lukewarm stoveWoe be to the Rangers who have lost Derek Holland for half a season (at least), Yu Darvish for at least the first little bit of the season, Jurickson Profar for two to three months, and Geovany Soto for two to three months. If there’s a team in baseball that could use a nice stopgap addition, it’s probably the Rangers.

Enter the Cubs, a team full of stopgap options and the flexibility to deal them. We’ve already heard about the Rangers’ interest in Cubs backup catcher George Kottaras, but now the interest is reportedly extending into the infield, which was a pretty reasonable guess, given the Profar injury.

Rangers beat writer T.R. Sullivan reports that the Rangers are scouting the Cubs’ infield surplus, and are specifically looking at Darwin Barney and Donnie Murphy, with a preference for Barney. Given the recent questions about Barney’s role with the Cubs, and also the possibility that Ryan Roberts could make the team (thus bouncing Murphy from the roster), those are two pretty obvious names for the Rangers to consider and the Cubs to consider dealing.

Dealing Barney now likely wouldn’t net much in return (though the Cubs would be relieved of his modest $2.3 million salary; Murphy makes $825,000), as he’s coming off of an abysmal year with the bat, and he’d be viewed as a mere utility piece for the Rangers. Pair him with Kottaras in a trade? Well, sure, maybe you get something nice, but try to remain realistic about the kind of return these pieces could net. If Barney were to return to 2011/2012 form with the bat in the first half? The Cubs could probably do better at the deadline than now.

You also have to keep in mind that, at this point in Spring, the market is suddenly flooded with fringe roster guys who didn’t make their previous team, but who might still be decent enough to merit a 25-man roster spot on a needy team. Is Barney (or Murphy) better than a Ronny Cedeno or a Cesar Izturis? Absolutely. But is the difference worth a top ten organizational prospect? I really doubt it.

(A side benefit of trading Barney in a deal like this? It avoids the awkwardness of demoting him to a utility role on the team with which he came up and became a three-year starter, a Gold Glove winner, and a leader. “Chemistry” can be overplayed concept, but there’s a little something to it in situations like this.)

All in all, I still think I’d like to see the Cubs open the year with both Barney and Kottaras on the roster, but – just as I suspect the Cubs are being – I’m flexible. This is another transitional year for the Cubs, and when the right deal presents itself, the Cubs have to be willing to pull the trigger.

  • jp3

    That should be our team motto this year, The Cubs: your one stop shop on stopgap players…

    • ssckelley

      lmao, very good!

    • CubbiesOHCubbies

      I say you just simplify it. 2014 Cubs, your one stop (gap) shop.

      • Spoonerstreet23

        How many stopgaps could a stopgap shop shop if a stopgap shop could shop stopgaps?

  • MightyBear

    As in most items in business or baseball, the devil’s in the details. If Theo/Jed can fleece Daniels again by trading Barney, Kottaras and even the Shark and get a haul for the future, I’m with them. If they don’t get the value they want, stand pat. They hold the cards.

  • Javier Bryant

    I hope they don’t trade Kottaras but I’m not opposed to trading Barney. If Olt wins the 3B job (Looking likely) you move Valbuena and Bonifacio to 2B and maybe even Roberts.

  • terencemann

    The Cubs have so many 2nd tier players who get starting time that I wouldn’t be surprised if half the team doesn’t turn over by next season. There are a lot of teams that don’t have good depth at important places and the Cubs are, unfortunately, a great place to let players get a lot of time to play and see if they’re worth picking up.

  • CubFanBob

    Seeing Alfaro’s arm gun down people in the AFL I wonder what it would cost to get him over here. He would slot perfectly into Tenn. AA.

    • TheDondino

      To net Alfaro, it would have to be a part of a Samardzija or Castro deal.

    • josh ruiter

      I would say to get Alfaro for Barney and Kottaras is reasonable. As young as he is and the level he is at…he is by no means anything more assured than a serviceable backup, and even that is granted health. His ceiling is that of a solid starting catcher, but in these types of trades, to get guys from lower levels with higher ceilings is doable as it meets an immediate and present need. Now if Alfaro doesn’t reach his ceiling he could eerily resemble Kottaras in 3-4 years, in which case the Rangers get the better deal as they meet needs now without having lost much in year in which they are built to win. The Cubs also wouldn’t be too upset with giving up those two guys for the prospect of more success in a couple years. Trade that could be seen as a win for either team with no clear fleecing…but upside for the team giving up the ML players.

      • FullCountTommy

        The Cubs aren’t coming close to Alfaro for Barney and Kottaras, who are essentially a defensive replacement and a backup catcher. Alfaro is a consensus top 50 prospect in all of baseball.

      • Rebuilding

        Daniels would hang up the phone before you got to Kott…. Alfaro (while overrated in my opinion) is one of the Top 3 catching prospects in the game and it’s not like the Rangers have much blocking him (an injured Soto). Would you do that deal in reverse? Or let’s say trade Soler (who’s an equivalent prospect at a less in demand position) for a defensive 2b and a replacement level C? They could sign Ronny Cedeno and wait for Clevenger to be released and be in the same boat — except with Alfaro

        • C. Steadman

          This^ …Just reverse the situation, Rangers fans would be calling for Daniels to be fired if he pulled that trade for their #1 prospect.

        • ssckelley

          Not only hang up the phone but possibly block the number from ever calling again.

      • Big City Mick

        While I agree that the Rangers should be desperate considering they were expected to contend and half of their roster will be out 3 months (exaggeration), I don’t think Barney and Kottaras would net Alfaro. Alfaro’s elite and maybe the best catching prospect in all of baseball. My suggestion was Luke Jackson but even then I think we still might need to kick in someone else, possibly an IF prospect.

        • C. Steadman

          For all the guff you got about Luke Jackson, I read a fangraphs article and he seems like a solid SP prospect. I think it’d have to be Barney and Kottarras just for him…and maybe Rangers still might not do that.

    • Jr 25

      Give them Barney, Kottaras and one of our back end starters (Jackson, Hammel or Rusin/Carlos) for Affalo. Rather see Hendricks pitch than any of those guys.

  • Edwin

    Trades aren’t even always about “fleecing” the other team. It’s about getting the best return for your assets.

    • Funn Dave

      Yeah, it seems some people are a bit spoiled by our last interactions with Texas.

  • The Real Wrigley

    Another way for Barney to avoid the “awkwardness” of a benching/platoon situation?
    Play better.

    • Funn Dave

      Yeah, no kidding. I feel like Barney’s been coddled enough the past year or two because of his defense and alleged teamsmanship (is that a word? It should be).

    • CubFan Paul


  • Spoda17

    Remember when the masses were lambasting Theo for signing all of these fringe players… this is exactly why you do that. We have depth now that other teams need. The fringe players were never thought of as being a piece of the rebuilding, but with the intention to deal for potential pieces of the rebuild.

    Well played sir!

    • The Real Wrigley

      That’s something I can get on board with. I still believe there have been errors…but, your point is taken.

    • Funn Dave

      Actually, for a while people were saying that Barney was in fact a legit rebuilding piece.

    • terencemann

      I’d also like to point out that they really stretched the dollars they spent well. The Cubs are getting a lot more in return for their money than teams like Philly or Milwaukee who have payed worse players more or equivalent money to what the Cubs are paying their players (thinking about last year’s Philies with Delmon and Michael Young and Milwaukee using Alex Gonzalez and Yuni Betancourt last season).

  • JDB

    Interesting quote on mlbtraderumors yesterday from Jon Daniels…”I thought way too short term with the Garza deal last year. That ones got a chance to haunt us and haunt me.” Thought that was interesting to hear from a GM less than a year after the trade and before any of those prospects even make the majors.

    • Jason P

      The other side of that is that Garza was basically useless for them. So even if only 1 of the 4 pieces they sent our way make an impact, the trades still a loss for them.

    • Funn Dave

      Interesting is right. Thanks for posting.

    • terencemann

      This is similar to what he’s always said about acquiring Teixeira from the Angels which is why I’m surprised he payed so much for Garza.

  • pinkstonaa

    Trading Barney now allows for Valbuena/Bonifacio to get more playing time and be flipped at the deadline. I see them outperforming Barney with steady playing time, though Barney probably demands a higher price now.

    • Funn Dave

      I do, too. I’m not sold on his offense improving significantly before the trade deadline–but right now, potential trade targets know that his BABIP is due for some positive regression, so he could get a little benefit of the doubt without actually having to prove anything before a trade.

      • terencemann

        I think it’s clear the Cubs aren’t going to just give Barney away since I’m guessing Detroit would have acquired him if the price were the same as Gonzalez (who’s a much worse fielder and not much better hitter).

  • CubFan Paul

    ““Chemistry” can be overplayed concept”

    It is in this situation. It’s a business, Barney is making arb-money now, and Valbuena/Murphy/Bonafacio/Roberts has better bats, hands down.

    If RR cared about Barney’s team-energy/chemistry he would of not beat around the bush when asked about the 2B starter.

    • Funn Dave

      Yeah. I feel like Barney’s GG defense and what you aptly called team-energy/chemistry have been overplayed and used as excuses for too long now.

  • diamonddon

    I would rather see the Cubs trade Valbuena and keep Barney. Barney is gold glove and adds a lot to the team defensibly. You may even get more for Valbuena who is left handed and has some HR pop in his bat. You win Championships with good pitching and good defense.

  • CubFanBob

    @jcrasnick #rangers have traded for IF Donnie Murphy

    • Greenroom

      Great! Bring on Olt and Kalish!

    • C. Steadman

      This has to basically seal the deal on Olt making the roster, right?

    • Edwin

      And so goes another chance to make Big Lebowski references.

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  • bnile1

    I said yesterday in anothr post that a trade that is screaming to be made would be Villanueva(for depth while their starting pitchers heal, and bullpen when they are back), basically any of the infield depth, and kotteras for one of their more promising starting pitchers. Clears our roster congestion, give texas some servicable pieces and allows them to stay in contention till their other parts are healthy again. Not to mch salaray either way, Price would not be too high and it would help the cubs address an area of need. Win Win.

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