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This rumor season has been surprisingly light on the head-scratcher types, probably based on the fact that the Cubs are obvious sellers, and that the pieces the Cubs will sell are fairly easy to identify. This time of year, though, always brings out some strange rumors – some that you can instantly shoot down, and others that make you think.

Here’s at least one head scratcher for you, from the Boston Herald’s Michael Silverman, and it actually is making me do some thinking:

One baseball insider suggested the Red Sox are discussing a deal involving outfielder Ryan Sweeney, who will become more expendable once Jacoby Ellsbury returns to action soon after the All-Star break, and the Chicago Cubs are one possible destination. The Cubs are believed to be listening to offers for two of their starting pitchers: Matt Garza and Ryan Dempster. Sweeney would have to be part of a much larger package if either of those pitchers, particularly Garza, went to the Red Sox.

First, I want to defend Silverman a bit here. To his credit, he appropriately concludes the thought with the correct caveat that Sweeney, alone, ain’t netting the Red Sox Garza or Dempster, especially Garza.

Second, it reads to me like Silverman isn’t speculating here. Instead, it reads to me like Silverman is saying that his source told him (1) Sweeney is being discussed in trade talks, and (2) at least one of those possibly interested teams is the Cubs.

But, it’s a bit of a head-scratcher. Setting aside the fact that, in a deal involving Sweeney and the pitchers, the Cubs would primarily be looking to pick up prospects, does Sweeney make sense for the Cubs?

Sweeney is just 27, but he’s already in his second year of arbitration, and will be a free agent after 2013. He’s cheap, making just $1.75 million this year, and can play all over the outfield, but he’s also relatively unproductive. This year, he’s hitting justĀ .283/.319/.400, though for his career, his OBP is usually higher (.340) (and his SLG is lower (.381)).

This could be a situation where Theo and Jed see a guy who might have particular success in Wrigley Field (which does play better for lefties). But, even if that’s true, why would they be looking to acquire a 27-year-old outfielder right now? Well, Sweeney could be an inexpensive gap-bridger to the young outfielders – think Albert Almora and Jorge Soler types, or even Brett Jackson if he takes another year, or doesn’t develop at all – and he could also be an upside play. Maybe he takes another step forward this and next year, and the Cubs just picked up an inexpensive but valuable player. The Cubs may not be interested in giving Tony Campana a full-time shot in the second half or in 2013, and they may not believe in guys like Dave Sappelt or Jae-Hoon Ha.

Consider this, as well: Sweeney is not a game-changer. But he might be slightly more expensive than a typical bench pick-up for a playoff bound team. So a team like the Cubs might have more interest in him than other possible trade partners, and they might look to cash in on the soon-to-be very crowded Boston outfield.

So, that is all to say: I could see reasons the Cubs might have interest in Sweeney as a complementary piece in a deal, but, until we learn more, it’s still something of a head-scratcher. For one thing, there isn’t a spot for him right now, with Alfonso Soriano in left, David DeJesus in center, and Bryan LaHair in right. Does interest in Sweeney portend the imminent movement of one of those guys? If one is dealt this month, picking up Sweeney would sure give the Cubs plenty of cover not to rush Brett Jackson up to the bigs. And, then, after 2013, if the Cubs don’t like him, Sweeney’s gone. Heck, if they don’t like him after this year he can be gone.

It’s worth reminding ourselves: when these guys make a deal, many of the pieces can surprise you. Picking up Sweeney could actually prove a brilliant stroke, depending on what the related moves are. I think we can be sure that Sweeney isn’t going to be the center piece in any deal, but he should get you thinking about what else could be on the horizon.

  • Mick

    Under the right circumstances, Sweeney could be a serviceable replacement if 2 of LaHair, Soriano, and DeJesus gets traded. I’d prefer Sweeney over Reed Johnson or Jeff Baker because he’s only 27, under team control for a few more seasons, and if hits well could carry some trade value in the future. Plus, being from Cedar Rapids he had to be a Cubs’ fan growing up so, maybe the light bulb goes on when he puts on the uniform?

    • Alou and Vinegar

      I think you are on to something. Someone is going to have to play outfield if 2 or 3 of the guys you mention are traded (I think at least 2 are. Hopefully 3).
      There really isn’t anyone at AAA to take their place. Sappelt hasn’t been very good and Jackson isn’t ready.

  • Terry

    I would much rather see the cubs get Daniel Darva who is younger and better than Sweeny.

  • Serious Cubs Fan

    I only want sweeney in a Garza trade if he’s just throw in, with 2-3 top prospects like Barnes included. Middlebrooks is a pretty good player, and will be an above average 3rd baseman but people seriously overate the guy. I watch him a lot and there is a lot of swing and miss in his game, but his power will make up for his contact rate. I wouldn’t want him in a Garza trade because his arbitration clock has already started (they won’t trade him anyways). Also their catching prospect is overated as well, he’s a good prospect but there is nothing in his game that blows you away. Barnes and Xander Bogaerts are the true prizes in that farm system, those are the guys I would want in a garza trade

    • White Sox Nation

      Your not getting their and 3 top prosepects and Sweeney get real.

  • http://bleachernation.com someday…2015?

    So… Anyone else think Castro’s gonna do something special tonight? My prediction for the two Cubs tonight. Castro 3-3 HR and 3 RBI. LaHair 1-3 double and 2 Ks

    • EQ76

      eh.. Castro goes 1-2, LaHair 0-1, reaches base on an error and somehow scores the winning run.

    • Brady

      I am hoping Castro breaks that SB record he tied last season. Gotta go for 3 Starlin!

  • morgan

    ummmm no, the dude is like 6’4 215 and how many hrs does he have its under 5, at that size the dude should at least have 10 right now i think hes never hit over 15-20 hrs ever, mean he swings the bat like a women with that size and no power

    • Ian Afterbirth

      I’ll bet he can spell and construct a sentence like a man, though!

  • Cheryl

    Can’t really see a deal with the Red Sox. When Theo left they resented it. Wouldn’t that play into any trade discussions?

  • Beer Baron

    Man, 100 comments on a possible Ryan Sweeny deal — you think everyone hear is jonesing for some trade news or what?

    • Serious Cubs Fan

      I just can’t wait till start the fire sale. Trade Demp, Garza, Baker, Reed Johnson, Camp, Lahair, Soriano, Maholm, Corpas (if you can get anything), Trade these guys if you get good value of prospects. Then just replace them wit filler veterans, like Rodrigo Lopez. Keep kids down like Brett Jackson and Vitters (don’t allow their arbitration clock to start and gain another additional year of control on them. yes we will really suck and I see that as a positive because we will get the #1 overall pick, The most money in the draft, and for international signings next year.

      • Bric

        I’m hoping for the best, too, but finding trading partners for all those guys with a return worth making the deal is extremely optimistic. I’d be even happier if the Theocracy had about 3 or 4 target prospects they want to go for and move any or all of the aforementioned players to get them in any combination neccesary. If some of these guys don’t generate interest, hold onto them.

        What I’d really rather not see, though, is a lot of waiting til the last minute while other teams make moves and then suddenly just making trades left and right for the sake of change. Hendry passed on way too many trades, held out for too long, and then sent out players (many after the trade deadline) because he never seemed to have certain targets in mind. If you want player X and you can get him, then get him. But don’t dick around too long and then settle for player Y.

        • Kevin

          Perfectly said! Let’s see something done that brings back value while focusing on the future.

      • White Sox Nation

        You people are truly a morons you no one wants the Fonz unless the Cubs eat the contract even then that a big IF. Your not going to get much in return for Johnson or anyone else the only exceptions on getting quality in return for is Demp and Garza.. Everyone else your just getting rid of salary and getting shit half ass prospects in return. Vitters and Jackson need to be up and playing when the rosters expand and they need to be the club next season or if their bust this team is in more deep shit then it allready is. Stop out thinking yourselves about abritration clocks and all that just because you read it in the Suntimes or Trib about Rizzo!!!! This team hasn’t won a fucken thing in over 100 years!!!! If all goes well we could start to have some hope by 2014 , your talking about setting back another 5-6 years.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Haha. When the Cubs finally deal Dempster, heaven help us…

      • Wester

        Excellent

      • White Sox Nation

        Why ? This team blows right now with now hope of contending right now so adding some more youth is a plus for the direction the team is heading . I love Demp but it is what it is and this team isn’t winning until maybe 2014. Send Demp to the South Side at least he will have a shot at a ring this season.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          I think you missed the part where we were joking around. I’ve supported dealing Dempster since the offseason.

    • Edward

      I think we are all ready for the rumor mill to pick up and Sweeney is the first actual name that has been thrown out there. Just imagine the response once names like Noah Syndergaard start getting tossed around…

  • JoeyCollins

    So what if this possible Sweeney trade is just him for some AA (or below) prospect and we dont trade Garza or Demp to the Red Sox? I mean if the Sox are willing to throw sweeney away in a trade is it possible that Theo wants this guy because he knows him and thinks he fits a particular roll (close to what has been mentioned by brett and others on here) and can get him cheap.

    • White Sox Nation

      Sweeney is a 4th outfielder at best a former highly touted prospect of the White Sox. He is a younger Reed Johnson that’s it!!!! Theo know nothing about Sweeney he was in Oakland last season before coming to Boston.

  • Ivy Walls

    Remember there was talk of a three team deal as well, IF Soriano is dealt with Garza then Sweeney could be a fill in for Soriano or part of larger deal moving a number of players.

    That said I think Rizzo (and T Wood) shows why completing the development of a player is critically as important as talent. B Jackson might be a true talent but he is not ready yet offensively so keeping it warm.

  • Frank

    If they want to give us one of their top 3 prospects+another of their top 10+Ryan Sweeny, I’m OK with that. If not, I’d happily part with Chris Volstad for him, but that’s about it.

  • Big Joe

    I understand he would be a gap-filler, until the guys in the minors are reader; also, only part of a package for either pitcher. With that said, And based on the whole “hey, let’s acquire assets” mentality on the front office…I’m not in favor of including him as a piece in a trade. I’d much rather grab prospects, who are both cheaper, and may have higher upside. Also, LaHair is cheap (cheaper, even?), and much more productive than Sweeney. Makes no sense to me.

  • When the Music’s Over

    Pass

  • BleedBlueinWNeb

    that the all star game decides WS home field advantage is such a joke! seriously i was looking at some numbers and it’s ridiculous…team with home field has won 21 of last 26 world series AND the last NINE game 7’s! yet baseball decides that the best way to decide is through the all star game…just mind boggling. yeah i know before 2003 they just alternated between the two leagues, but it’s a joke that baseball can’t get this right. home field ( and excuse me for stating the obvious ) should go to the team with best record participating in WS. i guess that’s obvious to everyone except the higher ups in baseball, aka Selig.

    flat out stupid.

    then today Emperor Selig says they’ll consider this rule change for HR Derby: that at least one player from hosting city’s team be included! what? Selig said he felt bad for Cano last night…excuse me Bud, but aren’t you the one that decided on this format of picking two captains and then letting them pick their teammates??!! it’s like the league office got sick of having to decide who would participate so they put the onus on the players, and now that it’s backfiring the solution is to make it even more of a farce! so billy butler would have replaced prince, trumbo or joey bats, all of whom did very well last night.

    Selig is a joke.

    • bt

      Yeah, they should change it back to the clearly more logical “switch it between leagues every year”. Yes, the new rule sucks, but the old rule sucked just as bad.

  • Kevin

    Is Theo’s comfort zone limited to his former players ?

    • Tyler

      Sweeney didnt play for theo he was on the A’s and traded this year

  • Serious Cubs Fan

    Matt Garza will be traded to …..? for this package of prospects…..?

  • Jason “Thundermug”

    I have 3 words NO NO NO I don’t want any more trades with Boston for awhile. If Ryan Sweeney is the best player we can get for Garza I say lets keep Garza

    • Serious Cubs Fan

      Sweeney would probably just be throw in type. Not the center piece. How about Barnes, Xander Bogaerts or Jackie Bradley, Brandon Workman for Garza?

  • Kevin

    I’d take 3 triples right now (very good trades) vs going for 3 HRS (excellent trades) and striking out all 3 times.

  • necusfan

    “Picking up Sweeney could actually prove a brilliant stroke, depending on what the related moves are.” Is this sarcasm?

    • Ogyu

      No. The “related moves” could include acquiring cells from the frozen head of Ted Williams and using them to grow a clone… Brilliant!

      • Carew

        wow, that one is out there man

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Does it read like sarcasm given the surrounding context?

      (Does that?)

      • mudge

        must be tough writing articles that generate lots of comments from people who didn’t read the article carefully. what can ya do? certainly not illustrate a complexity for anything like the general public on the internet.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          It certainly requires a … temperament that I only barely possess. I type, and then backspace, many comments.

          • necusfan

            I apologize for offending you with that snarky comment. It was not intentional. In retrospect I should have taken a page out of your book and used the backspace prior to posting. What I meant to say was that the events you laid out in your article that would make a trade for Sweeny brilliant, seem unlikely to occur (to me).

            • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

              You were fine; I just didn’t know if you wanted me to confirm that it wasn’t sarcastic. Just laying out a possibility.

  • Cub Gone Wild

    The only way Campana stays on the ML 25 man going into the future is if he’s the 5th OFer. This front office has no plans to see him start anywhere in the OF on this team. His speed is the only reason he would make the team. He can’t hit for sh*t. I think LaHair is going to be traded to the Dodgers. Loney sucks and they can’t ride him any longer. We will get some pitching from LA for LaHair. I think Baker could be a 1 for 1 swap for Sweeney in Boston. I think Dempster will go to the Diamondbacks and we get top 10 prospects out of their A+ system. I don’t think Sori is going to get moved. I think a team like Texas still comes after Garza. They have the farm system and talent to put together a deal that many of these other teams don’t. Could be the Royals go after Garza they have the talent to pull of a deal.

  • Cub Gone Wild

    I think the Redsox might want Baker as a utility infielder and OF. Sweeney being LH can’t provide them what Baker can down the stretch. I’m going to put the crack pipe down cause it’s a Brilliant idea. Just a good ole 1 for 1 player swap. Theo dude you got to make that happen.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      I would make that trade in a second.

  • Cub Gone Wild

    If we get Sweeney for Baker then we can shit can Johnson and maybe even Mather. Yee Ha a Twin Killing. 2 birds with one stone.

  • Big Joe

    I realize it wasn’t sarcasm, but I guy can dream…

  • ron

    I may be in the minority here but I think that the Cubs need to build their pitching around Smarja, Wood and Garza.

    • Serious Cubs Fan

      Garza is never going to be an ace #2. Smarja is a piece, but not an ace and probably not a #2 either but could be a solid #2, he still has a lot to develop and learn how to pitch instead of just throw (there is big difference). Wood has really improved but I think on a truly great rotation that is going to contend I think he would/could have the potential to be a great #4 or #5. Trade Garza for more assets, by the time the cubs are contending he’ll be leaving his prime.

      • Serious Cubs Fan

        Right now the Cubs farm system or in the bigs they don’t have a clear blue chip ace or projectable #1 starter prospects or players. They have possible projectable #2’s in Dillion Maples, Pierce Johnson, Underwood. But all are a long way a way from the major or at least 2-3 years. You never know we may have a diamond in the rough who will develop into an ace. They are going to need to trade for one, draft, or buy one in free agency in the future because it doesn’t look like we have one in the system.

      • RoughRiider

        I don’t know why, but a lot of people think Matt Garza will be past his prime by the time the Cubs contend again. He’s only 28 !!!. Before expansion (back when there were only 8 teams in both leagues) most pitchers weren’t good until they were 28. A lot of, if not the majority,of pitchers don’t really know how to PITCH until they are 30. Until then they throw.
        I’m not saying it wouldn’t be a good idea to trade him for good young prospects but his age certainly isn’t one of the reasons to trade him. There is no certainty that you will get back the same value or better in a trade. Garza is the type of player you build around.

        • Drew7

          Most pitchers peak around 28-30.

          To SCF’s point: its no surprise the Cubs dont have a projected #1 in their system as there are only a handful, if that, at any given time in all of MiLB.

  • cubsin

    The problem is, the Cubs don’t have a #1, 2 or 3 who’s at all close to ready for MLB.

  • calicubsfan007

    I seriously think that the future rotation will be: FA/ Trade aquisition, Johnson (nickname Ow My Johnson, maybe?), Shark, Underwood (nickname maybe Underdog?), and TWoo.

    • calicubsfan007

      And I think Maples (Maple Syrup nickname maybe?) will be a long reliever.

      • calicubsfan007

        I just noticed that I can’t edit my comments anymore. What gives?

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          Unfortunately a software problem caused the disappearance. I hope it can be solved in the future, but, for now, it’s gone.

  • Toby

    I know this is off topic, but I was looking at the roster for the Cubs AZL and a name caught my eye: Justin Berg. When did the Cubs reacquire him and why is he in the AZL?

    • Jeff

      You head back to AZL to learn a new position, maybe he is learning how to pitch again…lol

  • http://bleachernation.com lou brock lives

    Let’s look at what the Cubs biggest needs are that currently do not exist on the 40 man or in the lower parts of their minor league system. The most glaring holes are at the top of the rotation. As others have stated we are most likely to attain the # 1 & 1A pitchers thru F/A not via trade. We also will have the money to spend on those spots moving forward in 2013 & 2014. Therefore besides targeting some very good arms from others systems via trade where else are our weaknesses ?
    Lead -off hitter & top notch catcher ? We are pretty well set in the OF moving forward with prospects & certainly at 1B, SS, & 3B with all the prospects for that position led by Baez. Therefore we need a speedy, high OBP, guy with some better power than Barney to play 2B & lead off. Then we need a top tier catcher who can play great defense, call a game, & hit for some power. I would use our best trade assets to acquire those 2 everyday position players before I would try to get unproven pitching talent. Toronto should be the trading partner for the catcher – D’Arnaud. The 2B/Leadoff spot try Hamilton from the Reds or Hanson from the Pirates.

    • calicubsfan007

      Lou: I definetly agree with your assessment. I am guessing the only way to pry D’Arnaud is with Garza. And, based on what you said, this would be the most plausible trade for Garza, as the Garza for Turner trade would be highly implausible (and highly unnecessary) for the Cubs. I have no idea how we would get either Hamilton or Hanson, what do you think that the Cubs should trade in order to get them?

    • Richard Nose

      I do like where your head’s at. Filling those 2 holes would be gigantic. I watch a lot of Royals ball cause they’re on more than ChiCubs where I live, I’d love for the Cubs to get a guy like Sal Perez, mule of a catcher, gigantic foreigner, plays incredible D for a 21 yr old, has a look in his eyes like he doesn’t give a damn how his legs feel he’ll just keep catching. Wilson Ramos in Washington too. That position makes me nervous to trade too much for though. D’arnaud would make me nervous too, 195 lb American catcher. I’d rather have a 230 foreigner who grew up in the shitter and doesn’t give a damn. Just not the type of dont-give-a-damn that Soto has, the other type.

  • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

    I didn’t read through all 15+ comments (really? in a Ryan Sweeney thread?!?)
    But I’m not reading it like Brett is.
    The author has two different statements:

    1) One baseball insider suggested the Red Sox are discussing a deal involving outfielder Ryan Sweeney, who will become more expendable once Jacoby Ellsbury returns to action soon after the All-Star break, and the Chicago Cubs are one possible destination.

    2) The Cubs are believed to be listening to offers for two of their starting pitchers: Matt Garza and Ryan Dempster.

    The he correlates the two on his own. For all we know the Cubs are interested in sending over David Dejesus for Sweeney. So I wouldn’t necessarily agree with the statement that the Cubs are interested in Sweeney in a Dempster or Garza deal based on the author’s comments.

    • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

      uh, 150+ comments that is.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Obviously I disagree, but it doesn’t really matter, given what Sweeney is: a throw-in type. That distinction would matter if he was THE guy the Cubs wanted in a deal for Garza or Dempster, but clearly, he wouldn’t be.

      So the point is: the Cubs might have interest in Sweeney. And that’s what is explored.

  • Timmy

    Garza for Sweeney would be an embarrassment. We’ll see what management has up their sleeves this trade deadline, but so far it’s been deuces.

    • MichiganGoat

      Sigh, it is not Garza FOR Sweeny (as has been clearly discussed and explained in the article and comments). He is just a possible throw in that has some potential upside.

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