Although Alfonso Soriano is dominating the headlines this week, the Chicago Cubs arguably have two more valuable trade chips in the outfield playing alongside Soriano in David DeJesus and Nate Schierholtz. Each had been dealing with various physical issues – DeJesus just came back from a shoulder strain, and Schierholtz just got some time off for various bumps and bruises – but each appears to be back, healthy, and productive.
Moreover, each of DeJesus and Schierholtz offer an additional year of reasonably-priced team control beyond this season (DeJesus has a $6.5 million team option for 2014, Schierholtz is in his final year of arbitration next year), which adds to their possible trade value.
Of course, then again, that adds to their value to the Cubs, as well. And if the Cubs do end up moving Soriano, they’ll already have one outfielder to replace going into next year. Would they be willing to have as many as three to replace?
Teams are reportedly interested in finding out.
On Schierholtz, who is hitting .277/.334/.521 on the year and making just $2.25 million, the Cubs are reportedly receiving heavy interest from the Pittsburgh Pirates. Bruce Levine reports that the Pirates have been watching Schierholtz closely for a month as they look to improve in right field. Schierholtz is at the top of their list, according to Levine, together with White Sox outfielder Alex Rios (.274/.328/.436 this year, making $12.5 million this and next year, and a $14 million team option for 2015 with a $1 million buyout).
This isn’t the first report we’ve seen regarding Pirate interest in Schierholtz, and they probably aren’t alone in their interest. But given Schierholtz’s value to the Cubs, I doubt he’d be traded for less than solid value. There’s certainly no impetus to make a move for the sake of making a move.
The same is probably true for David DeJesus, though maybe slightly less so, given that DeJesus is four years older than Schierholtz, will likely make more money in 2013, and may be miscast as a center fielder. Still, he’s a productive player (106 OPS+ in center field) and a great teammate, one of whom the Cubs are fond.
“He’s running hard 90 feet down first base to show those kids what it looks like when a big-leaguer plays the game the right way,” Theo Epstein told CSN about DeJesus’s recent stint in Arizona. “So that’s really impressive. It had nothing to do with being traded or not traded, but I wanted to thank him for that. That means a lot. That makes us a better organization when you have guys doing something like that.
“He’s just a really good baseball player that has lived up to his contract. He’s a left-handed bat who has the exact approach we’re trying to teach in this organization.” (The CSN piece is a good read for additional thoughts from Epstein and DeJesus, himself.)
So, given his value and his contract, he definitely won’t be traded, right? Ah, you know better than that.
“Would that make him untouchable? No, no one’s untouchable,” Epstein told CSN. “[But] we’ll weigh out the options [and see] what’s best for the Cubs.”
That’s the appropriate line for any Cubs player going into the Trade Deadline, not just Schierholtz and DeJesus. But when it comes to reasonably valuable and movable trade pieces, the Cubs’ other two outfielders are probably going to draw a lot of interest this week. I tend to doubt the Cubs will affirmatively shop either player, but I expect that the Cubs will listen.