stoveUntil the Draft – and especially in the weeks that lead up to it – teams rarely focus the weight of their front office energy on trade talks. I’d imagine conversations still happen, but the bulk of the work takes place after the Draft has happened, and the muscle has an opportunity to shift focus.

It isn’t just a matter of attentional deficiency, of course – until mid-June, save for a handful of obvious exceptions, you really can’t have a great sense of what teams are going to be sufficiently “in” it to make acquisition deals, or sufficiently “out” of it to make sell deals. And, even the teams that are obvious sellers or buyers are reluctant to make a move until the market is fully developed – otherwise, you might overpay or under-acquire.

Don’t expect a flurry of movement in the next few weeks, but you can expect a flurry of rumors. Like these …

  • Because we’ve entered the meat of the rumor season, it’s time to really start focusing on the market – which is to say, which teams will be selling, which teams buying, and which teams standing pat? The Cubs are extremely likely to be sellers, so you’d obviously prefer to see as few other sellers on the market as possible. Checking records will only get you so far, as there are teams with bad records – the Angels and Dodgers, most notably – that don’t figure to be sellers, based on the configurations of their rosters. For some teams that have been losing, it’s going to be interesting to see the direction they take. The Blue Jays obviously took a “go for it” tack in the offseason, picking up R.A. Dickey and the Marlins in trade, but the results so far have been disappointing. Would they cut bait and sell? Nick Cafardo reports that not even those in the front office know whether they’ll become sellers. With a number of tradable pieces, they’ll be a close one to watch.
  • Separately, Cafardo says that Astros starter Bud Norris is very likely to be moved, and is pitching well this year (3.43 ERA over 76 innings). If I could do so without sounding defensive about the market for starting pitchers, I’d note that some of Norris’s peripherals this year are actually worse than in years past – his strikeout rate is way down, for example – and his xFIP is a healthy 4.51. He offers a team that acquires him two years of control beyond this year, but they are arbitration years that won’t necessarily come cheap (he makes $3 million this year, his first in arbitration).
  • Speaking of other pitching options muddying the trade market: With the White Sox skidding (thanks in no small part to the Cubs) and in last place in the AL Central, the possibility that they become a seller is increasing. Their best trade piece is arguably Jake Peavy … or it was until he broke his rib. He was pitching well and was on a moveable contract, but now that he’s out for four to six weeks, it’s debatable whether he could net enough in return at the deadline to justify moving him. Even if he comes back on the lighter end of the injury spectrum, he’ll have just four weeks or so to re-establish himself as both healthy and effective.
  • Phillies GM Ruben Amaro doesn’t offer too much clarity as to whether his struggling team will become sellers when late July rolls around, but he does tell CSN that he’s not interested in “blowing up” the roster. They might make a move or two for the future, but they won’t sell off the entire roster. As far as the Cubs are concerned, however, that “move or two” could be enough to disrupt the market – for example, if the Phillies make Cliff Lee widely available. The only good news on that front is that Lee can block trades to 20 teams, tying the Phillies’ hands slightly.
  • MLBTR looks at Scott Feldman as a trade candidate, noting that his success this year is likely not sustainable at its currently level – but isn’t a load of hooey, either. As I’ve said before, Feldman’s value in trade (as a rental) is at its highest when paired with another piece – and MLBTR agrees – he, alone, could net a top ten prospect from an average system, together with another piece in the 10 to 15 range. That’s just about where I’d land in a projection, too. I can’t see Feldman, even if he keeps dominating, netting a top 100 prospect – but an organizational top 10? Maybe even one in the 100 to 150 range in baseball? Definitely possible, especially if the trade market remains thin.
  • JulioZuleta

    I think Feldman gets traded relatively early. First week of July or earlier is my guess. Could be interesting to see what happens with Travis Wood. Doesn’t fit the mold of guys the Cubs would like to sell, but you have to wonder if they’ll get a big offer from someone due to his (likely unsustainable) performance this year.

    • corey costello

      He’s not going anywhere. He’s one of Bazio’s special projects.

      • YourResidentJag

        Actually, I agree. Garza and Castillo–to the Yankees maybe, but for who?

        • X the Cubs fan

          Gary Sanchez and Manny Banuelos?

  • Ben (BG2383)

    I would love to get a top10 from a decent system and an A-baller with projection for Feldman. The signing would have to be considered a big win if that occurs. I am most interested in seeing if any of the Blue Jays, Dodgers, Angels, or any other team pulls a Redsox-Dodgers 2012 type of deal

  • steve123

    I would like to see Feldman sent to the Orioles for Eduardo Rodriguez, a nice 20 year old lefty with a few years under his belt. He has also had a solid ERA up to this point. Its also easy to root for Feldman on the O’s versus a team like the Yankees.

  • Drew

    Give us a heads up for what you have in mind for the TRADE DEADLINE MARATHON this year? How much are we going to have to pony up to get you to do it again?

    Thanks Brett for all you do!

  • Patrick G

    Absolutely love rumor season

  • Will

    Would a pairing of Feldman and DeJesus be able to net 2 or an organizations top 10, with 1 being a top 100?

    Should the Cubs consider moving James Russell to a team like the Braves? Given his controlability and inexpensive contract shouldn’t he be able to net a top 10 and a top 20 from a team?

  • tom

    should be very FEW untradeable players

  • When the Music’s Over

    Lee is also owed $25M/year from 2014 – 2015 (and the pro-rated amount for this year), with a club option in 2016 for $27.5M. Unless the Phillies are willing to eat part of that money, the huge per year commitment might impact his tradeability, especially for middle/small market teams.

    • When the Music’s Over

      The buyout in 2016 is also a monster at $12.5M.

    • When the Music’s Over

      Crap, and that option has a good chance of becoming fully guaranteed: “Option becomes guaranteed if Lee 1) is not on the disabled list at end of 2015 season with injury to left elbow or left shoulder, and 2) has 200 IP in 2015 or 400 IP in 2014-15”

      From Cots Contracts

  • jt

    There are 750 MLB players at any one time. Most of them keep their jobs for several years.
    There are 300 organizational top ten farm guys.
    Should The Cubs trade Feldman for someone who is currently in the minor lg’s and who nay be 300th best in a list of players who have never spent a day it “the show”?
    I’d rather see the money spent to extend him if that is the choice.

    • gocatsgo2003

      Except for the EXTREME over-simplification… those 300 players are likely somewhat overlapped with the 750 MLB players and many are on an upward trajectory as compared to those in the majors but at the tail end of their careers.

      • jt

        There are 320 positional jobs in MLB at any one time.
        Assume the 5 man rotation on each team, then there are 150 SP’ers in MLB at any one time. Guys that have jobs don’t give them up without a fight.
        Feldman has earned one of those 470 premium jobs and is performing well and is projected to perform well into the future.
        Upward trajectory not withstanding, not many of those 300 are ever going to be much more than bench players or middle relief pitchers.
        I don’t see the wisdom of trading that proven for a might be or could be… maybe.
        For Feldman I want talent, proven talent!

  • FastBall

    I agree with JT. We finally get some decent starting pitching and we want to selll it off. But 2014 was supposed to be a year we would be competitive. That’s what everyone was saying last year at this time. Well if we get rid of the only decent part of this roster we are surely screwed going into 2014. I say re-sign Feldman and Garza. We don’t have anything even close to being ready to fill their shoes. If all we can get is organizational top 10’s then we should keep these guys. Get rid of the boat anchors on this roster. We have plenty of them.

    • Kyle

      The starting pitching in question is not under contract for 2014.

      You could sign it to a new contract, but what makes them different from all the other free agent pitchers in that regard?

      • jt

        You can negotiate with roster members during the season. Those not in the organization… you’d have to be pretty sneaky.

    • Patrick G

      They won’t this is exactly why they signed Feldman. If they trade Feldman and garza, they still have Wood, Ejax, Samardzjia, Baker and Villanueva. They might not even trade Garza and re-sign him so I’m sure losing 1 starting pitcher for younger players won’t hurt for next season. I think more of the issue for next year is bullpen and consistent hitting

      • Kyle

        They signed Feldman to help them win baseball games. The possibility of flipping him was a secondary consideration.

        • Patrick G

          Ya and their 25-35. As great as he is performing, he has not shown this good of a track record. If they can get valuable pieces for him he’ll be traded.

          • Headscratchin

            I live in the Dallas area and I can tell you the Ranger fans I know don’t want Feldman back. Most were very happy to see him walk after last year. Just too inconsistent and had a knack for having a bad game at exactly the worst possible time.

    • frank

      Yes–at some point, you have to keep players who are performing–so if they fit the competitive window, keep them and build around them, unless you can get established players who, maybe due to position or area of roster weakness, put you in a stronger position to win.

      • Voice of Reason

        I appreciate what you are saying, but Feldman isn’t someone you want to build your team around.

        They need to trade him before he comes back to reality.

  • http://deleted Mr. Gonzo

    The trade winds can swirl for or against your opinion, but one thing is pretty certain – the odds are incredibly unlikely the Cubs make the playoffs this year. Might as well flip a few movable guys with contracts up at the end of the season, or next, for some promising prospects who could fit into the core. Yeah, they lose a few more games, but they also get a better 2014 draft pick, shown good judgment in cherry picking the FA ranks for a few more gems – however slim the pickens – and will continue to build for when the core hits MLB like a runaway train never coming back. On a one way track.

    • jt

      Feldman has a 2.84 ERA and a WHIP of 1.170 over 66 IP
      I wouldn’t argue that with anyone who expects him to have an ERA of close to 4.00 over his next 20 starts. But that is much more valuable than the 10th best prospect in anybodies system.
      To be clear, I am not against trading Feldman. I want them to trade Feldman. But they are bartering with a good player and I would want something more than a “might be” in return.

      • http://deleted Mr. Gonzo

        For sure, they could even package Feldman with a DeJesus or even Garza and get back the safest bet and biggest impact talent you can squeeze out of them. But if it ain’t there, don’t do it. You can’t always slap the thigh and ride the wave in.

        • cub2014

          Trade Feldman and Villanueva but try and resign
          Garza. With Garza,samardijza,wood and jackson
          that gives you a soiid core. You still have Rusin,
          Cabrera,Hendricks,Baker and Vizcaino to fill that
          last spot. If you think you are ready to compete
          next year then you go after a stud starter.

          • cub2014

            Feldman has era around 4 every other year
            and a 5 era the opposite years. So trade high
            on feldman just like dempster and maholm
            last year.

    • Scott

      Plus, if the FO feels like Feldman is their best rotation option for next year they could go out and try to sign him again next year.

  • TLarson

    Gonzo, I agree with you completely!

  • Dustin S

    I’d agree with tom above, it’s going to be easier to make an “untouchable” list this year than to list trade pieces. Everyone’s available at a price (always have to throw that in), but I honestly don’t see more than 4-5 players max total between Iowa and Chicago combined that won’t be pretty readily available. Even that might be a stretch. Unless I’m missing someone, the names I’m thinking are…

    basically untouchable:
    Rizzo – as close to untouchable as the Cubs have.
    Samardzija – Wildcard! (for Sunny fans) untouchable as long as they are confident they can sign him to an extension.

    unlikely to go:
    Wood – can’t really totally empty the starting rotation, but I’m sure they’ll listen.
    Castro – unlikely to go due to recent performance and contract, so not wanting to sell low more than anything.
    Lake – barely on the list, but it would be nice to see what he could do.

    Other than that, it will be Theo doing his best Monte Hall impression to pull off as many deals as they can. Brett made the point too that it probably won’t be more than 3-4 trades max though just due to how hard it is to actually make them. But the “on the block” list is going to be a long one.

    • Scott

      Due to the control the Cubs have over Wood and the reasonable price tag that comes with that control, I have a hard time seeing Wood being moved.

    • jt

      I agree!
      But I don’t see it as a dump Byrd and Soto.
      I just want good young players who are “just around the corner”.
      The Cubs would be sending a player capable of helping a team to the playoffs.
      The receiving team has to pay.

      • Scott

        Of course you don’t want to give anyone away. If we can get someone who can provide help and is “just around the corner” you pull the trigger. Even if you can net a player that could help in the next couple of years for an expiring contract, I think you need to make the deal.

  • The Dude Abides

    Read Braves may consider flipping Maholm when Beachy comes back in a couple of weeks. Believe when I see it he been a main stay of the rotation since the Cubs shipped over last year.

  • Jono

    Does gregg have trade value? Sorry if this was already asked

  • Brandon

    I have no problems extending Feldman…what do we have ready to replace him? I really liked this signing…better production than I thought…but he was pretty good in Texas last year. I just don’t want to give him up for a maybe…we still need pitching and he’s doing a damn good job.

  • dan

    Feldman will bring a top 20 player in the minors he is that valuable