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Jim Hendry Wants Vernon Wells? Cubs Loading Up on Prospects To Make Trade?

Jim WeihofenCorrespondent IDecember 28, 2009

MESA, AZ - MARCH 03:  Relief pitcher Andrew Cashner #70 of the Chicago Cubs pitches against the Oakland Athletics during the spring training game at HoHoKam Park on March 3, 2009 in Mesa, Arizona. The Cubs defeated the A's 6-4.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Over the past year or so, Cubs GM Jim Hendry has been doing a lot of trading. And with the exception of recent deals for Aaron Heilman and Carlos Silva, they've all been major leaguers being swapped for prospects or young major leaguers. Here's a quick recap of these trades:

•Mark DeRosa traded to the Cleveland Indians for Jeff Stevens and minor leaguers John Gaub and Chris Archer.

•Aaron Miles and Jake Fox traded to the Oakland Athletics for Jeff Gray and minor leaguers Matt Spencer and Ronny Morla.

•Aaron Heilman traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks for minor leaguers Scott Maine and Ryne White.

•Michael Wuertz traded to the Oakland Athletics for minor leaguers Richie Robnett and Justin Sellers.

•Felix Pie traded to the Baltimore Orioles for Garret Olson (who was subsequently traded along with Ronny Cedeno to the Seattle Mariners for Aaron Heilman) and minor leaguer Henry Williamson. (It should also be noted that Rich Hill was traded in an unfinished conditional deal to the Orioles as well.)

That's a total of 11 youngsters brought in for marginal veteran players (DeRosa went on to hit a measly .250 in 2009). Now, could this be part of Hendry's master plan for a Cubs dynasty in the near future, led by future stars 3B Josh Vitters, SP Andrew Cashner, SS Starlin Castro, and OF Tyler Colvin?

Possibly.

But, if history is any indicator, Jim's positioning himself for a big trade.

Now, many of the prospects Hendry has traded off in the past have gone from prospect to bust status after their trade (see: Hee Seop Choi, Bobby Hill, Chad Hermansen, Francis Beltran, Jermaine Van Buren, Rocky Cherry, Scott Moore).

Yet he's still traded these guys to get legit MLB players in return (Eric Karros, Aramis Ramirez, Kenny Lofton, Derrek Lee, Michael Barrett).

So the question remains: Who is Hendry planning on getting?

Now, while this is nothing but me spit-balling, here it goes: Toronto Blue Jays center fielder Vernon Wells.

And here's why: The Jays are looking to rebuild via trades of a star player for prospects (see: Roy Halladay), and Vernon Wells is owed roughly $18 million a year over the next four years.

A big pill to swallow, yes. But odds are that Hendry could convince the Jays to send money to pay for part of his deal (he got the A's to swallow $1.7 million of Aaron Miles' $2.7 million due this year, and $9 million along with Carlos Silva for Milton Bradley this offseason alone), probably to the tune of $16-24 million over the remaining four years of his contract, or $4-6 million per year, if not more.

Yes, this would leave the Cubs only able to pick up cheap parts, but that's all they were going to be able to do anyway. Plus Vernon Wells is a much better option in the outfield than signing Rangers free agent Marlon Byrd, who worked with newly acquired Cubs hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo last season in Texas.

While Wells probably would end up costing the Cubs at least one legit prospect, it probably wouldn't be blue-chippers Colvin,  Cashner, Vitters, or Castro. Yes, they would have to send three or four minor leaguers to Toronto, but it could be worth it. Wells' entire career has been in the AL East, so, like any player coming out of there, his stats should boost.

Is it crazy talk? Maybe. But your phone being able to play music was crazy talk all of 10 years ago, so you never know.

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