Cubs tearing it all down: Who's next?

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

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  • fb_avatar

    I like the Z deal and hopefully it gets the attention off a possible Garza deal and it could help the Cubs get it done more quickly.

  • In reply to Luigi Ziccarelli:

    Liked it as well. Garza deal will be the mother load if it happens. That will be the one that will really kick start the rebuilding process.

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    John, look at BAL's system, what is a realistic return for Soriano?

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    http://mobile.minorleagueball.com/2011/11/27/2589979/baltimore-orioles-top-prospects-for-2012

    John, anyone on the "Others" list catch your eye?

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    Not excited about a lot of guys on that list. Except for a couple of hits, McPhail didn't do much with that system. Hobgood was a top pick of theirs (top five, I believe), and he can't even crack the top twenty.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Re Soriano, the situation is different from SamMe and Z in that there isn't a need to get rid of him for clubhouse reasons. Hence, I think this is merely a matter of how much $$$$$$$$$$$$ Baltimore is willing to pick up.

    On the other hand, Baltimore is never going to be competitive with the Yanks, BoSox, and Rays.

  • In reply to jack:

    Very true. Soriano is well-liked in clubhouse. His play on the field is me-oriented, but he's definitely not a problem off the field other than his big contract.

  • My god!! Take one look at that pic that you posted John, and tell me which man swings the heavier bat!?!?!?!

    Marlon is a ripped up dude. Maybe he should go Soriano and swing heavy bat too. Might get some of those grounders to short up in the air to C/RF and going a long way!! :)

  • In reply to Still Love the Cubs:

    Byrd's a big man. Looks roly-poly with the uniform on, but it's a lot of muscle. Doesn't seem to translate to the field, though. I don't know if he's tried a heavier bat, but he'd have to weigh that against a possible loss of bat speed. Soriano has much better functional baseball strength. Strength is in his wrists, forearms, ability to turn hips, etc.

  • Soriano and Byrd should be the next to go. If they can get a top
    pitching prospect, and more, for Garza, then trade Dempster

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    I don't know if trading Dempster gets us what we need right now. I think he's a better deadline candidate. For now he can give us quality innings. Best hope to get something good for him, in my opinion, is for him to rebound this year and then hope that a team has a glaring need later in the season.

  • I'll be happy if the Cubs get a A ball minor leaguer from the Orioles with some upside . I am realisitic, I don't expect that much for Soriano . In my mind trading Soriano is like trading Zambrano, addition by subtraction , although to a lesser degree.

  • To add to that , the next guys to go will be Soto and Byrd . The Cubs I think will hold on to Soto until at least by the end of spring training. Like you said John, the Cubs want to see what they have in Castillo and Clevenger first . I can see him staying thru the early summer , the same with Marmol. I don't see the Cubs trading Marmol until the July deadline when other teams might need a closer.The only player I can see being traded before the season, other than Soriano, is Byrd.

  • In reply to Steve Flores:

    I agree with you, with Soriano and Byrd gone the young outfielders
    will get a better look in spring training.

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    I would be shocked if both Byrd and Soriano are on the team by opening day. At least one of them will be gone, if I had to choose just one it will be Soriano that will be traded soon.

  • In reply to Steve Flores:

    I am not expecting a whole lot for Soriano either but who knows? Epstein has been able to extract good value for guys like Colvin, one year of Marshall, and Z...so not putting anything past him right now.

    Byrd and Soriano are the biggest candidates to me as well, and Garza, of course.

  • "Theo and Jed have been asking for moon in Garza talks. They are prepared to wait until teams realize they need him."

    Its a far cry from the days of Jim Hendry rapidly making moves & overpaying to sign a player that nobody wanted to make an offer to anyway (Bradley).

    Its refreshing to see a baseball club run professionally.

  • In reply to Cub Fan Dan:

    Yes...too many deals were made quickly and at over value in the late Trib/Hendry days.

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    ID be happy if soriano got traded for a hot dog vendor at this point

  • In reply to Bryan Bell:

    How about a bison dog vendor?

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    heck a vendot to be named later would be great lol

  • Cubs need to make all their trades either prior to Spring Training or wait until July.

    Players need stability to prepare for the regular season.

  • In reply to GoCubs:

    Soriano and Byrd before spring training. Garza when we get the
    best deal for the Cubs long term plans.

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    Sounds good to me!

  • Finally some action to discuss.

  • Aargh. Internet outage in Oak Park today. Using phone again.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Woohoo...back up again. And all I had to do was growl like a pirate.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    You're like the Fonze.

  • In reply to Carne Harris:

    LOL!

  • Re: "The Cubs don't know what they have yet in Welington Castillo and Steve Clevenger," I would add that they don't know what they have in Soto either, nor do potential trade partners. If he has an up year to stay on his up-down-up-down schedule he will be worth a lot more in July.

  • In reply to bruno14:

    Soto is unpredictable. Cubs would probably be better off waiting on him and hoping that his value goes up and a need arises.

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    Never been sold on Soto either. Was just perusing the 40 man roster trying to figure out the 25 man major league roster for 2012. lmao,,

    Good Luck Dale Sveum.!!!

    I think we're gonna need an express lane built between Iowa and Wrigleyville for the foreseeable future!!

  • In reply to Henry Wilfong:

    Tough to figure out. Lots of guys could go either way...Sappelt, Campana, Sonnanstine, Coleman, Jackson, etc. Spring training will be pretty meaningful this year as far as determining the roster.

  • Rob Neyer wrote an article on why there's reason for optimism on Volstad, basically centers on xFIP...

    http://mlb.sbnation.com/2012/1/5/2683850/sir-chris-of-volstad-archduke-of-xfip

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    One thing Neyer doesn't address is whether we can regress Volstad's past HR/Flyball performance all the way to 10%. Neyer notes that his career xFIP is 4.19, but his career FIP is 4.52, which is lousy. The difference there is all regressing actual HR/FB% to the average. Volstad's career HR/FB% is 12.3%, which isn't stratospheric, and he's got almost 600 major league innings under his belt.

    I guess the question I'm begging is "when does that statistic stabilize?"

  • In reply to Eddie:

    Nice analysis, Eddie. I think Neyer does take some liberties -- and he gets a little carried away when he suggests he can be better than Gio. It's hard to average out his HR/FB% because it has fluctuated so wildly. In 2009, when he was awful, it was at 17.5%, the year before, when he had the most success, it was a ridiculously low 3.9%. Last year, it again shot up to 15.5%.

    In the end, I think Volstad isn't much better than a 4th starter or so -- but I'd like to see what he can do with that 6'8" frame coming down with a hard sinker on that sharp downward plane. His groundball rate was up last year, which was encouraging and if he can keep the ball down and keep his HR/FB% rate around average or even a little under (like 2010), then I think the Cubs will have a solid starter on their hands. Not Gio, of course, but something perhaps a little better than what he did in 2010.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Yeah I agree that he's likely to look better than last year. A sub 4.00 ERA? I don't think the team D has improved THAT much.

  • In reply to Eddie:

    Not that much better than 2010. Had a 4.58 ERA then, but I think a 4.20 ERA or so is realistic with good defense and an improved HR rate. A sub 4 ERA would have to come from sort of internal improvement, though -- and that's not something we can predict or count on.

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    Volstad intrigues me tho. Here is a guy who is only 25 and has 3+ years major league service. He was signed out of high school and in the major leagues 3 years later. This is obviously another player rushed before his maturity level reached is ability level.

    We're going to have a few guys like him on the roster which places even more importance on the catcher/pitching coach combo. I've watched Soto and believe me,, he ain't the guy.

    Whatever happened to the days when the catcher was the coach on the field.? I can remember Hundley going to the mound and never saying a word to the pitcher but chewing some butt at his infielders for whatever .

    It used to be that way and thats what the Cubs need now with this pitching staff. A catcher who makes sure of everything before a pitch is thrown. Like making sure his SS is looking,, lol

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    In reply to Henry Wilfong:

    You hit the nail on the head henry, just as i was writing something along the same line.

  • I think conditioning is a part of Geo's issue. It will be interesting to see how he comes into camp this year.

  • In reply to draco:

    Completely agree and that's been something that has dogged him since his days as a prospect. When he's in shape, he tends to play well but he's not a good enough player to get away with slacking off. He's the kind of guy that need to constantly work on it.

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    I agree that Soto's conditioning is suspect, but it's his mental approach approach to running the onfield team that I find lacking. It's correctable but some guys are just never comfortable telling others what they should do. You definitely need your Alpha male behind the plate!

  • In reply to Henry Wilfong:

    Sometimes I don't think he's serious enough. He's more of a laid back type. Definitely hurts his conditioning. Maybe you're right and it affects his ability to take charge behind the plate.

  • Yeah I think catcher is probably the least likely position where you can get away with being out of shape. Hopefully that type of stuff won't fly under the new regime. I like Geo and hope he has a good year whether it's with the Cubs or wherever.

    Chris Bosio will be really important this year (and any year really). When Theo was saying (yesterday and in other interviews) that the Cubs have to be better and work harder than everyone else I think getting these young pitchers and bringing out the best in them is just the type of thing he meant. You can get more value in your roster by doing just that in addition to savvy moves and drafting.

  • John: You say "Lots of guys could go either way..." and name a few. We might be better off with a list of Cubs who would NOT be described that way! It seems like the team is rebuilding the upper levels of the system with formerly high draft picks, high upside guys, who are available because their former teams have given up on them (maybe not the two position players in the Marshall deal - that is why I like that deal best).

    Unfortunately, the big league team is part of the upper levels of the system. Practically the only predictable players are those they will probably trade and probably should. I would say that this means 2012 is going to be a really long season, except I would have to add, compared to what? Maybe, this could be another really long season...

    But it, or something, had to be done.

  • In reply to bruno14:

    I think you're right! It's a very fluid roster, probably would have been easier to name the sure things. If you talk about sure things beyond 2012, the only guy is probably Starlin Castro. It's going to be a long season but I think it's going to be worth it in the end.

  • It's best to follow the Cub's top prospects in the minors, while
    following the Cubs in the majors

  • Hey John, could you give me your thoughts about the recently signed Joe Mather and infielder Edgar Gonzalez?

  • In reply to johnnywest333:

    Sure...I should have written about these guys earlier as I think they're minor signings but they could help down the road.

    Mather is a big guy, like 6'5" and he does have power. He's an average athlete so he can play the field too. Was once a mid-level prospect but was always considered a bit raw. He does have some pop in his bat, though, and his approach is vastly improved. My guess is that he starts the year in AAA and is insurance if the Cubs get injuries and a prospect like Jackson isn't ready. Could provide an option if Cubs feel they are lacking some power as well.

    Edgar Gonzalez is a utility guy who fits in best at 2B. I think signing him to a minor league deal gives the Cubs some flexibility for that second backup IF spot. If the Cubs need to create a roster spot by dumping Blake DeWitt somewhere, I think Gonzalez becomes the leading candidate to get that spot. Most likely, though, he'll be in AAA with Bianchi as insurance.

  • So this leaves Barney where? Do you think he is capable of getting better or do you think Team Theo has a different direction they want to go?

  • In reply to johnnywest333:

    Different direction. :)

  • In reply to johnnywest333:

    I think Barney's destiny is as a utility IF'er on a good team or a starting SS/8th place hitter on a lesser team.

  • Don't know if anyone here caught this nugget, but the amount of Zambrano's salary the Cubs will pay next season depends on how much they pay Volstad. They are responsible for paying $18M total, in whatever combination of the two that arises. So from their perspective, this is a straight trade of Z for Volstad, who comes with three years team control remaining. No 2012 savings, but a good deal nonetheless. It will give the club options and available cash for 2013 and beyond.

  • In reply to Eddie:

    Also gives them a younger, cost-controlled pitcher for the next few years -- but obviously he has to improve for that to mean much.

  • As long as they're all gone eventually.

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