie

      I went to an I-Cubs game and Colvin didn’t even glance in the direction of the kids waiting with his playing card. He actually walked out of his way to avoid passing them on the way to the dugout!

      Class act

    2. Ron

      Fellow Nashville poster?

      1. Jamesjones

        Actually, a bunch of kids called out to Colvin and he walked up to them and signed their baseballs. Real nice guy making conversation and what not. I take it that Hogie’s recollection could be due to him having a bad day.

        Thank for the “more cowbell” Brett. Ironically enough I think it says something about cowbells not being allowed on the Nashville Sounds website. Yet it sounded like someone was hearding a lot of Cows through Greer stadium. Sigh.

        Ron, Im actually from Cookeville. About 80 miles east of Nashville.

  10. die hard

    keep team as is because Wells will be ready to step up and work Cashner in as reliever next year…convert Smardja to starter cause he now has two good pitches….with infield then set and outfield set, should at least be .500 with Quade better after having full yr under belt…I am serious and sober….got a hunch thats all….

    1. Hi Mom!

      First getting rid of the She-View, now thinking the current team is anything but terrible……Got any more great ideas Jim Hendry…I mean die hard?