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Rumor season always presents me with at least one delicate balance to maintain. On the one hand, injuries on other teams provide opportunities for the Chicago Cubs – who’ve been “sellers” for a few years now – to unload tradable pieces at a premium. On the other hand, it’s rather déclassé to dance in celebration at the injuries of others.

So, with the Washington Nationals suffering back-to-back serious catcher injuries (Wilson Ramos tore his ACL, and Sandy Leon badly sprained his ankle), it’s natural to want to talk about the possibility of putting together a Geovany Soto trade. Let’s just try to keep some of our eagerness out of it.

Anywho, the Nationals totally need a catcher. Yes, Jesus Flores can be a serviceable fill-in, but on a team with surprisingly strong playoff chances in an exceedingly tough division, it’s hard to see them settling for “serviceable.” Might they come calling about someone like Geovany Soto?

Maybe. On the surface, it makes some sense. The Nats need a catcher, the Cubs have a theoretical glut of catchers, and the Cubs might not want to keep Soto beyond this season anyway. But there are problems.

First, there is the Steve Clevenger injury problem. I mentioned this very issue back when Clevenger first went down with an oblique strain/cartilage break, but with Clevenger out, the Cubs haven’t had a great chance to see what they would really have without Soto. Welington Castillo hasn’t hit overly well, and has obvious issues behind the plate. Clevenger was hitting well, but how much of that was legit, and how much of it was being a young guy who hasn’t yet been exposed?

Second, I’m not sure that Soto is actually a good fit for the Nationals, all things considered. Part of Soto’s value in trade is that he’s under control through 2013. The Nationals, on the other hand, are probably just going to be looking for a one-year fill-in, on the assumption that Ramos will be back for 2013. Maybe Soto could become a back-up at that point, but he’d be an extremely expensive back-up (in his final year of arbitration, Soto, who makes $4.3 million this year, could make as much as $6 or 7 million if he’s tendered a contract).

Finally, we have to consider how much Geovany Soto’s early season struggles have damaged his value. The struggles come on the heels of a 2011 season where Soto was still valuable, but was nowhere near the elite-hitting catcher he had been the year before. If Soto’s value is at its lowest point right now, do the Cubs take whatever deal they can get from the Nats (matching the Nats’ desperation with their own), or do they hope he starts hitting again and try to deal him in July?

… or do they not deal him at all?

Ultimately, if the Nats were interested, it might just come down to what the Cubs think about this season. It’s awfully early to give up your starting catcher, and hope that two young, unproven, and possibly hurt catchers can carry the load without the pitching staff disintegrating.

At the same time, it’s not as though the Cubs are a lock to keep playing like they have been the last few weeks, and, if Soto continues to struggle the rest of the year, it’s not like the Cubs will view him as a long-term building block. Heck, at 29, the Cubs might already be viewing Soto as a guy to be gone come 2013. If so, don’t you trade him whenever you can get an acceptable deal?

That day may already be here.

  • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

    If Washington is reluctant on Soto because they expect Ramos back next year, then they may still be interested in Castillo.  I’d not be surprised if both names have come up a time or two in conversations.

  • Ben

    I don’t give him away, but if the Nationals are willing to part with a high risk/high reward type prospect, that might be worth it. We don’t need anyone like Lannan or Wang. We have enough SP depth for this season. Otherwise, I am happy to hold tight to him. He has a good bit of defensive/pitcher handling value even if his offense is lagging behind.

    • terencemann

      I don’t think the Cubs need any more Michael Burgesses or Abner Abreus from the Nationals. I’d rather get someone like another Michael Bowden if we are selling low on players.

    • Brady

      What we need is relief pitching. Not even great relief pitching just not shitty.

  • Carew

    I feel bad for those two, especially for Ramos…but i would like to see Soto gone. Hes infuriating

  • Bails17

    Give me a couple of guys that look like Dolis for Soto. I am all in!

  • CubsFanBob

    Keep Soto. IMHO a catcher that can call / catch a good game is far more valuable than his offense and I can guarantee Soto will be heating up over the next few months to meet his season averages. I just dont trust Castillo behind the plate. Really bad timing on Clevenger going out. He seems very solid behind the plate in his limited time.

  • TWC

    Koyie Hill’s spidey sense is tingling…

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Could have taken that joke in a crass direction involving fingers and tingling. Kudos to you for taking the higher road.

      • TWC

        As a fellow member of the Mangled Hand Club (table saw chapter), I limit my Koyie Hill criticism to his terrible, horrible, no good, very bad baseball playing.

        • hansman1982

          as much as I want to get a table saw and take up woodworking as a hobby, the more and more I hear about table saws the more I think they should be banned.

          • Fishin Phil

            As a puppet, I am very much opposed to table saws.

            • Mike Foster

              ROFLMAO

            • Ron

              Opposed now, but what about all those puppets that are yet to be…born?.

          • TWC

            Three things:  Use the blade guard.  Don’t remove the blade plate.  And if you can ($), get one of these.

            • hansman1982

              wow, ya, looks like I may need to save those extra $$$ to get that. I have had a run-in with a circular saw previously (entirely through my own stupidity) and thankfully there was no damage beyond a flesh wound (and not of the Black Knight kind)

              Amazing what technology can do. Seriously, even if you aren’t a woodworking fan check out the sight and watch the video. They use an actual finger to display the amazingness of the system.

    • CubsFanBob

      While I am no K.Hill defender check out these stats from this article over at Bleed Cubbie Blue ( hands down I would take a catcher that catches / calls a consistent good game over anything else a catcher can provide )

      http://www.bleedcubbieblue.com/2011/12/12/2632053/koyie-hill-nontendered-chicago-cubs

      2011: 22-16
      2010: 24-36
      2009: 42-27
      2008: 1-1
      2007: 17-8

  • Cubs Dude

    I am a little skeptical about trading Soto. Castillo looked pretty bad behind the plate, and hasn’t proven he can hit at all in the mlb. I loved Clevenger hitting in his short stint, but he didn’t look great behind the plate either and looked to have a weak arm. (I only saw him briefly though).
    I would be nervous to have either of them as the starting catcher next year at this point.

    • Njriv

      Well maybe we need to build that spot stronger through the draft or if we find our selves in contention sooner, maybe we can plug a veteran in that spot either through trade or free agency, we don’t need home grown players on all spots of the roster.

      • Cubs Dude

        I feel like if we trade Soto, catcher is a spot that would need addressed in free agency. So who knows what you can get.. Soto isn’t a bargain at $7mill by any means, but at least you know he can handle the staff and call a good game, with occasional pop and on base skills.

  • Patrick

    Soto for Lannan?

    • terencemann

      Hahah, yeah. That’s what we all want. I think the point is that it won’t happen with Soto’s season going how it’s going and given the role the Nationals would be looking to fill in any trade.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      And then do what with Lannan?

      • Patrick

        Well assuming Dempster gets traded and Volstad continues his horrendous season, Lannan would be a good fit. 2 years ago he was the ace of the Nationals, he can Definately be a solid 4-5 pitcher

  • Ron

    But Soto’s advanced stats say….I mean his BABIP is….he’s just been unlucky. Anyway if memory serves his bat is what made him “elite” hasn’t his defense and game calling always been considered average?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Yes.

      • Ivy Walls

        In fact for all the disgust the last two years about K Hill, his winning percentage was better than Soto’s—game management.

        • hansman1982

          it would be interesting to see all of the factors of Hill’s games. For example, the Cubs 6-8 starters last year (Davis, Russell, Lopez) got something around 2 runs less support than the front 3, thereby nuking any chance they had at being successful unless they only allowed 1 or 2 runs.

        • Drew7

          or coincidence. There are way too many variables (See Hansman’s post) to say the record was a result of “game management”.

          • DocPeterWimsey

            Didn’t Hill preferentially catch Garza through a lot of last season?  Tim McCarver must have looked like a catching god in 1972, when he was Steve Carlton’s personal caddy.

  • Yohler

    Catching is a thin market in MLB, so plugging in a veteran isn’t a likely option. I’m open to the possibility of trading a backup and developing another. There is no heir apparent to Soto, and I doubt they solve one problem and create another.

  • Ivy Walls

    Two items simultaneously. “The phone call is always going to be returned or answered.”—meaning what the Nat’s (or TB or anyone else are offering Cubs will be listening; now accepting is another question altogether). It appears that all the hype around Castillo is just that, usual Cub minor league hype while the truth is that Clevenger is the real deal, though now injured. It is May 15th and within 10 games or so Clevenger will either start rehab or begin playing rehab and it is then that the timing comes to the forefront.

    In my book trading Soto is not about addition by subtraction but opportunity for multiplication.

  • truebluecubbie

    As much as Soto infuriates me, trading him at this point would be very unwise. I don’t know a whole lot about who we have in the minors for catchers, but are any of them ready to be on the big league club? Would any of them be better than Soto is right now if they are ready? I say wait until at least the deadline before we should even consider moving him.

  • Mick

    Yep, Soto’s got to go. Maybe Washington would be willing to give up Lombardozi if we also threw in Barney?

  • KCubsfan

    The Nationals have a LHP in AA named Dan Rosendaum that Would be interesting for the Cubs.

  • http://bleachernation.com lou brock lives

    Rosenbaum is the correct spelling & Mike Rizzo – GM of Nationals – is not an idiot. It will take more than Soto to get this lefty from the Nationals. Throw in Cardenas or Vitters & you might have a deal.

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