With Carlos Zambrano added to the recently departed list that previously included Aramis Ramirez, Sean Marshall, Tyler Colvin, DJ LeMahieu, Koyie Hill and probably Carlos Pena, the question now is... who's next?
The Cubs seem to be actively engaged in trade talks with a number of players. Carlos Marmol, according to Theo Epstein, is not among those players. Epstein recently stated that he is very committed to the talented, but unpredictable closer. So he is here to stay...at least for now.
Here are 5 candidates in the meantime:
- Alfonso Soriano: George Ofman, Sports Anchor/Reporter for WBBM radio, tweeted that three AL teams are interested in Alfonso Soriano and specifically mentions the Baltimore Orioles, who are seeking a big bat to DH. According to MLB Radio (H/T Michael Caldwell), manager Buck Showalter is really pushing for the acquisition. Showalter wields a lot more power than your average manager, so his opinion carries a lot of weight in Baltimore. It's likely the Cubs will have to pay a substantial part of his salary, perhaps as much as $40M. It's not known what he would fetch in return, but the guess here is less than what the Cubs got for Zambrano. The most valuable upgrade will be the defense in LF, though the Cubs will certainly miss his ability to hit the long ball.
- Matt Garza: According to David Kaplan, Epstein and Hoyer aren't going to blink on this one. Epstein called Garza a "top of the rotation" starter and Kaplan stated that a "source told me that Theo and Jed have been asking for moon in Garza talks. They are prepared to wait until teams realize they need him." The bottom line here seems to be that either the Cubs are getting a big haul from somebody or they are simply keeping Garza. He is the Cubs best trade chip and to give him away for less than a premium would be doing the team a disservice. It only makes sense to trade him if it makes the Cubs significantly better in the next few years.
- Marlon Byrd: Byrd is said to be drawing interest from the Washington Nationals and Boston Red Sox. He has one year left on a reasonable deal so teams won't be making a large financial commitment by dealing for him. At the same time, he's just a rental, so that mitigates what the Cubs get in return. The Cubs would probably be happy with a prospect or two. They have two RH OF'ers ready to step in and take his place in Dave Sappelt and Reed Johnson, but the main long term beneficiary of a Byrd departure would be Brett Jackson.
- Geovanny Soto: This one isn't as likely to happen before spring training and perhaps not until the trading deadline for a couple of reasons: 1) The catcher's market is pretty much dried up and 2) The Cubs don't know what they have yet in Welington Castillo and Steve Clevenger. They may prefer to wait a bit until the market opens up and the picture clears up, but if the Cubs put him on the market, Soto may have the most value of any Cub not named Matt Garza.
- Ryan Dempster: Dempster has one year left on his contract and while he once held Type A status, the new CBA rules deem he must be offered 125% of his previous salary for the Cubs to get a supplemental pick. That's not going to happen. So if the Cubs don't want to walk away empty-handed when Dempster hits free agency, they'll have to deal him. As a 5 and 10 guy, Dempster will need to give the Cubs his approval, but he has said he's been willing to waive that right if it helps the team. It's also possible the Cubs would consider bringing the popular teammate back at a reduced cost. The Cubs could use Dempster's stabilizing presence in the rotation to start the year, especially if Garza is traded so, like Soto, it's likely he won't be traded until the trade deadline.
Rebuilding has begun in earnest in Wrigleyville. There will be a lot of new faces and a new style of play come April. It may not yield results in 2012, but it appears that the Cubs are finally on the right road.
Filed under: Cubs Rumors