Chicago Cubs Trade Rumors: What Can Theo Fetch for All-Star Bryan LaHair?

Tommy Stokke@StokkeTommyCorrespondent IJuly 9, 2012

ATLANTA, GA - JULY 04:  Bryan LaHair #6 of the Chicago Cubs crosses homeplate after hitting a solo homer in the fourth inning against the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field on July 4, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Expecting a large haul of prospects for a 29-year-old, left-handed, All-Star first baseman sure doesn't seem out of the question, but Chicago Cubs' Bryan LaHair is not the norm.

There is quite a gap from one end of the spectrum to the other as to what Theo Epstein and Co. can get in return for the slugger.

Is LaHair a mirror of Toronto Blue Jays slugging outfielder Jose Bautista, who after years of mediocrity has home run balls crossing into the United States or denting SUVs outside of Fenway?

Or was his first half just an aberration? Is LaHair really just a 4-A player, one who is too good for triple-A but not good enough for the majors?

After 10 years of professional baseball, LaHair has turned his first real opportunity into an All-Star bid. LaHair's .286 average, .364 on-base percentage and .883 OPS, are All-Star worthy with his 14 home runs.

He has plenty of power—power that can help the likes of the Los Angeles Dodgers, Tampa Bay Rays, Cleveland Indians and San Francisco Giants, Milwaukee Brewers and Toronto Blue Jays among others.

But red flags fly about his defense—below average in the outfield and average at first base—and his well-documented struggles against lefties. He's just 3-for-41 against lefties this season with 24 strikeouts. Sure, he hasn't had consistent at-bats against them, but with numbers like that, it's for good reason.

So that's the question that potential suitors must answer when deciding the price to pay. Are they trading multiple prospects for the power hitting first baseman or designated hitter? Or giving a middle reliever with not a ton of value for the Bryan LaHair that I just dropped in my fantasy baseball league for former Cub Tyler Colvin?


Of the teams I listed above, Milwaukee will likely turn into sellers, with Zack Greinke being the name they look to shop.

The Blue Jays have a struggling Adam Lind at first and consider themselves as buyers at the moment. The Indians are looking for a replacement power hitter for Travis Hafner, who's currently on the DL. Tampa Bay's Luke Scott was just caught in the midst of an 0-for-41 streak, before a home run this week.

In the NL West, the Dodgers and Giants may look at LaHair as the difference for each in pulling away from the other. Brandon Belt hasn't cut it for the Giants, and the Dodgers' patience with James Loney is about gone.

Could Detroit sneak in as well? They've had interest in Matt Garza since spring training. Could they also include LaHair in a deal?

The best-case scenario—and most realistic—is that these teams find themselves in a bidding war for LaHair, which drives up his price.The Tigers and Indians may both chase his services, with perhaps Kenny Williams and the White Sox looking to acquire him just as a block to the aforementioned teams.

Tampa Bay and Toronto share the AL East, along with possible interest in the lefty.

The Giants and Dodgers rivalry goes deeper than just the division.

Should you expect a top prospect or two? Probably not. But expect something with value in return, not just one of those infamous "Player to be Named Later."

LaHair isn't arbitration eligible until 2015. He'll make $485,000 until then. He's a good value to be had for a contender.

Specifically, look for pitching in return. The Cubs organization lacks in big-time pitching prospects. Don't expect Jacob Turner. But could the Indians part with pitching prospects Chen Le or Jake Sisco? Sure.

Look for the Dodgers, if anyone, to win LaHair's rights. According to ESPN's Keith Law, nine of the Dodgers' top 10 prospects are pitchers.

It looks like a perfect fit for a player that's not so perfectly described.