The Complete 2011 Chicago Cubs Trade Candidates and Rumors Cheat Sheet

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The Complete 2011 Chicago Cubs Trade Candidates and Rumors Cheat Sheet

Chicago Cubs

As we approach the All-Star break, and, thereafter, the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, the rumor season is fully upon us. So, with that in mind, it’s time to perform a complete rundown of every tradable (in theory) Chicago Cubs player.

Below are the names of each player, together with their age and contract situation (from Cot’s), their relevant 2011 stats, the Cubs’ desire to trade that player, the possible return in a trade, and the likelihood that a trade actually happens. I’ve heard a few rumblings on some of the players over the last few weeks, so I’ve sprinkled in some rumors where appropriate. As an aside, don’t forget to “like” BN on Facebook for the latest Cubs rumors piped into your Facebook feed.

The players are listed in positional order alphabetically (i.e., pitchers in alphabetical order first, then catchers, then infielders, then outfielders).

Ryan Dempster

Age and Contract: Turned 34 in May; 2011 – $13.5 million, 2012 – $14 million (player option). No-trade rights.

Stats: 4.99 ERA in 18 starts (106.1 innings), but has been around 3.25 in the last couple months.

Cubs’ Desire to Trade Him: Low.

Possible Return: Full salary relief and a couple B prospects. No one will give up a top 50 prospect for Dempster (which is what I’m told Jim Hendry wants), but they’d take on his full salary and would send a couple good prospects.

Likelihood of Trade: Low. Dempster enjoys Chicago, has no-trade rights, and the Cubs will need to retain a starter or two for 2012.

Matt Garza

Age and Contract: Turns 28 in November; 2011 – $5.95 million, 2012 – Arbitration eligible (est. $8.5 million), 2013 – Arbitration eligible (est. $11 million).

Stats: 3.77 ERA in 15 starts (93 innings). Has a 1.27 WHIP and has struck out 95.

Cubs’ Desire to Trade Him: Very Low.

Possible Return: Full salary relief and a boatload of excellent prospects. Debate whether it’s fair to ask, but the Cubs would not accept anything less for Garza than what they traded to get him. And, in case you’ve blocked it from your memory, the Cubs gave up a top 50 type prospect, a top 100 type prospect, a couple B prospects, and Superman Sam Fuld.

Likelihood of Trade: Low. Unsurprisingly, teams have asked about Garza (among others, I’ve heard the Yankees are poking around). But he’s is under control for two more years after this one (though not exceptionally cheap), and is young enough that he could headline the rotation going forward for a while yet.

John Grabow

Age and Contract: Turns 33 in November; 2011 – $4.8 million.

Stats: 5.45 ERA in 34.2 innings. Has a 1.56 WHIP, but lefties are hitting just .192/.276/.327 against him.

Cubs’ Desire to Trade Him: GO AWAY.

Possible Return: A small amount of salary relief and an organizational filler player. The Cubs might get $1 million or so in salary relief, but that’s the most they can hope to get. The Cubs once got Justin Berg for a couple months of Matt Lawton, so anything’s possible, but don’t expect a Grabow trade to net anyone you’ll ever hear from again.

Likelihood of Trade: Medium. The Cubs would obviously have no issue with moving Grabow – the issue is finding a team to take him.

Carlos Marmol

Age and Contract: Turns 29 in October; 2011 – $3.2 million, 2012 – $7 million, 2013 – $9.8 million. Some no-trade rights.

Stats: 2.27 ERA in 39.2 innings. Has struck out a nutty 52, but he’s just 17 of 22 in save opportunities. Kind of important for a closer.

Cubs’ Desire to Trade Him: Low.

Possible Return: Somewhat hard to gauge. Certainly, a trade partner would take on the entire contract, as it’s fairly reasonable (albeit incredibly backloaded). But Marmol’s erratic performance and declining velocity might scare teams off from sending a top prospect or two, despite Marmol’s dominating stuff. The best guess is that the Cubs could get a top 100 type prospect, and a couple B prospects for Marmol – which makes you wonder whether they should really entertain dealing him.

Likelihood of Trade: Low. Given Marmol’s age and contract, the Cubs would probably be satisfied letting him remain their closer for the next few years, regardless of what happens around him.

Sean Marshall

Age and Contract: Turns 29 in August; 2011 – $1.6 million, 2012 – $3.1 million.

Stats: All-Star-like 2.29 ERA and 1.14 WHIP in 39.1 innings. Has struck out 40, and he’s been as effective against righties as he has against lefties.

Cubs’ Desire to Trade Him: Low.

Possible Return: Probably less than he’s worth. Marshall is cheap, lefty, relatively young and wildly effective. But, because he’s a mere “setup man,” the return for him would likely be less than if he were a “closer.” It’s the silly world of labels in which we live. As it stands, Marshall could probably net one top 100 type prospect. Unless the Cubs could get more, it’s just not worth trading him.

Likelihood of Trade: Low. Say it again: Marshall is cheap, lefty, relatively young and wildly effective. The Cubs have no reason to trade him unless they’re bowled over by an offer, which is unlikely to come for a guy like Marshall. The Yankees have inquired about Marshall (and Garza – can you imagine if the Cubs moved both in one deal? Unless the return was insane, there would be rioting in the streets), but it remains unlikely anything happens.

Jeff Samardzija

Age and Contract: Turned 26 in January; 2011 – ~ $2 million, 2012 and 2013 – club options totaling $6.5 million. Some no-trade rights.

Stats: 3.78 ERA in 47.2 innings, with a 1.45 WHIP. His stuff, at times, has looked pretty great this year.

Cubs’ Desire to Trade Him: Low.

Possible Return: Full salary relief and a B/C, high upside type prospect. If the Cubs managed to trade Samardzija, his salary wouldn’t be an issue (unless his options become guaranteed by trade, which is unknown at this point). But the return would be no better than a younger version of Samardzija: namely, some kid with talent, but no reasonable guarantee that he’ll ever put it together.

Likelihood of Trade: Low. Samardzija is just now starting to show that he may have value out of the pen, and the Cubs’ brass is still hopeful that his future is as a late-inning reliever. His value to the Cubs, therefore, is probably higher than his perceived value to another team – that makes a trade unlikely.

Randy Wells

Age and Contract: Turns 29 in August; 2011 – $475k, 2012 – Arbitration eligible (est. $2.5 million), 2013 – Arbitration eligible (est. $4 million), 2014 – Arbitration eligible (est. $7 million).

Stats: 6.59 ERA in 8 starts (42.1 innings). The forearm injury has clearly affected him, as he was a top 25 starter in the NL in each of the previous two seasons.

Cubs’ Desire to Trade Him: Very low.

Possible Return: A couple B prospects, or a high salary ML player. Pretty stark difference there, but that’s because Wells is more of a trade chip than a piece to be sold. His value is lower than it would have been last year, but given his contract, age, and prior effectiveness, Wells is a guy who could bring back a couple prospects or could be used to bring in ML talent.

Likelihood of Trade: Low. There are reasons that other teams would be attracted to Wells, particularly the sabermetrically-inclined teams. His health is an issue, and because he’s so cheap, the Cubs would just as soon keep him around and see if he can return to form in 2012.

Kerry Wood

Age and Contract: Turned 34 in June; 2011 – $1.5 million. No-trade rights.

Stats: 2.39 ERA in 26.1 innings. The WHIP keeps creeping up, though, and stands at an unattractive 1.48.

Cubs’ Desire to Trade Him: Medium.

Possible Return: The salary is so minuscule that it wouldn’t be an issue. In fact, because the salary is so minuscule – and the commensurate ability to offer arbitration and then get a draft pick after the season – the return on Wood would probably be quite high. It would have the potential, even, to be a top 100 type prospect, or at least two very good B level prospects.

Likelihood of Trade: Low. Wood has all but said he’d veto any trade, and the Cubs aren’t likely to even ask him to accept a trade given the sweetheart deal he took to come “home.” I list the desire to trade him as medium, however, because he could bring back a very nice return if he were willing to be dealt. Thus, the Cubs would be crazy not to want to deal him at least a little bit.

Carlos Zambrano

Age and Contract: Turned 30 in June; 2011 – $17.875 million, 2012 – $18 million, 2013 – Vesting option (which won’t vest unless Z has an insane 2012 season).

Stats: 4.34 ERA in 18 starts (112 innings). Zambrano’s WHIP is 1.37, and he no longer strikes guys out at the rate he once did (just 75 Ks this year).

Cubs’ Desire to Trade Him: Higher than medium, but lower than high.

Possible Return: Salary relief or a couple decent prospects, but not both. Zambrano is worth perhaps half of his salary, so, if the Cubs wanted to actually see prospects back in a trade, they would have to eat as much as half of the remaining dollars on Z’s deal. Otherwise, they could just hope for cash. Getting a team to take on 2/3 of the money owed to Z, as well as a couple B prospects, would be a coup.

Likelihood of Trade: Low. Although Zambrano has said he would be willing to waive his no-trade clause if the Cubs asked him, he’s also said repeatedly that he loves Chicago and wants to stay. And, while he is just 30, his arm looks about 35. He’s expensive, declining, and disruptive. It would be hard to find a match, particularly when the Cubs don’t mind letting him come back in 2012 and take a rotation spot.

Koyie Hill

Age and Contract: Turned 32 in March; 2011 – $850k, 2012 – Arbitration eligible (est. Too much).

Stats: .224/.287/.353, which is actually something of a banner year for the career .585 OPSer.

Cubs’ Desire to Trade Him: Like, whatever man.

Possible Return: You’d think the answer here would be nothing. But, with catching at a premium, and Hill’s apparent ability to secure and exploit naked pictures of management, I wouldn’t be surprised if he could net a C prospect with a tiny chance of upside.

Likelihood of Trade: Medium. I know we’ve said it for two years now, but 2011 has got to be the end of the line for Koyie Hill. Sure, the pitchers apparently love him, but the guy will be 33 next year, and will cost upwards of $1 million. The options here are to non-tender him and try to get him back dirt cheap (but why?), or trade him now to some catching-desperate team. Welington Castillo is almost certainly the future at catcher (whether as Geovany Soto’s backup, or as the starter), so there shouldn’t be a place going forward for Hill. But, as I said, caveat naked pictures.

Geovany Soto

Age and Contract: Turned 28 in January; 2011 – $3 million, 2012 – Arbitration eligible (est. $5.25 million) ; 2013 – Arbitration eligible (est. $7.5 million).

Stats: .230/.324/.416, but a slow start (he was .220/.312/.341 in April) is dragging him down a bit. He’s caught 34% of guys stealing this year, good for third in all of baseball.

Cubs’ Desire to Trade Him: Low.

Possible Return: The contract is not an issue – and indeed would be attractive to another team. Although Soto’s offensive production has been up and down, when it’s up, he’s a top three offensive catcher in baseball. And his defense has always been slightly above average. Don’t let this frustrating year fool you: Soto is very, very valuable. He could net a top 100 type prospect and a B prospect or two. It’s possible he could even fetch a top 50 prospect.

Likelihood of Trade: Low. Even if the Cubs believe Welington Castillo can succeed as the Cubs’ starting catcher, that’s a risk that they needn’t take. Soto isn’t as young as some folks seem to think (he’s always described as young, wherever you read about him), but he could remain the Cubs’ starter at catcher through the next building phase with ease. If a desperate team makes a serious offer, though, the Cubs will absolutely consider it.

Jeff Baker

Age and Contract: Turned 30 in June; 2011 – $1.175 million, 2012 – Arbitration eligible (est. $1.75 million).

Stats: .313/.333/.438 in 128 overall at bats, but he’s been killing lefties: .403/.420/.567 in 67 at bats.

Cubs’ Desire to Trade Him: Medium.

Possible Return: There could be some debate here. Baker’s contract would be taken on, no problem. But as for the return, some would argue that Baker’s best comparable is a guy like Mark DeRosa – a utility right-hander who can play anywhere and hit off the bench. The return on DeRosa when the Cubs traded him was three B level prospects (one of whom subsequently ascended to A status (Chris Archer)). But Baker doesn’t have the same consistent track record of success, nor does anyone believe he could be a full-timer if given a shot. Then again, he’s younger than DeRosa was, and a whole lot cheaper. I think Baker could net a good B prospect, or a B and a high upside C prospect.

Likelihood of Trade: Medium. The Cubs certainly have no need to trade Baker, as he’ll be very cheap next year, and is useful on any team. At the same time, the Cubs have a number of kids coming up as soon as next year (DJ LeMahieu, Ryan Flaherty, Marquez Smith, Marwin Gonzalez, to name a handful) who could fill his role. Baker’s injuries this year also play a role in a possible trade. Is his groin fully healed? How bad are his back spasms? Ultimately, I think the Cubs will listen to a number of offers on Baker, and there’s a 50/50 shot he’s dealt.

Blake DeWitt

Age and Contract: Turns 26 in August; 2011 – $460k, 2012 – Arbitration eligible (est. $900k); 2013 – Arbitration eligible (est. $1.5 million); 2014 – Arbitration eligible (est. $3 million).

Stats: .263/.277/.362 in 152 at bats, and he continues his weird reverse split: he’s hitting .360/.385/.440 against lefties.

Cubs’ Desire to Trade Him: Low.

Possible Return: The contract is not an issue, as DeWitt is likely to be very cheap for another three years. But despite DeWitt’s youth, I can’t see another team paying much to get him. Whatever upside he has remains very much latent. He never hit particularly well in the minors, and his defense is below average everywhere but third base – a position for which he’ll likely never have the bat. DeWitt could possibly be used in a “buy” type deal, but if the Cubs “sell” him, it’s hard to imagine them getting more than a couple of upside fringe prospects (“fringe” either because they’re older, or because the upside is merely medium).

Likelihood of Trade: Low. By increasing DeWitt’s versatility this year by playing him in left field, the Cubs also increased his value – both to other teams and themselves. Much like with Jeff Baker, the Cubs have a number of kids coming up who could fill a role similar to the one DeWitt is playing this year. But at just 25, it remains possible that DeWitt could develop into a starter. With the third base picture for 2012 cloudy at best, and with Darwin Barney’s grip on the second base job something short of a death grip, the Cubs will probably play it safe and hang onto DeWitt.

Carlos Pena

Age and Contract: Turned 33 in May; 2011 – $10 million ($5 million to be paid in January 2012).

Stats: .225/.334/.453, but he’s been killing it post-April. He’s also playing Gold Glove defense with a bunch of dicey arms throwing him the ball.

Cubs’ Desire to Trade Him: Higher than medium, slightly lower than high.

Possible Return: The Cubs owe Pena about $2 million more this year, and then $5 million of deferred salary next year. It’s likely they could get another team to take all of that on, but the return in that instance would probably be a good B prospect, but little more. If the Cubs were willing to pay that $5 million in deferred money, Pena instantly becomes an incredibly valuable trade chip; the Cubs could even ask for a top 100 type prospect as well as a solid B prospect and they wouldn’t be laughed out of the room.

Likelihood of Trade: Higher than medium, slightly lower than high. How aggressively the Cubs shop Pena will go a long to way to establishing how sincerely they plan to pursue Albert Pujols or Prince Fielder in the offseason. The Cubs don’t have a serious internal candidate to play first in 2012, so, after Pujols and Fielder, Pena is their best option. If they don’t trade him, the Cubs could offer Pena arbitration at the end of the year, and that would offer a little bit of protection if they can’t land either of the big two. Still, I think it’s more likely that the Cubs trade Pena, and pick up a back-up plan for first base from outside the organization (why do you think the Cubs are so interested in the Rangers’ Chris Davis, a guy who can play first or third base?). The Cubs have been pinged by a number of teams on Pena, including his former team, the Rays.

Aramis Ramirez

Age and Contract: Turned 33 in June; 2011 – $14.6 million, 2012 – $16 million (club option; $2 million buyout). No-trade rights.

Stats: .295/.340/.487, with 13 homers and 46 RBI. And he now leads all NL third baseman in just about every important offensive category.

Cubs’ Desire to Trade Him: Medium.

Possible Return: It truly depends on the contract. Ask five people and you’ll get five different answers on Ramirez’s 2012 option. Some say it becomes guaranteed if he’s traded. Some say he’ll use his no-trade rights unless the receiving team picks up the option. Some say the guarantee clause expired last year. Whatever the case, I’ll take the middle road and assume that Ramirez will not approve a trade unless the team agrees to pick up his 2012 option. In that case, the Cubs would have to kick in serious money to get a deal done – I’m not sure another team would take him and his contract on for more than organizational filler in return. If the Cubs were willing to eat $5 to $10 million of his deal, however, they might well be able to net a few good B prospects; maybe even a top 100 type in there.

Likelihood of Trade: Low. Ramirez holds all of the cards, and he’s said that, for now, he’s not interested in approving a trade. If he waits until after the non-waiver trade deadline to become open to a trade (his family will have returned to the Dominican Republic by then), the Cubs may be limited in the locations to which they can trade him (I could see a desperate team claiming him on waivers, leaving the Cubs with the option to trade him to that team or not trade him at all). Even if Ramirez agrees to the idea of a trade before July 31, there are so many moving parts – not the least of which is the Cubs’ uncertain situation at 3B in 2012 – that it’s hard to see a deal getting done.

Marlon Byrd

Age and Contract: Turns 34 in August; 2011 – $5.5 million, 2012 – $6.5 million.

Stats: .303/.348/.405, but just three homers and 12 RBI. Still plays solid defense in CF.

Cubs’ Desire to Trade Him: High.

Possible Return: Byrd’s contract is not overly restrictive, but he’ll probably be overpaid in 2012. The Cubs can almost certainly find a taker for his contract, though, but won’t get much more than a B and C prospect for him. If they eat a couple million, they might be able to get a good B prospect and an average B prospect. I don’t see them squeaking out a top 100 type.

Likelihood of Trade: Medium. Had Byrd not suffered his facial injury, this would have been “High.” I feel like I have to emphasize at every turn that I love Marlon Byrd as a teammate and a man. As a player, he’s a fine piece on a good team. But the Cubs have no place for him next year when they’d like to get Brett Jackson going in CF. They don’t even have a need for him on the bench when they can instead use much cheaper options like Tony Campana or Reed Johnson. Teams are interested in Byrd, and it’s just a matter of him showing that he’s back to 100%.

Kosuke Fukudome

Age and Contract: Turned 34 in April; 2011 – $13.5 million.

Stats: .273/.378/.371, and, as usual, those numbers have been on a steady decline since mid-May. Has anyone in the history of the game been so predictable?

Cubs’ Desire to Trade Him: Very high.

Possible Return: The Cubs could get some salary relief, but probably not complete relief. If the Cubs eat a couple million of the dollars remaining on Fukudome’s deal, they could probably get a B prospect or a high upside, young C prospect (and maybe a little more throw in at the margins).

Likelihood of Trade: High. It’s all up to the Cubs to suck it up and eat some salary. If they make it so that Fukudome’s salary is more like that of a 4th outfielder, they’ll find plenty of interest. Although Fukudome has limited no-trade rights, he has not be overly assertive in suggesting that he’d use them. I think Fukudome wouldn’t mind the chance to increase his attractiveness for 2012 with a playoff push/performance somewhere. And before anyone says it, no, the Cubs would not get draft compensation for Fukudome at the end of the year. To receive compensation, they would have to offer arbitration and have Fukudome reject it in favor of signing elsewhere. Fukudome would receive about $13.5 million in arbitration for 2012. Anyone really think he’d reject that?

Reed Johnson

Age and Contract: Turns 35 in December; 2011 – $900k.

Stats: .328/.368/.560 in 116 at bats with some defensive gems in the outfield.

Cubs’ Desire to Trade Him: High.

Possible Return: The contract is not an issue, but the Cubs can’t expect to get much for Johnson. He’s a nice complimentary piece, but he did not receive a Major League contract offer in the offseason. He proved that he can still do it this year, so that probably makes him more attractive now than he was a few months ago. Still, a high upside C prospect is the best the Cubs could hope for. They would be wise to point to his tremendous numbers this year, though, and push for a bit more.

Likelihood of Trade: Medium. The Cubs (and Cubs fans) like Reed Johnson, but he’s a completely superfluous piece on a team going nowhere. If the Cubs can get a mediocre prospect for him, they should jump on it. They can always bring him back next year.

Alfonso Soriano

Age and Contract: Turned 35 in January; 2011 – $18 million, 2012 – $18 million; 2013 – $18 million; 2014 – $18 million (sweet Jesus…). No-trade rights.

Stats: .259/.301/.477 with 14 homers.

Cubs’ Desire to Trade Him: HA! LOL!!!!!1!!!1!!!.

Possible Return: Until Toronto managed to unload Vernon Wells, I would have said trading Soriano is impossible, and left it at that. As it stands, I suppose it’s possible there’s a bad salary swap out there. Even if the Cubs eat half of the remaning dollars on Soriano’s deal, there won’t be many takers for much more than scraps. It’s that dire.

Likelihood of Trade: Extremely low. It’s not just that Soriano’s contract is hilariously prohibitive, it’s that the Cubs don’t have a clear replacement ready to go in left field. Soriano is a shell of his former self, but that shell is still a modestly productive hitter. The Cubs will suck it up with him in left for at least another year in 2012, and then they’ll confront some tough choices when Soriano has just two more (ha, just two more) years on his deal.

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Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.