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July is just a few days away, and that’s when rumors tend to turn into action. But, as always, remember: for every one completed trade, there are 20 legitimately-discussed other ideas floating out there. Teams talk about many, many ideas – often with other teams – before a deal comes together.

  • The Dodgers have been scouting Bryan LaHair says Buster Olney. And, although they don’t like his defensive limitations, they need to add a bat somehow (and this was before Andre Ethier’s oblique strain). Might the Dodgers be considering a Ryan Dempster/Bryan LaHair package? Trading LaHair remains such a tricky thing for the Cubs. He’s cheap, but he’s older. He’s got huge numbers, but not lately. He can play first base or a corner outfield spot, but not particularly well. How much do you demand in trade?
  • Jon Morosi adds, plainly, that the Cubs will move LaHair for the right offer. But, you know, same question.
  • The Padres will listen to offers on Chase Headley, who’s raking, plays great defense, and is under control through 2014. Obviously it would take quite a bit to get him. The Cubs wouldn’t be interested, right? Eh. Hard to say for sure, but his age – 28 – would seem to push him outside the range of the kinds of players the Cubs are looking to pick up. To be clear, I don’t think it’s outside the realm of possibility that the Cubs will be willing to trade prospects for Major League players in the next couple years, but I think they’d prefer guys closer to 25 than 30 (who wouldn’t?). The Headley topic generated a healthy discussion on the Message Board.
  • Bruce Levine chatted this week, and … (1) If the Cubs can’t get a good prospect for Alfonso Soriano, while eating almost all of his salary, they might just keep him, on the thinking that he’s no longer really blocking anyone’s playing time (Tony Campana is probably the only player you could argue right now); (2) Bruce says the Cubs won’t consider signing Cole Hamels after the season; (3) the Cubs will probably trade Matt Garza, in the best interests of both the organization and Garza, and they should get three good prospects for him; (4) a number of teams would love to acquire an everyday catcher, but Geovany Soto hasn’t been healthy enough or productive enough to show that he’s that guy; (5) Bruce says it’s hard for Bryan LaHair to have trade value with just 28 RBI (and I shook my head sadly); (6) Ryan Dempster’s trade value is going to be largely unaffected by his time on the DL, as some teams might view him as “fresher”; (7) Rick Porcello is not a good fit for the Cubs, given the raises he’ll be getting in arbitration; and (8) Carlos Marmol still has to keep pitching well to have any trade value.
  • The Brewers are preparing to move Zack Greinke by the trade deadline if they can’t sign him to a long-term extension, according to Ken Rosenthal. Obviously Greinke’s availability on the market could significantly impact (negatively) the trade market for Dempster and Garza, so your rooting interests are as follows: (1) the Brewers go on a big-time winning streak; or, if we have to, (2) the Brewers sign Greinke to an extension (hopefully an oppressive one).
  • willis

    It would surprise me if the cubs don’t at least kick the tires on Hamels. They have to be active in FA for pitching or we’re not seeing anything competitive for a long time, maybe 2015 or 2016, which is ridiculous for a big market team.

    • King Jeff

      I think if they kick the tires on him, it will be much like how they did with Pujols and Fielder this past winter. I really don’t see them being in a position to outspend the Dodgers or Phillies for one player when the team is so far from complete, and I’m not sure Hamels would come to the Cubs for any other reason but being paid more than he would elsewhere.

      • djriz

        and I’m not sure Hamels would come to the Cubs for any other reason but being paid more than he would elsewhere.

        ding, ding…we have a winner!

        • EQ76

          I’ll say this.. Epstein and Hoyer do want to build the right way, however, they also want to win and would prefer a winning team next year. The Cubs have a) money to spend and b) we need pitching.. so interest in Hamels is a given to me.

          I agree that Hamels will demand a TON of money, but to assume the Cubs won’t have interest is crazy talk. Hamels is exactly what we need even though he may price himself too high for us, of course we will be interested and we SHOULD be interested.

          • Mick

            Of course Epstein and Hoyer want a winning team next year but what evidence can you provide that points towards them building for that. The only FAs they signed in the off-season were Johnson, Wood, Maholm, and DeJesus. They haven’t made any trades to acquire All-Star talent and the way the tradewinds are swirling we’re about to unload any player of any value for prospects. Now after all of that, why would we go out and sign Cole Hammels? There’s no point even pretending. At this point it’s looking like at least a 3-year rebuild and fans expecting anything less are just fooling themselves.

            • EQ76

              They’re tearing it down before they build it back up. I’m not saying they immediately come in and sign tons of FA’s.. I’m saying they aren’t waiting for a bunch of fresh out of high school guys to develop (from the draft)

              Step 1 was to build up the minors and shed the bad contracts, which they have been doing. Our minor league system is much better now than it was 5 months ago. They said they’d stockpile “assets” and build a core then add through FA and trades.

              No way are we inactive the next 2 off seasons.. that’s my point. I don’t expect Hamels to sign, I do expect the Cubs to be active in pursuing him. They won’t overpay but will and should have interest.

              I expect this: !) trade Garza & Demp and hopefully have 2-3 top level pitching prospects that can crack the rotation next year. 2) Shark will be back in the bullpen if he doesn’t adjust and improve. 3) Maholm and/or Wood stay in the rotation for next year… 4) Cubs go after a front line pitcher through FA or trade.

            • Toby

              I don’t believe the Cubs need to acquire All-star talent at every position, but they do need players that are complementary to the pieces that are All-Star calibur. For example, Cubs have an All-Star at SS in Castro and possibly a future All-Star in Rizzo while having someone at 2B in Barney that is solid defensively, adequate at the plate, but may never be an All-Star. So, Castro and Rizzo may end up being a good portion of the payroll one day and Cubs will need someone like Barney who gives them solid production while being cost effective.

          • Dave

            Who is to say what’s the right way? Many teams have been attempting to do what Theo and Co are doing and many have not seen success.
            Do the White Sox “do it the right way”? They have been more successful then most teams including the Cubs and have not needed to suffer years of rebuilding to accomplish it.
            What the Cubs are doing is not necessarily the best or right way but it certainly is the most painful and least expensive.

    • Featherstone

      Hes the same age as Garza with a better track record. I dont really understand how we can talk about wanting to extend Garza, but not be looking toward signing a player at the same age with better stats then him.

      • BD

        I agree. Especially with pitching. I would be 100% for building the lineup through youngsters, which we have a good start at; if we could focus our FA spending on pitching. The Cubs need it to win, and currently have none in the mid/upper minors.

        • ETS

          By similar logic – why would we trade garza if we are looking to sign guys like Hamels?

          • JulioZuleta

            Hamels is a cut above Garza. He has a more consistent track record. If we can trade Garza, get 3 real good prospects, then go out and sign a better pitcher, albeit to a more expensive contract, I don’t see too much conflicting logic..

          • BD

            I agree with Julio. Also, you could keep Garza and sign Hamels- the very best teams have several very good SPs.

            • Leroy K.

              woah woah….back up your horses….A team can have more than 1 SP???? So THATS what the Cubs are doing wrong ;)

            • ETS

              That’s sort of my point. If 29-31 age bracket is what you want then extend Garza and sign Hamels. If not, then trade Garza and don’t sign Hamels.

              • Featherstone

                There is a 3rd viable option, trade Garza for a great prospect haul and still sign Hamels. Adding Hamels is just another way to add talent to the club independent of the draft or trade market.

          • Featherstone

            We would trade Garza because we got a prospect haul worth taking. Hamels is a commodity that we have no control over and are looking to acquire with cash rather than players.

      • King Jeff

        Because Hamels is possibly going to approach a Prince Fielder type contract and Garza won’t get even close to half of that.

        • JulioZuleta

          There is a 0% chance that Hamels makes twice the annual salary as Garza. If I were a guessing man, Garza gets 5 years $92.5 ($16.5 a year) and Hamels gets 7/ $154 (22 a year).

          • King Jeff

            No, but nobody is going to sign Garza to a 200 million dollar contract, I’ve seen that number in relation to Hamels in several places. Garza will probably not get a 100 million dollar contract either, that’s why I said he won’t get half as much as Hamels.

            • JulioZuleta

              Well, sure, if Garza gets 5/90 and Hamels gets 9/180, I guess that’s making twice as much. But really it’s not.

            • Cubs Dude

              What?? You’ve seen that Hamels could approach 200 mill.? I know things are different now with the new cba, but that just seems flat out ridiculous.. Although, Prince’s contract was ridiculous too. So who knows..

              • King Jeff

                The Dodgers have a boatload or two of money to spend. They just got a huge tv deal and I think that they even own the parking lots now, so they get almost all income from the games. I don’t think the Phillies would go that high, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see LA or another large market team get up there.

                • EQ76

                  and Hamels is from SoCal.

            • Kyle

              I’ll go ahead and predict Garza gets a 9-figure contract.

              • Jeff

                No Way!! He might get C.J Wilson money, but not 9 figures

        • Featherstone

          Hamels wont get anywhere near Fielder or Pujols money, the risk is just too high for a pitcher than a positional player. The highest paid pitcher is Sabathia with Yankees at roughly 125 million left over 5 years and even he is arguably a better pitcher than Hamels. A much more likely comp and baseline for his contract would be Cain’s 6 years 127.5 million deal. I wouldn’t be surprised in the slightest if he got a contract of very similar length and value to that of Cain’s.

          • King Jeff

            You are right, I meant Sabathia, not Fielder, and I think Hamels might get more. I’ve read a few places that the Dodgers could be willing to offer him 200 million and the 175 million was pretty realistic.

            • Featherstone

              Say the Dodgers offer him 175 million over 7 years putting him at 25 mil per year, that still isnt double what Garza is going to get. Garza probably gets in the range of 90 mil over 5 which puts him at around 18mil per year. Total contract value is just one factor, AAV (average annual value) is a better indicator of comparative worth.

              • King Jeff

                Okay, going by yearly value, there is a good chance that Hamels will make 10 million dollars more a year in free agency than Garza would get from the Cubs by re-signing. I think 5/80 is about the range for Garza, but I could be off. Either way, the Cubs would probably be looking at around 40 million a year between the two, and that’s with the majority of both contracts being paid to players in their 30s.

  • Danny B

    Any updates on Almora? When is the deadline for draft picks to sign again?

    • BD

      I believe it is July 15th.

    • North Side Irish

      July 13 at 5 PM (ET)…don’t expect Almora to sign before that day and probably not until right at the deadline.

  • King Jeff

    Can Milwuakee afford to let another ace walk away? I know you have to watch how you spend your money, but they let Sabathia and Prince Fielder walk away, and now they are thinking of doing the same with Grienke. It’s madness.

    • CubsFanBob

      It’s Sparta !!!

      • Cyranojoe

        THIS! IS! MILWAUKEE!

        har-de-har-har

  • BD

    If somebody has the time and desire to answer my question- who was the last World Series winning team where every starter was under 30?

    I guess what I’m trying to say is, the Cubs target year might be 2015, but would it be that bad to have a guy who is 31 as a team leader?

    Or- even if you get him and his numbers jump (since he won’t be in Petco anymore), couldn’t you then trade him for a haul later on?

    • JulioZuleta

      I’m going to guess that has never happened.

    • mak

      Agreed. People who think that Cubs have to eliminate anyone older than 29 right now is missing the picture. Theo’s goals are efficiencies, not cheapness.

      In a market-place where top players no longer hit the free agent market (seems to be a trend), paying what we consider to be “too much” might actually not be too much at all. If we can sign Cole for 6 years, it certainly fits into our plan of 2015 contention (even if he is not in his “prime” at that point).

      • King Jeff

        I honestly think that Theo and Jed are going to try to acquire their core players through drafting, international signings, and trading stocked up prospects for major league ready players just entering their prime. I would have no problem if the Cubs broke the bank for Hamels, I just don’t think that this regime is going to be that hasty and would rather wait for the right fit rather than overpaying for the best player available now. I’m not saying I’m right, that’s just my opinion on how they are going to be approaching things moving forward.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

          Even if that is the plan, they’ll still have to sign pitching at some point.  They can develop every other position internally, but the fail rate on pitching prospects is so high it all but guarantees they will need at least one free agent at the front of the rotation.

          People like to point the 90s Braves as a team that was developed through the farm system, and that is largely true.  But if you look at where their star starting pitchers came from,  you’ll see what I’m talking about.

          • DocPeterWimsey

            Also, if you look at the number of highly touted Braves pitching prospects who failed to become anything special, then it becomes obvious how 10 in the bush is worth maybe 1 in next year’s hand…..

        • Steve

          I would be ok with having a payroll of about 65 million next year. Im dead serious. Save the cash and develop the farm. When it’s time, make your move…like Tony Montana.

          • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

            I think the 2013 payroll currently sits around $40 million after arbitration estimates.

            • Quintz

              Which is ironically how many games they will win next year, somewhere between 40 and 65.

            • MightyBear

              18 mil is Soriano.

              • EQ76

                yep… we cannot forget that the Cubs are a major market team. we have money people.. why do so many assume our payroll will be really low and we’ll only build through minor leaguers. we’re not the Rays or Royals. I believe with all I have the Cubs will be adding significant FA’s over the next few off seasons and our payroll will remain high.

          • Cyranojoe

            When it’s time, make your move… like Tony Campana.

            Fixed.

    • MXB

      The 1995 Atlanta Braves are the only team I could think of:

      Greg Maddux, age 29, born 1966-04-14
      Tom Glavine, age 29, born 1966-03-25
      John Smoltz, age 28, born 1967-05-15
      Steve Avery, age 25, born 1970-04-14
      Kent Merker, age 27, born 1968-02-01

      • MightyBear

        1971 orioles

        • MXB

          Cuellar was 34, and the Orioles lost the WS to Pittsburgh, but wow, looking at the stats, all 4 Oriole starters won at least 20 and no starter lost more than 9 games.

  • THEOlogical

    I say we wait til the signing of Soler is complete, then trade him, Garza and Dempster to the Padres for Headley. That way we know for sure that Henry is still pulling the puppet strings behind the curtain all this time.
    Haha…I keed, I keed.

  • mudge

    I hope LaHair gets moved to somewhere he can play first base. He’d have more home runs, rbi and, arguably, value if he’d been played every day this season. Imagine Soriano after successful knee surgery. He’s not a bad option out there. I can’t think of another player his age who has improved so much at a position over one year. He’s been treated as an asset and responded well. I’m much more eager to see the last of Marmol and Soto. Hoping Soto can pick it up and play his way out.

    • Cheryl

      mudge, I agree. If he starts to play on a regular basis his numbers should go way up. This platooning isn’t helping him or the cubs

      • DocPeterWimsey

        No, LaHair’s numbers would go down.  First, they’d drop because LaHair cannot hit lefties at all: so, one third of his PAs would have a much higher proportion of outs than his current collection has.  Second, LaHair very possibly might mess up his batting mechanics trying to speed up his swing every third game (in order to adjust to requiring a fraciton of a second longer to pick up balls from lefties), which would throw off his timing against righties.  LaHair is an old dog: and this is a new trick he is not going to learn.

        • Cheryl

          Again. I disagree. If the trade goes through let’s take another look at him at the end of the season,

          • Drew7

            Ok Cheryl, if you think his numbers against LHP, would go up, then you MAY be right, but overall numbers?

            Lahair has a .999 OPS against RHP, and a .371 OPS against LHP. For his overall numbers to go up, he would either have to:

            A. increase his production significantly against LHP, since they account for less than 85% of his PA’s and dont carry much weight. Or…

            B. Maintain his his numbers against LHP and improve against RHP. Again, very unlikely, since he sports a .999 OPS but has been SO over 30% of his PA’s.

            I know you pull for the guy, but its unreasonable to expect his numbers to go up by increasing PA’s against pitchers he cant hit(even if he improved) better than the ones hes facing now.

            • BD

              Wouldn’t his stats against LHP be considered a small sample size?

              • Drew7

                If they werent supported by 800+ PA’s of suck in the minors, yes.

            • Cheryl

              Yes, I pull for the guy. But what I’m thinking is that his average against left-handed pitching could go up between 5 and 7 percent, not a great deal. But with more at bats and his being able to hit right handed pitching I see a much higher percentage increase in his average against right handers. Consistent play when he’s not in and out of the lineup so often will help him. I think, if he’s traded, he’ll hit 285 with between 20 and 25 homeruns. That means a slight drop from his batting average now but an overall betterment than what he is doing now. If trade doesn’t go through and he continues to be in and out of the lineup, like he is now, I don’t think he’ll do well. He may even follow in the footsteps of Wells.

              • Cyranojoe

                Sounds plausible to me.

              • Drew7

                Even though him even maintaining his current #s against RHP is unlikely (very high K-rate and high BABIP) we can say for this example, he does (sorry, but there is almost 0 chance his vsRHP numbers improve).
                LaHair’s overall OPS now = .891

                Lets say, instead of platooning him, Sveum instead had given BL 60 additional PA’s against LHP, and his production against them increased 7%:
                (.66*.999)+(.33*(1.07*.371)) = .790

                What that means is, even if he maintained the sky-high numbers against RHP AND increased his #s against LHP by 7%, his OPS would have been .790 at this point, instead of .891

  • sm

    Isn’t the point of developing good young position players so they can spend money on pitching in free agency?? Not that they don’t want to develop young pitching but it seems with Castro, the trade for Rizzo, Jackson, Vitters etc, that those things would free up big money for FA pitching.

  • andrew

    IF the cubs were to sign Hamels for alotta moolah, wouldnt we lose a first round draft pick? and wouldnt that pick likely to be the number 1-3 overall, or do i misunderstand how all that works?

    • King Jeff

      The Cubs would lose their second round pick if they signed Hamels, and the Phillies offered him a qualifying contract, and he turned it down. I’m not sure how low it goes, but the high first round picks are protected.

      • cubs217

        If Hamels is traded at the deadline, would it still cost a pick to sign him? and if so who gets that picK?

        • King Jeff

          No, there would be no picks for anyone in that situation.

    • Jon

      U do

    • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

      Andrew nailed why they won’t sign Hamels despite talk of extending Garza; the loss of a draft pick.
      On the other hand, why trade Garza and sign Hamels? Because trading Garza gets you 3 prospects, signing Hamels allows you to still have that good pitcher at the top, costs you a pick, so you net two prospects.

      Sign Hamels:
      keep Garza you have those two and no 2nd round pick in 2013.
      trade Garza, you have Hamels and 3 prospects – loss of draft pick

      Don’t sign Hamels:
      Sign Garza, you have Garza
      Trade Garza, you get 3 prospects
      -
      I wouldn’t mind a trade of Garza and a signing of Hamels. But I’d rather not sign a pitcher long term yet.

      • Noah

        I don’t think the Cubs would be unwilling to part with what will likely be the 31st through 35th pick in the draft if they get a player they really want.

        Here’s my problem with not signing anyone to a long term deal, particularly pitchers. Let’s say the Cubs’ current prospects pan out to give them, say, a five year window from 2015-2019. The last time a pitcher under age 30 with Hamels’ or Greinke’s resume hit the free agent market was prior to the 2009 season. It just happens so rarely.

        If the Cubs sign Hunter Pence to a 4 year/$60 million deal, I’ll be pissed. Pence is a nice player, but not a game changer. Greinke and Hamels are guys you could reasonbly expect, barring injury, to be your number 1 starter for the next 5 seasons.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

          The Cubs second round pick won’t be quite that high.  There is a competitive balance lottery round that takes place right after the first round, and then any free agent comp picks (shouldn’t be very many of those).  I think the lotto round 6 picks, so the highest the Cubs could choose in the second round is 37th overall.

          Which is still pretty darn high.

          • Noah

            Some of the draft stuff is going to remain a mystery to me until I see it in action for a couple of years.

            Anyone have any idea of how the “competitive balance” lottery round is determined? Is it sort of like the NBA draft order?

    • djriz

      top 10 picks are protected.

  • Rizzofanclub

    The cubs have to spend money this off season, they have too. The question is where? Since the Cubs have so many holes where do you start? I really think the Cubs are going to hold on to Garza (with the amount of prospects making an impact this year I think team are going to hold them very tightly), the will trade Dempster to the Dodgers. This is just me guessing

    • Leroy K.

      pitching. starting pitching….hands down….

    • North Side Irish

      They don’t have to spend money and I don’t think they will. Far more likely that next season’s payroll will be even lower than this season’s. I think they will finish the teardown process next year and then start the FA spending after next season.

      Cubs only have around $35M guaranteed on next year’s payroll, but guys like Castro, Samardzija, and Russell will be due raises in arbitration.

      Subtract out the money owed to Zambrano, Byrd, Pena, and Dempster, plus likely Garza and that’s about $48M coming off the payroll. If they don’t bring back Soto, Volstad, and Stewart and that’s over $50M.

      But I really don’t see them spending that much in free agency. I think it will be more signings like DeJesus and Maholm…veterans on short deals just to get through the next two seasons. Maybe an extension for Castro, but otherwise I think it’ll be closer to a $75M payroll in 2013.

  • King Jeff

    Deleted

  • BD

    Does anybody else think that Puig contract is going to be a huge backfire?

    • Cubs Dude

      Sure, seems like an a$$ load of money, when by all accounts Soler is much better thought of, and the Cubs got him for a lot cheaper 2 weeks earlier. Kind of weird IMO. Who knows, maybe Puig was thought of better than we were told..

      • JoeyCollins

        I almost think the dodgers took a lot of heat and feel dumb for missing out on soled so they took a giant swing at this one just to make sure they got him. Its probably more about the perception of the new ownership being willing to spend money and get better than what they thought of the kid.

  • Cubs Dude

    I know we may not be competitive next year. But don’t we have to at least consider signing pitchers like Hamels in free agency, considering we have terrible pitching in the minors? It seems to me Thed should spend their avail funds on pitching and use our systems strong position players on the cheap. I really don’t want another year like this year..

    • Grant

      Agree with you here. We’re years from a decent homegrown starter, so don’t look to the minors to bolster our rotation (which will take a hit with the loss(es) of Garza and/or Dempster). So that means getting one from another team. Do we trade for a TOR starter? With the way we’ve been building up our farm system, I don’t see that being Theo/Jed’s preferred method. If we’re getting SPs, it will be on the FA market.

      Then look at what FA SPs are available the next three years (MLBTR has good pages for this): Hamels, Greinke, and a whole lot of nobody worth considering (at least as a TOR starter). Personally, I’m not sold on Greinke – he’s never pitched a good game in Wrigley, and apart from his Cy Young year, he’s never put up numbers worth the $10-15 mil/year it’s gonna cost to sign him.

      I think we go hard for Hamels this offseason, mainly because I don’t see how else we’re gonna have a TOR starter by the time this team is ready to compete. (Or at least how else we do it without it costing us a number of worthwhile prospects).

  • Dustin S

    There was a lot of Headley to the Cubs trade talk actually last Winter. When Theo likes guys he is able to get them for sure (Rizzo, Soler, etc.) and Headley might be one of those players since his name keeps coming up. His age is borderline to fit in our rebuilding though. I like him but I think it’d have to be in a fairly bargain deal due to his age, and there are other teams that would probably pay more.

  • Ari Gold

    Yep, when I read the Levine chat about Lahair’s 28 RBI’s, my immediate thought was to send him to Saber school.

    • DocPeterWimsey

      Well, LaHair has been appallingly unsuccessful with RiSP: even given the sample size, fewer than 1 player in 60 should be doing so poorly.  Of course, there are a lot more than 30 baseball players, so we expect this poor luck among about 2 every day players in the NL.  Of course, having the lOwBA team of the world is by far the bigger reason for LaHair’s lack of RBI’s given his high homer rate.

  • Mike

    I agree 100% on the thoughts behind going after Hamels. You don’t wait until your competive to try to acquire top shelf talent. The Cubs have money to spend and should do so with the thought that they are going to be competitive in 3 years, but if the curve on Castro, Rizzo and another position player like Lake, Jackson, Vitters accelerates, they have the SP in place to complement to take advantage. The Cubs are severely lacking SP that is close to being MLB ready. The advantage they have is that they are large market and can use money to speed things up. I like Garza a lot, but I’d trade him and Dempster for young SP and use the money to go after Hamels and even Greinke if available.

    • ETS

      I’d rather us go after someone like anibel sanchez or McCarthy if you can get a “deal”. I’d listen on Hamels but my guess is that will turn into a circus quickly.

  • Patrick G

    I honestly think getting Headley would be a positive to compete quicker. Even if more of our pieces come a year or 2 later, we can use him to trade for pitching if Vitters or anyone else is MLB ready. Not sure how much it would cost to get him though. Trade Garza and Dempster for almost MLB ready pitching and possibly sign Hamels and could look like:

    CF Jackson
    SS Castro
    3B Headley
    1B Rizzo
    LF LaHair/Soriano
    RF Dejesus
    C Soto/Castillo/fill in the blank
    2B Barney
    P

    Hamels
    Samardjia
    Pitching Prospect
    Pitching Prospect
    Wood

    Might not be the best of teams, but think something like this could allow the Cubs to somewhat compete depending on the pitching prospects

    • rcleven

      Come on Theo throw the fans of the parent club a bone.

    • Quintz

      Managers love lead-off hitters who are on pace to strike out 250 times (in AAA).

      • Chad

        Exactly….in that lineup Jackson and Dejesus should be flipped, I am not a real big fan of 3 lefties back-to-back-to-back. I don’t think Sori becomes a platoon player at $18 mill per year either.

        I don’t think Jackson gets a permanent gig until he can reduce his k rate to a reasonable percentage.

        • HuskerCub

          While Sori is getting paid $18M a year he is on longer an $18M a year player. If the Cubs are willing to eat $14-$16M of his salary to trade him, they should be willing to treat him like a $2-$4M player while he is still on the roster. I would have no problem with platooning Sori and LaHair. Between the two you may actually get some very nice production out of LF.

          • DocPeterWimsey

            Sori actually has been hitting RHP better than LHP pitching this year, although he’s hitting LHP well.  Really, platoons come about because of lefties like LaHair who cannot hit LHP: RHB who cannot hit righties usually don’t get to MLB!

          • hansman1982

            People were saying that in the offseason – doing that you reduce Soriano to a LH pitching only guy which means 2-3 starts a week and he would have 0 trade value. He is still productive (he is NOT a $2-4M player) and you hope that someone needs a DH at some point.

            • HuskerCub

              I didn’t mean to suggest they should platoon him before the trade deadline, but if no trade materializes, they should not play him just because he has a high salary.

              • DocPeterWimsey

                No, they should play Sori against RHP because he’s got an OPS over 0.8 against them.  Only LaHair is hitting RHP better than Sori.  As neither LF nor RF has a hot prospect under it, the Cubs might just as well keep Sori out there.

                • HuskerCub

                  I would generally agree, however his bad knee really seems to be impacting his range. I would think the extra rest he would get in a platoon may pay some dividends as well.

                  • Cyranojoe

                    Sori’s knee is a good (bad) point.

          • cubs217

            I agree, at this point Sori’s contract is a sunk cost. They should put out the lineup the gives the team the best chance of winning regardless of salary. (obviously this discounts other FO motives like increasing trade value, etc.)

      • EQ76

        Jackson as centerpiece for a Headley trade???

  • Cub Gone Wild

    I think that Theo hired all these talented scouts for a reason. I don’t know that he would go out of his way to sign Hamels any more than he did Pujols or Fielder. He will make sure his hat is in the ring if for nothing more than to drive the price up on Hamels to somebody else has to really over spend to get him. That’s smart business on his part. I personally believe those talented scouts are out in search of more Travis Wood’s of the world. Just a bit of patience and we have a nice LH starter coming along nicely. My gut says that if Theo is going to spend a few extra dollars he will do so on a real good 3B. I wouldn’t be surprised of Theo makes a deal with the Dodgers sending Dempster and LaHair and we get some pitching back. I look for him to do the same with Garza. If we can get a couple good starts out of Maholm he could get us back a couple decent BP arms that throw strikes.

  • Mike S

    Brett,

    I’ve been reading (http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2012/06/cubs-willing-to-part-of-dempsters-salary-in-trade.html), that the Cubs are willing to eat part of Dempster’s $14M in order to receive better prospects in return.

    My question is: why wouldn’t the Cubs eat ALL of his $14M to maximize their value in return? Surely, at the beginning of the season they were not “expecting” to be in this position with Dempster, and would thereby already assume that they will be paying him his $14M. Why not eat ALL of that, which they were going to anyways if he stays, and make Dempster the most sought after pitcher on the market?

    • hansman1982

      at some point the other team doesn’t care about the money and that may be the case moreso with the new draft rules (getting an extra $5M in relief doesn’t mean you have $5M more to spend to get a replacement for that prospect)

  • Cub Gone Wild

    IMO there is no way Cole Hamels is a Cub. Not going to happen. Not part of the plan for rebuilding this team. Only way that would be a possibility is if Theo signs Garza to an extension and signs Dempster to a team friendly 2 or 3 year deal to be a bottom of the rotation starter over that time period. If he does that it makes sense to sign Hamels. Theo needs to focus on getting a real 3B asap if that is the plan. We are good enough at catcher between the 3 we have, the rest of the infield is good to go. We are fine with DeJesus in CF and Soriano in LF. If LaHair can bring back something in a trade that’s great. I don’t want to trade Soriano because it’s stupid to pay him to play somewhere else this year and next for that matter. He isn’t our problem. I don’t pay him $14 or $15M a year to produce runs for somebody else and get a MAYBE prospect back.

  • Brent

    Prospect question. With a major hole at 3rd base, what good reasons are there for not getting excited about what Vitters is doing in Triple A? The results are there and he is doing it a fairly young age.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      There are some questions about Vitters defense (although it is improving) and his ability to remain at third base long term.  That said, there is plenty of reason to be excited by what he is doing.  There is a very real possibility that he is the 2013 third baseman.

      • Chris

        I don’t get the sense that Theo/Jed hold Vitters in high esteem. Whenever they talk about other prospects in the organization, he’s NEVER mentioned. And they keep playing him at 1B in Iowa. It doesn’t seem like he can improve his defense at 3rd when he’s playing 1st. Unless he goes on a Rizzo-like tear, I don’t think we can expect Vitters to be the starter at 3rd for a long time, if ever.

        • djriz

          Chris, you may be right, but I HOPE you are wrong. If the FO doesn’t feel Vitters’ game fits their needs fine…let him build up his stats in AAA to increase his trade value. If the FO doesn’t like Vitters because THEY didn’t draft or trade for him, then shame on them. (I really hope this isn’t the case). In 50 years of being a Chicago sports fan, I’ve seen plenty of personnel decisions made because of executive ego, and it never works out well for the team.

          As much as I agree with the way they are trying to rebuild the team, I can see their ego being a problem. In three years from now, if Soler, Almora, Baez and Lake are all crushing AAA pitching, which ones do you think the FO will gush about more?

          • Drew7

            Ii’d imagine if they dont like him, the reason is the former (not being their type of player).

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

          Where is this idea that the Cubs keep playing Vitters at first and are prevent him from improving at third coming from?  Vitters has played precisely three game at first base in 2012.  Three.  He’s spent more games than that at DH (4).

          Meanwhile, he’s played 67 at third.  He probably will spend  a little more time at first now that Rizzo isn’t there, but I see no reason to think that the vast majority of his playing time will not continue to come at third.  The Cubs have not given up on him by any stretch of the imagination.

      • Mick

        Why is it everyone is so concerned with Vitters’ defense at 3B? What’s the huge difference between 3B and 1B? What are people expecting, the next Scott Rolen or Brooks Robinson? Heck, if Ron Coomer can play 3B, anybody can!

        • DocPeterWimsey

          Throwing is the huge difference between first and third.  And that is not trivial….

          • Mick

            You’re being sarcastic right? I mean, the part about Vitters not being able to make a throw from 1st to 3rd? Josh Vitters, the 3rd overall pick in 2007, drafted to be a 3B, practices baseball everyday, not being able to make a throw from 3rd to 1st?

            • DocPeterWimsey

              Usually, meatbag…..

              (Look at icon!)

              • Mick

                Then you agree that too much is being made about Vitters’ 3B defensive ability? Having a defensive wizard at 3B is like bringing the hottest girl to a blind-person prom.

                • Chris

                  I’m just saying if the reason he’s still in AAA is mostly related to his defense, I’m not sure why he’s playing at 1st ever. He has been hitting pretty well this season, and of late way better than Jackson. But in every interview I’ve heard recently with Hoyer or Epstein, they never mention Vitters. They’ve talked about Rizzo, Jackson, Lake, and Baez, but never Vitters. I wouldn’t call it an ego thing, I’d say he’s probably not a player they rate highly. Let’s face it, Valbuena is a backup, Stewart is a bust, and Lake won’t be coming up from AA this year. If Vitters hovers around .300 the rest of the year, I’d hope they would consider bringing him up to play 3rd. If not sooner, then by September. He’s already on the 40-man roster, so that won’t be a concern.

                  • chirogerg

                    Actually, Jackson is raking right now as well.

                    The reason we should NOT bring him up is because he is simply not ready to hit ML pitching. He needs to see more pitches. His raised BA is a great sign, and I am a fan of Vitters, but just 17 walks in 276 ABs is a sign that he can still improve, and that is what the minors are for.

    • djriz

      First, his defense is subpar.
      Second, his numbers at AAA have been decent, but his BA and OPS have been inflated by an extremely hot last 10 days.
      I think his production at 3rd on the ML level would be better than anything we have going now, but why risk his progress for a few extra wins in a lost season. Let him grow at AAA, let him play here in Sept, then make your decision next spring.
      Every move the Cubs make ‘on the farm’ should be to the prospects benefit.

      • Gutshot

        What do you mean his BA and OPS has been inflated by the last ten games? Does that mean that we can equally delete ten of his worst days from his stats? If anything, based on his age, most recent performances should be a better indicator of his progress.

  • Cub Gone Wild

    I agree with Vitters being in position to potentially move into 3B. He could also move into a corner OF spot or he could be a very good trade chip as early as the next few weeks.
    The only problem we have regarding Vitters is can we wait for him to put his time in at AAA and mature the way Theo has set forth? I don’t think we should bring him up until he is ready and has a full season of AAA. Big question is do we have the patience to wait another year (next year this time). If Theo is going to stick with the develop our own plan then next year is going to be almost as bad as this year. There is the business side of this equation. How long with the fan base pay big $$ for tickets to watch this product especially if this continues into next season.

    • Drew7

      Vitters is starting to show the potential to have enoigh of a bat to be at 3rd, but I dont think he’ll hit enough to be a starting corner OF’er.

  • Brent

    As for me, I’d personally find it intriguing to see the Chicago Cubs play an infield of Rizzo, Barney, Castro and Vitters with Clevenger and Castillo behind the plate. At this point, what do we have to lose?

  • Cub Gone Wild

    If Vitters isn’t in the big picture at 3B then play him in the OF. Trade LaHair and you can bring Vitters up and let him play RF and see how he does against ML pitching the rest of the year. Big risk in that is he doesn’t hit at the ML level and his value ends up being zilch. Maybe he gets traded in the next few weeks. Nothing will surprise me. In order for us to get back players we need we are going to have to send players in deals. We don’t have anything with upside on the ML roster except LaHair. Soto, Baker, Johnson, Mather etc bring us back rookie ball prospercts. Do we really need a bunch of guys that other teams don’t valule. Theo is smarter than that.

  • Dave H

    Sorry will end up being here this year and next. If his #’s hold up they may get a taker next year. He wins a ring and retires. One can only hope

    • Drew7

      I guess I dont understand why hes still, “Sorry”. His contract with the payroll in the near future being so low, hes not preventing any signings, hes not blocking anyone, and hes producing.

  • DCF

    Getting 3 good prospects for Garza is an incredibly stupid pipe dream. If the Cubs could get even one REAL prospect in return they would have done it month ago.
    I mean seriously, 3 “good” prospects, that represents a value of easily 20+ million, depending on the defintion of good maybe even 30+ million.

    What a team gets it return is
    A) a decent, but not at all great pitcher. Garzas’s had a great 2011 but fared considerably worse this year so far and his career numbers are also much more pedestrian than 2011 might have looked.

    B) 1.5 years of control in the final stages of arb, where Garza is already being paid very close to what he’s worth.

    How on earth is that supposed to be 20 million dollars? It’s not even worth 10 million if the Cubs eat all of Garza’s salary fo 2012.

  • Njriv

    Do you think with the recent Samardzija struggles the Cubs are hesitating on trading Garza? We are not quite sure if he can ever pitch like he did in April/May for an entire season.

    • Jeff

      Samardzija’s struggles should have no bearing on unloading the players we need to move to improve this team and add quality prospects. I love Garza..bye bye

      • Patrick W.

        Samardzija’s 96 pitches away from throwing as many pitches as he did all of last season and 2 outs away from matching his innings. I think he needs to rest up a little bit. Give him a rest his next scheduled start and then the All Star break. Might help.

      • Njriv

        The thing is I don’t like the idea of trading a sure thing Garza JUST for “quality” prospects, I would think at least one of them would have to be major league ready, because you can only be so sure about prospects.

  • Patrick W.

    Here’s the thing that I have been looking at the last two weeks that makes me a little pessimistic about competing until 2015: The next two year’s free agent classes do not look great. A few great starting pitchers, but they’ll all be on the wrong side of 30. I just don’t see any position players that make a lot of sense. Robinson Cano would be the one guy I would love to see but there is very little chance he makes it to free agency.

    It seems to me that the next two years are going to require a LOT of hoarding of prospects to trade some away if the Cubs are going to be competitive in 2014. It’s one thing to have money to spend, it’s another to have players to spend it on.

  • TakingWrigleyToSaoPaulo

    Why I have faith in Theo and Co: Boston has apparently found a great young third-baseman (Middlebrooks) who could be an impact player for years to come and now another Boston talent (Jackie Bradley) tops ESPN’s article on players to look out for in the coming years; not to mention Matt Barnes and some of the other high upside players. The Boston system is clearly adding value in quantity and quality in various positions to the big league club under what was the direction of Theo.

    I firmly believe if we stick with the plan and refrain from investing in Cole Hammels and other high profile free agents until we are ready to take the next step (4+ years) we’ll get it done.

    Here’s to hoping and watching the program grow…. cheers.

    • Ted

      I generally agree, but to play devil’s advocate:

      we’re a huge market team with tons of money coming in and a rabid fanbase. EVERY team in the MLB spends money in the draft (duh) and on international free agents (see: Dodgers and Puig, Soler’s popularity with many other teams with >.333 winning percentage); I don’t quite see why we have to spend nothing for the next three years in order to also rebuild. We could at least field a contender by paying a few FAs (after all we have absurd amounts coming off of the payroll)!

      • Josh

        I agree. Especially this upcoming offseason, we will need to really invest in pitching. Because we lack high quality pitching prospects and our rotation is bad enough with Garza and Dempster let alone without them. We need to upgrade at C, and 3B immediately whether or not that’s in-house or a fairly cheap free agent I can’t watch Stewart and Soto for another season.

    • Kyle

      Theo’s teams in Boston didn’t need to suck or refuse to spend money to build that farm system, though. Why would the Cubs need to?

      • DocPeterWimsey

        Temporal autocorrelation.

  • http://bleachernation.com RicoSanto

    Cubs will sign a few FA next year.Probably a step down from Grienke and Hamels.Marcum.,or Sanchez or Demp.Dejesus was an excellent signing. We need at least one starter from Garza trade and Demp that could start next year.The Yanks farm system is down but they are desperate for 1 or 2 starters.What could we get from the Yanks, the catcher and 1 of Betances or Buelanos. ?

  • Kevin

    Other than the Cubs 1st & 2nd round picks who haven’t signed yet, what other unsigned players selected in the later rounds have the most upside potential? Hopefully we can use the money we saved signing players under slot to secure these sleepers.

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