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.