Chicago Cubs Trade Rumors: 10 Other Players Who Could Move Before Opening Day
The Chicago Cubs are in the midst of a radical rebuilding process.
Former stars Carlos Zambrano and Aramis Ramirez are already gone, and a new era is beginning in Chicago. More moves are coming.
Only Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo appear to be untouchable going forward.
The following 10 players may be the next to go.
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Nearly every major player associated with the underachieving Cubs of the Jim Hendry/Lou Piniella era is no longer with the team.
Derrek Lee, Aramis Ramirez, Carlos Zambrano and Kosuke Fukudome will all be playing elsewhere in 2012. Longtime pitcher Ryan Dempster has only one year left on his contract.
The lone exception to this trend? Alfonso Soriano.
After posting good numbers in his first two years with the team in 2008 and 2009, Soriano started fading fast. In '09, he hit .241 with an on-base percentage of .303 and just 55 RBIs. In 2011, his on-base percentage dipped all the way to .289.
He is not the player he used to be, and never will be again.
Still, Soriano has averaged 25 home runs per season in the last two years, so he still may have some value as a designated hitter.
Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer are committing to a complete rebuild of the Cubs, and there is simply no room for Soriano in their plans.
Soriano has been linked to rumors involving fellow underachiever Brian Roberts of the Baltimore Orioles, and it is all but certain that the Cubs will try to shop him elsewhere if that deal does not materialize.
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While any trade involving Alfonso Soriano will likely involve swapping one bad contract for another, Cubs' ace Matt Garza could yield prime returns.
Garza is a proven big-game pitcher and has pitched very well against the widely feared lineups in the AL East. He has good stuff, works hard and is still young. Many teams, especially those in the AL East, would love to have Garza on their staff. The only question is, At what price?
According to Chicago analyst David Kaplan, the Cubs' asking price will be extremely high. Look for the Cubs to pull in at least two top prospects should they decide to trade for Garza.
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Just two seasons ago, Marlon Byrd was the Cubs' lone All-Star representative and a fan favorite for his hustle and cheerful personality.
Byrd still plays hard, but his production has lessened drastically since his All-Star season. He posted an ineffective .324 on-base percentage last season and hit just .198 with runners in scoring position.
The Cubs have a very good center field prospect in Brett Jackson. Given the direction the team is going in, Jackson could very well see playing time in 2012.
Byrd is a good clubhouse presence, works hard and has kept his batting average above .275 in every full season he has played, so he could be tempting for some teams. But Byrd's on-base struggles and age (he is already 34) make it difficult to imagine him staying with the Cubs much longer.
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Because of the recent acquisition of Anthony Rizzo, Bryan LaHair's time in Chicago may be limited.
LaHair is 28 years old, and performed well in limited at-bats last season. Jed Hoyer has stated that LaHair is projected to start at first base this season. However, all signs indicate that Rizzo is the first baseman of the future—not LaHair.
If there is any interest in LaHair, Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer will certainly be listening. They may want to get him more major league experience in order to increase his trade value. But either way, LaHair is not likely to stay with the team on a long-term basis.
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Jeff Baker could be a valuable platoon player for a contending team. His hits very well against lefties but struggles against right-handers: He hit a healthy .314 against left-handed pitching but just .200 from the opposite side of the plate.
Because Baker can also play both second and third base, he is and underrated and valuable bench player.
That said, Baker becomes a free agent in 2013 and is not likely to figure into Theo Epstein's grand rebuilding plan—he would be of more use to a contending team.
Baker is the kind of player that could make a package deal look much more attractive, so it would not come as a surprise if he is not on the Cubs' Opening Day roster.
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Blake DeWitt's situation is similar to Jeff Baker's. DeWitt can play both second and third base, and will most likely remain a bench player. DeWitt does not bring the offensive upside that Baker has, but he could still be useful to teams with weak infield depth.
DeWitt reportedly drew some interest earlier in the offseason from the Colorado Rockies prior to the Ian Stewart-Tyler Colvin trade. Another team with similar depth problems at second and third base may also be interested in DeWitt.
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Darwin Barney had a good first half in 2011, and at 26 years old, he probably has the most trade value among the Cubs' second-base options
Barney hit a respectable .276 last year, but posted a weak .313 on-base percentage due to his lack of walks.
Still Barney's good first half might make some teams wonder about his potential.
If Barney were traded, Blake DeWitt and Jeff Baker would likely stay and platoon at second base.
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Geovany Soto has not performed consistently. He has had two very good seasons for the Cubs, but 2011's effort was middling at best.
A lot of Soto's value as an offensive player came from his ability to take walks. Pitchers seemed to have adjusted to this, as Soto's walks—and consequently his on-base percentage—plummeted in 2011.
Still, the former All-Star and Rookie of the Year hit .280 with a .393 on-base percentage as recently as 2010, and he is only 28 years old. Because of this, he could likely draw interest from many teams.
The Cubs have two catching prospects on their 40-man roster in Steve Clevenger and Wellington Castillo. Castillo performed extremely well in spring training last year, and Clevenger has hit Triple-A pitching hard.
If a team is willing to give up promising prospects for Soto, the Cubs will likely make a move.
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If any player embodies the current Cubs and all of the ups, downs and near-misses that got them to their current state, it is Kerry Wood.
Once a flame-throwing young starter with seemingly unlimited potential, Wood has always been a fan favorite. When Wood took less money to rejoin with the Cubs last year, he was welcomed joyously.
Wood stated in 2011 that he would likely retire before pitching for another team, but that was nearly a year ago, and the landscape has changed drastically since then.
With the Cubs trying to build a younger team, Wood may longer fit into the team's long-term plans.
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Carlos Marmol had a down year last year, so his trade value may not be as high as it should be. Marmol has tremendous upside, and his devastating slider is a late-inning weapon that many teams would love to have.
Marmol is young and does not become a free agent until 2014, so he has even more trade value than Sean Marshall had.
It would be risky to give up Marmol, but his talent has not always translated into saves. If a team is willing to pay heavily in return, look for Theo Epstein and company to make a deal.