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justin ruggiano featureA number of early-morning bits to share about Cubs players, specifically, as we head into meatiest part of trade season …

  • This is interesting: Jon Heyman reports that the Cubs “rebuffed” the Yankees and other teams who’ve inquired about outfielder Justin Ruggiano. No, the idea isn’t that the Cubs have made a complementary outfielder like Ruggiano untouchable, it’s just that they might value him – and the cost-effective control he brings over the next two years – more than the marginal prospect return he could reasonable net. Heyman expects that the Cubs would have the same philosophy with respect to Chris Coghlan. On the year, the 32-year-old Ruggiano has a 124 wRC+, and the 29-year-old Coghlan has a 119 wRC+. Dudes have been good.
  • Philosophically, I mostly agree with the Cubs here. You can only have so much prospect depth (especially once Rule 5 and 40-man roster considerations come into play), and, at some point, it is worth hanging onto marginal guys who’ve shown they can be big-league-worthy players (even if not impact starters), rather than trading them for fringe prospects that you *hope* will one day become marginal guys who’ve shown they can be big-league-worthy players. The Cubs’ near-term outfield picture is a mess, and I can understand wanting to hang onto guys like Ruggiano and Coghlan who could be quality back-ups or fringe starters next year as the youngsters transition in (and they are also decent fall-back plans if the Cubs can’t land an impact outfield starter this Winter).
  • … and, of course, you always leave open the possibility that what the Cubs are really saying is that they’ll trade Ruggiano and Coghlan, but they believe the two outfielders have legit value (especially in an extremely weak offensive trade market), and they won’t deal them for anything less than a notable return.
  • Where does all of this leave Nate Schierholtz (FA after this year) and Ryan Sweeney (cheap team control, but struggling this year)? I suspect the Cubs would gladly deal the former if there were any takers. On Sweeney, he’s had some hard luck this year, and the team control is so cheap, I could see the Cubs also wanting to hang onto him. Then re-evaluate your outfield bench players in the offseason when you see what else you’ve been able to do out there.
  • The names Heyman emphasizes as possible trade pieces for the Cubs this week should be no surprise: Emilio Bonifacio, Wesley Wright, and James Russell. The reliever market has become so crowded that I wonder whether the Cubs will be able to get a reasonable return for either lefty. On Bonifacio, though, I think there’s quite a bit of bench value there. Heyman says he’s drawing interest. Good thing he returned healthy from the oblique strain last week.
  • Mark Gonzales reports that, among the teams watching the Cubs last night: the Mariners, Giants, Brewers, and Blue Jays. Caveating that the Rockies are probably sellers, too, we can note that the Brewers are known to be looking for a reliever, the Mariners are looking for a number of upgrades, the Giants are looking for a second baseman, and the Blue Jays are looking for arms and maybe an infielder (depending on how they view recently-acquired Danny Valencia).
  • Gonzales says the Giants were likely looking at Emilio Bonifacio, and the Dodgers are known to be interested in James Russell.
  • Gordon Wittenmyer says the Cubs are active in trade discussions on a number of fronts, but may not sell off a huge number of pieces this week, because they may prefer to keep some of the guys who are under control for next year.
  • Dave Kaplan scuttled the Jake Arrieta trade rumors yesterday, thankfully, and elaborated a bit more on Sports Talk Live, saying (this is me paraphrasing) that the Cubs would consider dealing anyone, but the practical effect of the system-gutting return it would take is to say that, no, they’re not trading him. Arrieta is staying. Bro fist bump.

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