Chicago Cubs: 5 Players Team Must Shop in 2012
When new President Theo Epstein and General Manager Jed Hoyer joined the Chicago Cubs this offseason, it was very clear that the club would go through a rebuilding stage.
So far, they have lived up to that.
They acquired the top first base prospect in Anthony Rizzo from the San Diego Padres this winter.
They shipped out disgruntled pitcher Carlos Zambrano to the Miami Marlins for Chris Volstad.
They acquired young pitcher Travis Wood and others from the Cincinnati Reds for Sean Marshall.
They acquired Ian Stewart from the Colorado Rockies.
Needless to say, Epstein and Hoyer have been busy this offseason.
With some contracts approaching their expiration date and the club in full-scale rebuild mode, there are others on the roster they should entertain trading.
Here are five of them.
No. 5: Marlon Byrd, Center Fielder
According to Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times, there is recent interest in center fielder Marlon Byrd on the trade market.
Byrd is in his final year of his contract and is due to make $6.5 million this season. What possible reason do the Chicago Cubs have to trade Byrd?
Their No. 2 prospect is waiting in the wings.
Outfielder Brett Jackson is currently stuck at Triple-A, waiting for a spot to open up on the roster.
According to new Cubs' manager Dale Sveum, "Brett Jackson is ready to play here for sure." He also made a point of emphasis that the only reason Jackson did not make the roster out of spring training is because the outfield is already loaded with veterans, and Jackson needs to play everyday.
Jackson earned a mid-season promotion to Triple-A last season, where he hit .297 with 10 home runs and 26 RBI in 48 games.
As the center fielder of the future, Jackson would get his chance to show the Cubs a glimpse of the future after Byrd is traded.
No. 4: Alfonso Soriano, Left Fielder
If the Chicago Cubs are serious about a full-blown rebuild mode, they should shop their highest paid player, left fielder Alfonso Soriano.
Since signing with the Cubs back in 2007, Soriano has not lived up to expectations in the Windy City.
The Cubs were expecting to receive a legitimate 30/30 threat, after Soriano hit 46 home runs and stole 41 bases for the Washington Nationals in 2006.
Soriano hit 33 home runs and stole 19 bases his first year in a Cubs uniform, and hit 29 home runs and stole 19 bases in 2008, his second year.
He has not reached double digits in steals since.
In order to trade Soriano and receive some sort of decent haul in return, the Cubs will likely have to eat a lot of Soriano's remaining salary. He still has three years and $54 million remaining on his contract, which would be a large contract to take on for any team.
However, if the Cubs are serious about rebuilding, Soriano needs to go.
No. 3: Ryan Dempster, Starting Pitcher
The Chicago Cubs have multiple pitchers that should be shopped this season. The first is Ryan Dempster.
Dempster is entering the final year of a four-year, $52 million contract he signed after the 2008 season. Earning $14 million this year, Dempster is the second most expensive player on the Cubs' roster.
At a quick glance, Dempster had a down year last season. He posted a 10-14 record with a 4.80 ERA.
However, upon closer look, Dempster appeared to be just unlucky. He had a .324 BABIP (Batting Average on Balls In Play) when his career mark is right around .300. His SIERA (Skill Interactive Earned Run Average) was 3.79, indicating what his ERA should have been around had he received some better luck.
Dempster must be shopped at the trade deadline this season. If he isn't, he will likely leave the Cubs after this season, and it is always better to receive something in return for a departing player than nothing at all.
No. 2: Carlos Marmol, Closer
Chicago Cubs' closer Carlos Marmol is currently in the middle of a three-year, $20 million contract he signed with the Cubs after the 2010 season.
He is due to make $7 million this season, and $9.8 million next year.
With the Cubs in rebuilding mode, it would be wise for them to shop their closer. There is no sense in holding onto a high quality reliever that is costing a lot of money while rebuilding the roster, especially if quality prospects can be acquired through a trade.
Marmol would be a fine addition to any team looking to upgrade its bullpen for a playoff push at the trade deadline.
Last season saw Marmol post a 4.01 ERA and anchor down 34 saves. He also had a 12.04 K/9 ratio that teams look for in a dominant reliever. The ERA was inflated mainly due to an increase in his BABIP from his career average of .253 to .295 last season.
SIERA indicates his ERA should have been around a 3.25 rather than the 4.01 it was.
The Cubs should be able to demand a pretty decent haul in return for Marmol at the deadline if they make him available.
No. 1: Matt Garza, Starting Pitcher
Trading an ace from a staff will always land you a great haul of prospects in return.
This is exactly what the Chicago Cubs should do with ace Matt Garza this year at the trade deadline.
Under team control for 2012 and 2013, a team acquiring Garza this year will have him for potentially two years (depending on when he gets traded).
In his first year with the Cubs, Garza posted a 10-10 record with a 3.32 ERA. The most impressive aspect of Garza's season last year was his 8.95 K/9 ratio, up from his career average of 7.5 K/9.
Those numbers will only help Garza's value on the trade market, and will help the Cubs snag a huge haul in return.
When the Cubs traded for Matt Garza, they gave up multiple top prospects in the deal. They gave up Hak-Ju Lee, Chris Archer, Brandon Guyer and Robinson Chirinos.
Three of these prospects are currently in the top 20 for the Tampa Bay Rays—Lee ranks in at No. 2, Archer at No. 3 and Guyer at No. 13.
The Cubs could go a long way towards replenishing a very bleak minor league system by trading Garza.