I saw a post on mlbtraderumors.com today stating the Cubs are interested in moving Kosuke Fukudome this offseason. That won’t be easy, given the $13.5 million in 2011 salary Fukudome has coming to him under the last year of his contract.
Nonetheless, the article notes that the Cubs were able to move clubhouse-cancer Milton Bradley last offseason and actually get something out of the deal, so anything is possible.
One such possibility might be a trade for the Giants’ Aaron Rowand. Rowand has $12 million coming to him in each of 2011 and 2012, the last two years of the five-year, $60 million deal he signed before the 2008 season.
If each team is willing to essentially pay the remaining contract of the player they signed in the first place, there could be a deal here. The Giants would get one year of Fukudome at the price the Giants would have paid Rowand, and the Cubs would essentially get Rowand for free in 2012.
Rowand has more power than Fukudome, at least over the course of their respect major league career, and Rowand might benefit from playing his home games in the friendly confines of Wrigley Field. Rowand’s got some good will in Chicago left over from his days with the White Sox, and he’s also a better defensive centerfielder than Fukudome.
Fukudome’s one great offensive attribute is his ability to get on base. Through his three major league seasons, he has a .368 on-base percentage, compared to Rowand’s .335 career OBP.
I’d much rather have Fukudome and his likely higher OBP than Rowand in 2011, so my suggestion may be nothing more than wishful thinking. However, both teams are looking to move these players, if only to go in a new direction, so it’s not completely out of the realm of possibility.
Of course, if the Giants decide to re-sign postseason superman Cody Ross, the Giants won’t need another rightfielder, the position at which Fukudome would be most valuable. There’s always left field, but with another overpaid veteran, Mark DeRosa, coming back from injury next year and possible re-signings of Aubrey Huff and/or Pat Burrell, there isn’t a lot of room there either.
In other Giants-related news, the Nationals just released former Giant and still right-handed reliever Tyler Walker. Walker had a fine 3.57 ERA with good ratios in 24 games and 35.1 innings pitched for the Nats in 2010. Walker didn’t pitch more because he hurt his shoulder and didn’t pitch in the majors after June 19 of this past season.
Walker was popular during his time as a Giant, so if his arm is healthy again in the spring (he’s 35 next May, so we’ll see) and no one else signs him this offseason (quite likely), don’t be surprised if the Giants invite him to Spring Training for a shot at one of their low-cost, bottom-of-the-bullpen slots.