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Yesterday, I wondered openly why Chicago Cubs’ center fielder Marlon Byrd – who was once the frequent subject of trade rumors – wasn’t coming up lately as teams scramble to add a bat before the deadline.

With Carlos Beltran and now Hunter Pence off the market, why wouldn’t a team be interested in Byrd, who is playing great defense, is as productive as ever, and is under contract relatively inexpensively through 2012?

Well, it sounds like the Braves might be interested. From the Atlanta Journal Constitution:

The Braves were among a handful of teams pursuing the most-coveted hitter on the trade  market, Houston Astros All-Star outfielder Hunter Pence, but he was traded to rival Philadelphia on Friday night for a package that included the Phillies’ top hitting prospect and top pitching prospect.

The Astros’ asked for two of the Braves’ “big four” pitching prospects, a group that includes Julio Teheran, Arodys Vizcaino, Randall Delgado and lefty Mike Minor. The Braves wouldn’t include Mike Minor in a deal for three-month rental Carlos Beltran last week, and refused to part with two of those arms in a deal for Pence.

The Braves also have had discussions with the Chicago White Sox about outfielder Carlos Quentin, whose 20 homers and 62 RBIs would be team-highs for Atlanta. But the Sox are in a tight race in the American League  Central and might hang on to Quentin.

There are less-expensive corner-outfield options the Braves have considered, including San Diego’s Ryan Ludwick and Oakland’s Josh Willingham.

They’ve also discussed to varying degrees several center fielders including Astros standout Michael Bourn (though he bats left-handed), enigmatic Tampa Bay talent B.J. Upton and the Chicago Cubs’ Marlon Byrd.

You can almost undoubtedly set aside any dreams you might have about the Cubs landing one of those big four pitching prospects (unless the Cubs included more than Byrd), but given Atlanta’s need and Byrd’s value, a decent return is more than plausible. But, keep in mind, as noted in the article, the Braves do still have a number of options.

The bigger question, perhaps, is whether the Cubs would deal Byrd. Given the Kosuke Fukudome trade, and the Cubs’ open desire to be rid of Alfonso Soriano, would the Cubs really risk entering 2012 with an outfield of Tyler Colvin, Brett Jackson, and “Question Mark”?

These, however, are the kinds of deals the Cubs need to be strongly considering today and tomorrow. Teams aren’t going to come calling for the Cubs’ castoffs – they will only want valuable players, and those are the same players the Cubs might want to keep.

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