By Matt Abbatacola-
CHICAGO (CBS) After Cubs’ general manager Jim Hendry released veteran left-handed pitcher Doug Davis to make room on the roster for second baseman Darwin Barney, he spoke to the media.
When asked about the immediate future of the 2011 Chicago Cubs, Hendry replied: “I read some things like people assume and they use the word fire sale. That’s not going to happen.
“We’re not interested in trading people at all that will be valuable to us moving forward. People like to float names of your better players which makes no sense to trade. If we make moves, it will be designed to make us better for the future and we still want to see how we play the next month or so. Everybody thinks there’s this big – automatic you have to be a buyer or seller – it’s fire sale time. Well, we have a lot of young people out there pitching and playing or some people that would be very productive for us a year from now that when you get ready to put a team together in the off-season you certainly wouldn’t want to start without them anyhow. As the game’s going, there’s less and less pitching available every year in free agency – less and less talent for the most part – depth of it, so we certainly are going to hold on to the people no matter what that we feel will be major contributors down the road.”
There isn’t a great deal that Hendry can do at the trade deadline. Whether it’s a large undesirable contract or a veteran player that has a no-trade clause, it makes the opportunities to move players almost impossible.
There are a few players that Hendry could move at the deadline that are not signed beyond this year that may have some value for other teams this year.
Carlos Pena is an excellent first baseman and has found his power stroke as of late – he has eight home runs in his last 12 games and 17 on the season. He was signed to a one year $10 million deal during the off-season. He is being paid $5 million during this season and is owed the other $5 million by January of 2012. He does not have any trade protection. There are teams that could have use for a left-handed power hitting gold glove first baseman, but at what price? Is Pena one of those players that Hendry would want to build with for the future? The Cubs infield next season will consist of a third year (actually two and a half year) player in Starlin Castro, most likely a second year player in Barney, and a rookie third baseman that would benefit from Pena’s glove and experience at first. Would Pena and agent, Scott Boras, consider giving the Cubs a cheaper “rate” for giving him the opportunity to play in 2011? I doubt it, but who knows.
Kosuke Fukudome is in the final year of a four-year $48 million deal. He is making $13.5 million this season and does have trade protection. Which likely means that he has a say in which team or teams he can be dealt to. The Cubs have until November 15 of this year to sign him to an extension or release him to become a free agent. He is a left-handed bat that can lead-off and his .385 OBP would attract some interest. He is also a smart outfielder with an above-average arm. Again, what would he bring back to the Cubs in a deal? Would trading Fukudome make the team better for the future?
Alfonso Soriano has a full no-trade clause in his contract and is owed $57 million beyond 2011. He is not going anywhere.
Carlos Zambrano also has a full no-trade clause and is owed $18 million in 2012. He has a vesting option in 2013 for $19.25 million which kicks in if 1) he is first or second in 2011 Cy Young voting or if he finishes in the top four in 2012 Cy Young voting and 2) he is healthy at the end of 2012. The 2013 option is unlikely to happen, but the $18 million in 2012, the no-trade clause, and his behavioral issues make him almost impossible to trade.
Aramis Ramirez also has a full no-trade clause in his contract. He is in the final year of a five-year $75 million deal that has a $16 million club option for 2012. The club has a $2 million buyout option for 2012. The $16 million option for 2012 becomes guaranteed if Ramirez is traded during this season. For that reason alone, he will not be traded. This will be his last season with the Cubs.
Ryan Dempster has a $14 million player option for 2012. For that reason alone, he is not going to be traded.
Marlon Byrd is owed $6.5 million in 2012 which is a reasonable amount for a team to take on, but why would a team want him and what would a trade return to the Cubs?
Anyone else on the roster isn’t worth trading or is valuable to the Cubs’ future.
The bigger question is, will Jim Hendry be the GM beyond 2011? I believe that changes are coming to the Cubs’ front office. They will not happen before the 2011 season ends however.