Spring Training trades are relatively rare, as teams tend to want to see what they have internally by the time March rolls around. Plans have been laid, and there’s no sense in blowing things up based on a handful of relatively meaningless games.
There are, of course, a couple of prominent exceptions. First, where a serious injury occurs, a team may look to make a move in Spring. Second, there are always a number of smaller moves at the end of Spring Training as teams realize they won’t have room for a player whom another team might want.
And then there’s the very rare good-player-traded-because-he-just-is kind of trade (ok, sometimes that kind of trade is paired with an injury trade). Given the Cubs’ wealth of starting pitchers (relatively speaking), they could be in a position to make this kind of trade.
Chicago Cubs GM Jed Hoyer isn’t ready to concede that the Cubs will move one of their starting pitchers (they’ve got six (or seven, if you include Rodrigo Lopez) guys who could easily slide into a number of rotations around baseball, and obviously they’ve got room in the rotation for only five) at the end of Spring Training, but he’s not ruling it out, either. From the Sun-Times:
“In theory, on paper, you’re right,’’ Hoyer said of the trade opportunity the perceived luxury of depth [in the rotation] creates, “but things usually have a way of working out that way. I think we do feel good about starting pitching depth.’’
Still, Hoyer said, a trade in these final two weeks before the season opens is possible. The Cubs could use another proven reliever, and they have just enough depth in a few position areas to use in trades.
“I think every team probably looks at [possible late-spring upgrades]. Those conversations will really heat up among teams the last 10 days or so,’’ Hoyer said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if we made a move. But I also think we have the pieces that we wouldn’t need to.
“We’ll certainly be active in those conversations. I don’t think we’d be doing our job if we weren’t.’’
I’m sure the Cubs will be happy to listen to offers on, for example, a guy like Randy Wells. At the same time, as excited as folks might be about Jeff Samardzija’s switch to the rotation, it’s not hard to imagine it not working out. And, then, if you’ve dealt Wells, you’re just one injury away from having both Lopez and someone like Casey Coleman in the rotation. Those were two of the back-end guys last year whom we rued so vocally.
But, if a team gets desperate enough … for example, the Boston Red Sox, after moving Daniel Bard back to the bullpen, could be left opening the season with two huge question marks in the four and five spots in their rotation (picking two from a group including Alfredo Aceves, Aaron Cook, and Felix Doubront). (H/t to Craig on Twitter for the link.)
That is, of course, just an example. And it’s just a sell-side example – the Cubs could just as likely make a move of their own to pick up a player, though, as constructed, it’s hard to see where they’d be looking to add, except maybe the bullpen.
The rumor mill might be kicking up for a bit.