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Man, oh, man. Usually the trade rumor season doesn’t really heat up until late June, or at least after the Draft at the very earliest. But I guess when your team is as bad as the Cubs have been, and is clearly in the middle of a rebuild, the rumor season can start considerably earlier. So it has been this past week, and the latest installment came from Buster Olney on Mike and Mike this morning.

Olney dropped something of a bombshell when he said that the Chicago Cubs have already been “exchanging ideas” with other teams when it comes to a possible Ryan Dempster trade. Indeed, Olney went so far as to say that Dempster will “probably” be the first high profile name to change teams this Summer, and it “wouldn’t surprise [him] at all” if the trade came in the next few weeks. Obviously the sooner the Cubs trade Demspter, the more value he’ll have (more starts for his new team).

Olney went on to discuss one possible destination for Dempster, the Boston Red Sox, noting that they are right back in the AL East race, and Theo Epstein knows the Red Sox’s system well. I call that a “superficial fit,” but I’m sure the Red Sox will be in the market for a starting pitcher this Summer. Olney, you’ll note, made no mention of Dempster’s no-trade rights.

There were some other relevant bits over the last 24 hours or so from a variety of sources…

  • About the 2012 trade season, generally, Theo Epstein had an optimistic take for the Cubs: “We’re starting to get some early calls now. There might be fewer sellers than usual and a lot more buyers. This has a chance to help us. We need core players.” Good to hear. Also interesting? Epstein is explicitly saying that the Cubs are sellers. Already. And that’s fine with me – how long has it been since someone at the top just leveled with us?
  • Jon Heyman says the Yankees would prefer Matt Garza over other available starting pitchers on the trade market this Summer, but the Cubs are likely to try once again to extend Garza before trading him (Heyman describes prior talks between the Cubs and Garza as not fruitful). This rumor will get its own write-up, but I thought I’d pass it along now while I was doing the Lukewarm Stove thing.
  • Danny Knobler says the Cubs have told teams they’re willing to eat as much as $45 million of the $48 million they owe to Alfonso Soriano through 2014 if that’s what it takes to move him. I’ve said for months the best the Cubs could hope to do would be to save a few million bucks, so it sounds like that’s now the case. Even with Soriano’s hot May, and even if the Cubs do eat $45 million, I wouldn’t expect more than a decent prospect with obvious flaws. *Maybe* the Cubs could squeeze a player from a team’s top 15 prospects.
  • Phil Rogers agrees with me that Matt Garza’s recent struggles are putting the Cubs in a bit of a pickle when it comes to the extend/trade/do nothing decision. Phil says the Cubs are more likely to trade Garza than to sign him long-term, but might end up doing nothing in July (that’s been his colleague Paul Sullivan’s position, too). (The article also includes a purely speculative discussion of Alfonso Soriano going to the Indians, where he could fill in for injured DH Travis Hafner. Maybe. But the Indians also have Johnny Damon, who could stand to spend some time at DH.)
  • Doug Padilla chatted yesterday, but it was light on rumor-type-things. There were really only two bits: (1) Doug says a Garza trade is more likely than a Soriano trade, but neither are likely; and (2) it would take an absurd offer for the Cubs to move Castro. The chat was interesting otherwise, though.
  • MLBTR’s Ben Nicholson-Smith also chatted, and offered some thoughts: (1) Ben wouldn’t be surprised if the Tigers inquired on Ryan Dempster; (2) there might be a fit there with Soriano and the Indians; and (3) Ben could see the Red Sox reaching out to the Cubs about Garza.
  • The Phillies and Cole Hamels haven’t made much progress on extension talks, according to Buster Olney. One NL executive said that there’s no reason for Hamels not to test the free agent waters at this point unless the Phillies give him a record deal. The Roy Halladay injury is not expected to impact the Phillies’ talks with Hamels, for what that’s worth.
  • Jon Heyman took an early look at 45 players who could be traded by July 31, and a number of Cubs
  • Leroy K.

    Where is the Jon Heyman convo?

  • FromFenwayPahk

    “one possible destination for Dempster, the Boston Red Sox, noting that they are right back in the AL East race” True. Last place but only three or so games out.

    But what do the Red Sox have that we would want? Lavarnway? Melancon? I don’t see it.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      For Dempster, the Red Sox have plenty of prospects worth considering. Garza would be a slightly tougher fit.

    • Cubs Dude

      I say screw trading with the Red Sox, they’re cheap bastards. The whole Theo knows their system thing is way overblown. I am sure they know Theo knows their farm system too.. Lets trade more prospects with the Padres, and see if they are willing to give up anymore future all stars for hard throwing set up men. I like trading with them..

  • Kyle

    Do it already. I’m bored with this season. Let’s get on to the deadline deals, draft and call-ups.

  • http://bleachernation.com lou brock lives

    Dempster to Bosox for 3B / 1B – Travis Shaw would work out well for Cubs & Red Sox who are knee deep in third basemen in their system. Shaw is kicking ass in High A ball after only one year in the minors. Good size, good power, & good eye at the plate. Could possibly move to LF if Lake or Vitters or Baez win job down the road.

    • Cub Style

      If you want a 3B, go after Cecchini.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Like his numbers, but he’s pretty much only playing first base this year – is that because of 3B depth, or because they don’t think he can play 3B?

  • Stephen

    Hurumph Kyle!
    I’m draft and trade hungry!!

  • Leroy K.

    Thanks guys!

  • Martin

    With the Dodgers looking for pitching (and with Colletti being their GM), I wonder if there might be a match there for Dempster. Webster or Eovaldi might be interesting. Zach Lee might be too much, but would be worth asking about.

    • Cub Style

      Just as long as they’re not from Tim Wallach’s loins.

  • Cubs Dude

    What sbout packaging Garza and Dempster together to a team and paying this years salary for both? That would truly bring elite top prospects. Turner, Castellanos, Smyly for Demp, Garza, and Vitters. That would turn Detroit into the bigtime favorite this year.

    • Cub Style

      That’s not an effective way to maximize value nor is that a good trade offer.

      • Cubs Dude

        Well Personally, I don’t think Garza himself is going to bring back elite prospects either considering his salary and 1 yr. left of control, so I thought combining them may take it to the next level to get studs back. But I could be off… Wouldn’t be the first time. haha.

        • Cub Style

          Turner’s value has been kind of shot this season, at least to date, because of bad K and walk rates. I’ve been a bit wary from the beginning of him anyways.

          In all honesty, that package would probably just fetch Garza at this point.

          • Cubs Dude

            really? i would do that deal in a heartbeat if i was the cubs. I love Smyly and Castellanos. I know turner has stuggled, but still has a great arm. With Vitters gone they could move Lake to AAA.

            • Cub Style

              Castellanos is great, the only reason not to love him would be his K rate. It’s come down so far this season from the almost 24% last season, but it’s still a little bit worrysome.

              Smyly definitely has good secondary stuff and superior control. He’d definitely be a safe pickup in any Detroit trade, though he’s not going to be our ace.

              • The Show

                I hope there is someway we can get Smyly in a Dempster deal.

                • Cub Style

                  He’s not a guy I think Detroit would be hard pressed to move. He doesn’t have stellar upside, but he does have that high floor. I think he’d be the guy we’d get back in that deal.

          • Crockett

            Cubsstyle – you vastly underrated the value of Castellanos. Best hitter in his league this year as one of the youngest players? Untouchable, I’m thinking.

            • Cub Style

              It’s no secret that he’d be the prime piece in any package with Detroit with Turner’s stock falling, but that being said Castellanos does have his problems. I’m not sure he sticks at 3rd and I’d still like him to shrink those strikeout rates.

              • Crockett

                He’s 20. At high-A. And you’re the first person say anything negative about him at 3rd. Every single scout piece I’ve read says “above-average” to “great” defense at 3rd. I feel you’re blowing smoke.

  • http://bleachernation.com lou brock lives

    Two catchers worth watching tonight as College World Series begins its regional play. First round high pick from Florida Mike Zunino vs. Bethune Cookman on ESPNU & Purdue catcher Plawecki – a late first or possible second round pick will be on Big Ten Network vs. Valpo.

  • Mike S

    Garza to Boston Red Sox for Will Middlebrooks and Matt Barnes? I know it wouldn’t be as cut and dry as that probably, but if Nicholos-Smith sees Boston as a possibility, Middlebrooks would be that “Impact” player the Cubs would want and Barnes is a big Right Handed power pitcher with a lot of control (54 IP 7bb/78k).

    I could definitely see Boston as saying that that is TOO much for Garza, even though he has a proven track record of success in the AL East.

    Thoughts?

    • Jeremy

      Middlebrooks is untouchable as the Red Sox are trying to trade Youklis. Barnes and Bryce Brentz would be where I would start with the Red Sox for Garza.

    • DocPeterWimsey

      It would be more probable that a trade with the Sox would be some 3-way deal sending Youk to another team and prospects from that 3rd team to the Cubs.  Middlebrooks figures too prominently in the Sox ’12 plans for them to trade him.

      • Jeremy

        It could make a guy like Gavin Cenchinni available though. He’s a pretty solid 3B prospect.

  • Cubmig

    From what Theo has said and all the follow-up talk here, we should expect a major overhaul and see a whole different looking team. One thing I hate to see though, is eating a ton of salary in a Soriano trade. I can’t think of any trade where the Cubs have gained a player with the other team eating as much salary as the Cubs have been eating (Fukudome: all but $775,000 of 4.5M$, Z: 15M of the 18M$ owed + reimbursement of 2.4M$ of the 3M$ of disqualified list placement.) Bottom line: play Soriano till his legs fall off and then DL him maybe it’ll lead to a negotiated “release”……wishful thinking I know.

    • LWeb23

      In a way the Cubs will gain a player in a Soriano deal. Moving him opens up an OF spot for Rizzo, moving LaHair to the OF. Or in another less likely case, opens up an OF spot for B-Jax. Saving a few million bucks and getting a borderline Organizational Top 15 prospect is gravy.

  • Patrick G

    So John Heyman says the Yankees are more interested in Garza. What about Phil Hughes and a top minor league pitching prospect. Think Hughes needs a change of scenery and National League would help a little. He’s still young enough too and has a lot of postseason experience.

    • Cubs Dude

      Personally, I am not a huge fan of Hughes. His velocity dips all the time and pretty irratic, but has some upside. But it is huge if Garza tops their wish list.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Not enough for me. Hughes doesn’t have a whole lot of surplus value at this point, considering he’s a free agent in 2014, just like Garza. (Not to mention he’s been pitching like crap for two years.)

      • Cub Style

        Now, for Dempster… I may do Hughes and Banuelos

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          Yes, that I would do, even if both Hughes and Banuelos are down this year.

          • Patrick G

            Ya your right. Dempster would actually be better for that seeming the Yankees don’t have top talent prospects they would want for Garza.

    • rcleven

      If you want Hughes a more fair trade would be Well’s straight up.

  • Crockett

    The Yankees don’t have a top pitching prospect. Banuelos and Betances are both ticketed for the bullpen, and Hughes is just…ugh.

    If that’s all the Cubs could get for Garza, I’d puke a little.

    • Mike S

      Agreed. And I read that the Yankees don’t believe that their top 2 pitching prospects (Banuelos and Betances) are going to amount to much.

    • Cub Style

      If we don’t get Gary Sanchez and Mason Williams back in a Yankee deal for Garza… God…

      • Crockett

        At least. Williams is a ways off and while highly regarded, is still more likely to miss than hit.

        • Cub Style

          Agreed on Williams, that said, I’m not much of a fan of that system. Overall, if we’re going to trade Garza, I’d prefer it be to another team with a better pool to pick from.

          • Crockett

            Absolutely. I’ve always felt like the Yankees system was overrated.

            I’d prefer to see Garza go to the Red Sox, Tigers, or even Indians if they decide they’re in “buy mode”.

            • Cub Style

              Don’t forget about the Braves. If they decide they need to pick up an extra arm, they’d probably be the first team I’d target. Possibly getting something like a Delgado-Gilmartin package would be an impressive return for Garza.

              • Patrick G

                If it were the Braves, id prefer Teheran than Delgado

                • Cub Style

                  I’m sure you would! I’m not sure we’d get Julio.

          • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

            Agreed on the Yankees system being overrated.

            I’d still take a flyer on Banuelos. He is young enough and has shown enough that I think there is a decent chance he could yet put it it together enough to be a 2 / 3 starter type.

            I have no interested in Betances.  Sanchez and Williams would, of course, be nice, but I’d toss Dante Bichette Jr. in that category as well.

            If the Yankees would do Banuelos and any two from Sanchez, Williams, and Bichette Jr., I think they could field an attractive offer.  Maybe not the best offer, but an attractive one.

            • Crockett

              You’re right, he’s still very young. And he has plenty of time to make up lost ground, but his K/BB ratio has always been pretty poor. I see him as an 8th inning guy with the uptick in stuff in relief.

              Im not very high on Bichette Jr and am surprised (somewhat) that you are. I think if you let the Yankees pick 2/3 of those guys, they’d snicker a lot to themselves and pick Bichette twice.

              • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

                For a 19 year old in the Sally, he’s not doing bad.  He hasn’t blown me away by any means, but he hasn’t frightened me off, either.  The consensus seems to be he has all the tools needed to hit for average and that he should develop at least some power.  He loses some value if he can’t stick at third, but Iike the reports that he has a great work ethic and is coachable.  He’s definitely behind Williams and Sanchez, but not that far behind if he can stick at third base.

                I wouldn’t take him over someone like Castellanos, by any means, but I do think Bichette’s a prospect worth remembering.

  • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

    Anything with the Yanks/Garza has to start with Mason Williams

    • Crockett

      I think it’d have to start with Sanchez over Williams. Welington looks totally lost and Clevenger is a backup. But either way, I’d say you have to get Sanchez and Williams at least.

  • Cheryl

    If we had to bet on the order of trades Dempster will probably be first, then LaHair. Vitters will probably be part of a package. Wells will no doubt be traded. I think LaHair would be better off elsewhere rather than be an on again off again player for the cubs.

    • Joe

      It sounds more and more like LaHair is goint left field. That means Sori gets benched.

  • die hard

    If Cubs move Sori and save $3 mil, what better PR than to knock $1.00 off all grandstand tkts for rest of yr as fan appreciation…

  • die hard

    If a trade can be worked out with Phillies, wouldnt mind seeing Fontenot back in Cub uniform..hes found his niche and could be valuable piece of puzzle…

  • die hard

    Castro to Seattle for King Felix?

  • nkniacc

    I’ll be very interested to see if the cubs include any minor leaguers in trades this summer as a way to increase the impact prospects coming back

  • Cheryl

    Just read that Dempster has waived his no trade clause on another blog.

  • Puma0821

    Anyway we could get Bundy and Machado for Garza and Demp? Is that too much too give up? Seems to me that could really put Baltimore over the top…

  • Blinda

    Soriano to tribe for prospect TJ McFarland and ptbnl?

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