With the All-Star Game in the rearview mirror, the trade season tends to pick up in the second half of July (the rumor season started way early this year, but not so much on the actual dealing).

  • Ryan Dempster is slated pitch for the Cubs on Saturday, the second game after the break, and, assuming he’s not dealt before then, there will be upwards of 10 teams present to scout Dempster, a source tells Bruce Levine. With a league best 1.99 ERA, Dempster is on a number of teams’ radars, and the Cubs are looking to get the best package possible for the soon-to-be free agent (who will have to approve the trade, though that isn’t expected to be an issue). Given that Dempster is largely a known quantity, I think you can assume that the scouts in attendance will mostly be looking to confirm that Dempster appears healthy. So, if he seems fine, but pitches poorly, I wouldn’t be too worried about his value taking a hit. But, you know, obviously it would be nice if he pitches well …
  • Speaking of pitching well, Matt Garza continues to be on as many radars as Dempster, and each start is being heavily scrutinized (though, like Dempster, Garza is largely a known quantity at this point). You can add another team to the mix for Garza, too: the Dodgers. Although the Dodgers have long been considered the “favorite” to land Dempster, they’ve apparently also talked to the Cubs about Garza. While the Dodgers are a good fit as a trade partner for the Cubs in the sense that their best prospects tend to be pitchers, they do not have an elite farm system. Nor do they have a preference for dealing top prospects in order to save some cash in a trade – they’re all too happy to take on full contracts. The Cubs, obviously, would prefer to send cash along to get better prospects in trade.
  • I’m not a prospecting hound, but my sense of the Dodgers’ system is that it would be tough for them to put together a great package for Garza, assuming there were other bidders. Dempster looks like a better fit, possibly together with a Bryan LaHair, or a lesser bat like Jeff Baker or Reed Johnson.
  • The Angels are interested in Zack Greinke, if he becomes available. That could impact the Cubs in a couple of ways: (1) Since we haven’t heard them attached to Garza or Dempster, the Angels getting Greinke could help the Cubs in their efforts to deal Garza or Dempster; and (2) wait a minute: if they want Greinke, why not Garza or Dempster?
  • Bruce Levine chatted yesterday, and … (1) Ryan Dempster will “definitely” be traded, but it might take another start or two before a team pulls the trigger on the best offer (Bruce mentions the Dodgers, Braves, and Indians as possibilities); (2) there’s a “good likelihood” that Paul Maholm will be traded, too, as he’s a valuable back-end starter with a good contract; (3) Jeff Baker and Reed Johnson are also likely to be traded; (4) Levine also thinks Garza will be traded (he offered a lot of that type of opinion – I agree with him on all five, by the way, but it can be hard to actually finalize that many trades (plus any bullpen deals, and/or guys like LaHair or DeJesus); (5) Darwin Barney is another guy who has more value to a contender than to the Cubs, so he’ll be shopped, but Bryan LaHair might have more value to the Cubs than to another team (I don’t really see the distinction there, and I could argue it the other way around if I were inclined); (6) Alfonso Soriano probably won’t be traded at this point – the interest just isn’t there right now; (7) Bruce expects the Cubs’ payroll to be under $90 million next year;


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