Should the Cubs trade cost-controlled players such as LaHair, Barney, and Campana?

Should the Cubs trade cost-controlled players such as LaHair, Barney, and Campana?

Here's one thing that keeps slipping slightly beneath the radar, below the swirling Ryan Dempster/Matt Garza trade rumors.  We all know that the Cubs best chance to acquire impact prospects is by trading one or both of their two top starters.

As some noted yesterday, Keith Law pointed out that the Cubs (and other teams) should expect less for free agents-to-be such as Ryan Dempster because the team will no longer garner a compensation pick under the new CBA.  There is certainly quite a bit of truth to that.

That truth will be somewhat mitigated by the seller's market that is expected to develop for many teams, especially the Cubs, who have multiple players to trade, ranging from useful role players to potential impact starting pitching.

But even that may not be enough.

If a team isn't going to have anything to show for say, a Ryan Dempster, after the season, then the Cubs may have to be the team that makes up for that loss of a compensation pick.  They are the ones who will have to add that cost-controlled player that will serve as compensation.

Rather than gamble on a supplemental pick, which are less valuable in the new CBA anyway, a team can pick up an already useful, young proven player such as Bryan LaHair, Darwin Barney, or Tony Campana.

Now this may not sit well with Cubs fans.  Those players are all fan favorites to some degree, but the truth is they may be more useful to sweeten a deal than they will be as long term players with the team.

Let's look at them one at a time.

Bryan LaHair 1B-OF: LaHair (at least against righties) has been the Cubs most productive offensive player.  He's also cheap and cost-controlled, exactly the kind of player you want to have on a rebuilding team except for two things.  He's 29 and he plays the same position as the Cubs top prospect, Anthony Rizzo.  Now, its been suggested that Bryan LaHair can move to the OF, which is true.  LaHair has played the OF before and is adequate, though he lacks any kind of range.  The problem with that to me is that it's a short term move.  LaHair is thick-legged, has had back issues, and is already among the slowest players on the team.  He may be able to play LF for a couple of years but it won't be long before he has slightly more range than the Billy Williams statue.  This makes him almost as much of a short-term answer as say, Alfonso Soriano, who also has limited shelf-life in the OF.  That's not to say LaHair can't be a productive offensive player over the long haul, but without the DH or the ability to stick him at first, it will quickly become a question of where to fit him in the defense.

Darwin Barney 2B-SS: Barney is different than LaHair in that he is a good defender at a premium position with a surprisingly solid bat.  He's also younger and more viable as a starter for the long term.  But he's not an irreplaceable one.  Barney may have more value to teams looking for a complimentary piece or perhaps even a SS, which is Barney's "natural" position.  At that position, he may hold more trade value than he will as a starting player for the Cubs.  As Tom and I have both found in talking to other baseball industry sources around the league, Barney is held with more esteem by other teams than he seems to be by many Cubs fans. However, for the Cubs purposes , the dropoff  in the short term from Barney to say, Adrian Cardenas or Luis Valbuena, may not be that sharp and it could allow the Cubs to enhance the quality of prospects coming back to them, which of course helps them in the long run.

Tony Campana, OF: I expect to get some flak here because he is a big fan favorite because of his dazzling speed and ability to occasionally create runs with his legs alone.  But by that same token, think about how valuable that would be for a team that's in the thick of a pennant race, where one run can mean a game and where one game can mean the difference between the playoffs and an early fishing trip.  Also think about how valuable such a player would be coming off the bench in the postseason itself where teams are so evenly matched and games are often very close.  Of course, the Cubs could use some of that value as well, but Campana's best years are now while he's young and he isn't worn down by the long, sometimes grueling baseball season.  Campana isn't the biggest of ballplayers and we've seen similar sized players wear down as they get into their 30s (Bip Roberts, Bryan Roberts).  Campana is 26 and he may not be the weapon he is now by the time the Cubs are truly ready to compete.

Let me stress that I like these players as much as most fans do, but I think the new CBA is going to force the Cubs to be creative when it comes to compensating teams taking on a rent-a-player by offering a cost-controlled player that a) may have greater value in the short term such as LaHair and Campana or B) the Cubs can reasonably expect to replace with a player from their minor league system such as Darwin Barney.  But if that means getting a much higher quality level of prospects in return, then I think it's something the Cubs are going to have to do, unpopular as that might be.

What do you think? Click all answers that apply


poll by twiigs.com

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  • All dependent on what kind of prospects come back in a deal of course. If a Dempster/LaHair package can bring back a top 100 at a position of need who is already in AA or AAA and could theoretically make the 2013 or 2014 squad, then yes.

  • In reply to Cubswin4harry:

    Of course. But I wonder if the Cubs could alleve some of that hesitancy to trade for rental players under the new CBA by adding a cost controlled player of their own.

  • I find the whole sitting Lahair against lefties very frustrating, especially since Baker sucks. But if the Cubs think he is that bad against lefties you might as well trade him if you can get something back. I am not sold on him in left field at all. I think the FO is all for run prevention too.

  • In reply to JR Cubbies:

    That's my 2 biggest problems with LaHair 1) is he a part time player and 2) no way he can play an adequate OF long term

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    My question is do the Cubs think he is that bad against lefties, or are they trying to make his numbers look better for trade value? Other teams have to notice he sits against lefties right? I think the Pirates would be a perfect fit for LaHair too.

  • In reply to JR Cubbies:

    It seems the general thought around the league is that he'd be far less effective against lefties and that the Cubs are trying to protect him (and his value) by sitting him down against many LHP. Any team acquirng him will probably do so under the assumption that he will be a weapon primarily against RHP.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Any chance that it is about showcasing Baker for a trade?

  • In reply to Lance Dickson:

    Very good chance of that, but that's only part of the reason. The Cubs wouldn't hamper LaHair's development to showcase Baker alone. There are likely genuine concerns about his ability to be productive against LHP.

  • So long as the return is right, they should be willing to trade anyone on the roster.

  • In reply to Eddie:

    Sure, but not always easy to get value for players. I think all these three players wouldn't recoup enough on their own to make it worth while -- but if paired with Dempster, I think they could significantly increase the value of the return.

  • At this point I defer to Theo & Jed as to what is best for the Cubs in 2014 and beyond. I like all three of those guys, who in my opinion could be quite helpful to a championship run, but if it brings an impact player back, I say yes.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    Agreed on all counts.

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    John, I completely agree with your last paragraph; if including one of the aforementioned players in a trade is the difference between receiving a true impact talent versus a DeWitt-type player in return, then clearly no one should be off the table. Obviously people may argue about what constitutes an "impact" player and there will be no end of second-guessing but a team composed primarily of middling talent role-players isn't going to win the WS.

    To use the hackneyed old adage, "to make an omelette, you gotta break a few eggs."

  • I do like the idea of packaging some of these type players with Garza and Dempster if it helps get very good prospects. I don't want to see anymore Michael Bowden type players coming back to us. Worthless..

  • In reply to JR Cubbies:

    That's exactly the point I'm trying to get across. You can maybe trade Dempster, but a team may only be willing to part with a secondary prospect because they'll only have Dempster for 2-3 months.

  • If we should include any of these 3 players in a deal if it means
    getting a better prospect(s) in return. Theo/Jed are going to
    have to make the best deals they can keeping the 40-man
    roster in their mind with every deal. We have to trust the new
    scouting dept. do find the right prospects.

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    We do, and if it means getting a guy they really want over a guy they kinda want, then I think they should do it.

  • I happen to like LaHair, Barney, and Campana and would be reluctant to trade any of them because they're adequate at their positions and give their all. If they have to be added to a trade to get quality, then fine. Otherwise, don'ta toucha da merchandisa!

  • In reply to shalin:

    LOL! Those are pretty much my sentiments.

  • At this point, I would say that LaHair is the most dispensable, which is sad, because I like him. That being said, he doesn't appear to be the future at first base, and I think his ability to play the outfield is very limited. He brings a lot of value as a power lefty bat, either off the bench, as a DH, or as a 1B.

    I'd like to see how Barney continues to develop. He could be an important piece in a couple of years. If the club is serious about building the team around pitching and defense, you can't just fill the roster with players like Cardenas (who I'm not sold on yet as a major league hitter anyway). Barney is cheap and young, and plays defense. And he tends to be a fairly clutch hitter, which is something this team sorely lacks.

    I still don't like Campana as an everyday player, but I like him as a fifth outfielder an awful lot. He can create runs almost single-handedly if he can get on base. It has been a long time since I've seen a Cub with that kind of ability - I'd hate to get rid of him because of that reason alone.

    I should say that nobody should be untouchable, but the return has to have upside beyond what the current players provide in the cases of Barney and Campana.

  • In reply to TheSinisterUrge:

    Nice analysis. I'd have to say I'm pretty much in line with what you say here. But the thing for me is, if it brings back someone like Justin Turner as a headliner instead of say, Casey Crosby, then you have to give it a lot of consideration.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I understand that.

    I also have a hard time coming to grips with this team not being close to competing right now. If it helps to get a high-upside player that can really contribute when the team is competing, then you do it. It's just hard thinking of the Cubs as a small-market team, which is very much how the front office is approaching this re-build.

    I guess that I'm thinking that these are the kind of glue guys that the Cubs were missing when they were competing that might have helped make the difference. They are also easy to like, as they put forth effort - a far cry from some of the "stars" the Cubs have had over the past few years. As a fan who still thinks a lot more with his heart than with statistics, that makes a difference, too.

  • In reply to TheSinisterUrge:

    I think the reason they are treating this team as a "small-market" team is because of the rebuilding that is going on. I think once they get all the right pieces in place you will see them spend some money. Right now they are in "clean-house" mode and are trying to get a return for pieces from the old regime.

  • In reply to lokeey:

    I agree. And they also have to get rid of some terrible contracts that the old regime brought in. When you've got an $18 million albatross in left field, you have to look for value elsewhere. I agree that it's only temporary, and that once some of the higher profile prospects are ready to go, the FO will use some saved money to bring in complimentary pieces - particularly pitching.

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    In reply to TheSinisterUrge:

    Hrm. You're right that Barney, LaHair, and Campana (esp. Barney and Campana) have intangible value that could make the difference on a competing team. You're also right that they're easy to root for because they seem to work hard and play the game in the right way (i.e. because they legitimately love it). The question is do the Cubs build a strong base and then find the role-players in the minors or do they keep the current role-players and then hope that the base can be created from the current minors and a few trades?

    Personally, I'd love to believe that all the talent the Cubs need to win is mostly there already and that what's lacking is coaching. They've shown glimmers of the ability to win convincingly but I'm just not sold yet.

    (I will say I appreciate the level-headed positivity I find here. It makes for easier reading and participation.)

  • In reply to Bobby Douglas:

    I think the former is likely a more realistic and successful approach than the latter.

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    In reply to CubsFanInNorway:

    Indeed.

  • In reply to Bobby Douglas:

    Thanks Bobby...I like to take every opportunity I can to mention that the commenters/contributors here are top-notch, both in terms of their baseball knowledge and the way they can express their opinions in a respectful, mature manner.

  • In reply to TheSinisterUrge:

    Well, I think in this case, they are looking to help a small market club that may not be able to retain Dempster by giving them an MLB player that will be around after next year.

    The Cubs can certainly hang on to these guys but they have to assess a) when they think they can truly compete and b) whether these players can still be valuable pieces then.

    They have much more information than I do as to how players similar to LaHair, Campana project as 30 year olds, so I trust they'll make the right decision there.

    But if they think they can compete in 2 years, they may want to hang on to all of these players. It's a judgment call, but we know that Theo has said if he errs, he wants to err on the side of long term thinking.

  • Lahair and Vitters, two upsides, for one potential impact is interesting.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    I should mention that certain prospects as "compensation" is also in play. Cubs will obviously hold on to guys like Rizzo, BJax, but a guy like Vitters might be in play if it sweetens the deal.

  • I'd rather the Cubs hold onto their young cost-controlled starters and instead sweeten the Dempster/Garza/Soto deals with prospects who are doubtful to ever reach starter status in the majors. Our minor league teams are full of non-impact players who have an outside chance of contributing significantly to a major league team

    Barney has shown that he could be a cost controlled starting second baseman for many years, and Campana is doing really well this season.

    As for LaHair, he's our MVP this season and I'd hate to part with him as merely a throw-in in a deal for a prospect. If the Cubs trade him I'd like to see them trade him straight up for proven talent. Maybe there's a team in the American League with a shortage at first base/DH but a surplus at some other position, especially pitching or third base. How about LaHair and Vitters as a package deal?

  • In reply to baseballet:

    That's another route you can take, and I actually just mentioned it in the comment above, coincidentally.

    But when you're talking about teams who are trying to win now, the above players may actually have a lot more value.

    They'll have to balance all these options and see whats best for the long term health of the franchise.

  • I don't think trading Barney would be a wise move. I still think he adds value. He had a short stint in 2010 and a full year in 2011. I don't think fans should give up on him just yet.

  • In reply to lokeey:

    Oh, I'm not giving up on him at all. I think he's a solid regular in the big leagues. The question is, can you replace him with reasonably similar value easily. If the Cubs think someone like Cardenas or Valbuena can provide similar value, they may see what they can get if adding a player like Barney significantly increases the value of the deal.

  • I'm sure Keith Law is right to say that *some* MLB GMs are less inclined to trade prospects this year, due to the new CBA. But old habits die hard, and you're talking about a very ambitious, impatient group of men, whose first priority is to win the World Series in 2012.

    It goes without saying that the Cubs avoid giving away their players for nothing, especially the three guys above.

    But as John points out, the Cubs are in a strong position in terms of being able to offer a veteran asset like Dempster or Soriano, along with a guy who has a cost-controlled future like LaHair or Barney. We could also toss in a prospect like Vitters, which would offer a little political insurance for a GM who may be giving away his team's best prospects. On top of all that, the Cubs have the financial flexibility to pay more of Soriano's salary, for instance, if it means we get a better prospect in the deal.

    With all these variables, I think this front office will find a way to add some pretty good prospects before the end of July -- maybe not a future ace but some starter candidates who can give us more prospect depth at that position.

  • In reply to Taft:

    I agree with this, big-time. It doesn't matter what owners/GM's say. They might want to think long-term, or about cost control, but somebody is always going to be willing to pay.

    How often have we seen CBA arguments in ALL sports where owners demand that player salaries be controlled in some way, then as soon as the deal is settled, you have teams overpaying for free agents again? Somebody will pay the price if they feel the deal gives them a competitive advantage right now. And why shouldn't they? I'd say that most deals turn out in favor of the team acquiring established talent over those receiving high-potential prospects.

  • In reply to Taft:

    Nice post, Taft. Some great points here.

  • I think it's gonna be a seller's market on starting pitching and we won't have to pair one of our young guys to get back a good return. I don't think anyone's untouchable, but it would have to be a big increase in what we get back for me to want to part with any of those three guys. Campana's a game changer, and LaHair I'd want to keep out in left till we see what Rizzo does with major league pitching this time around. Barney I'd probably be the most willing to part with, but he really does have a Derek Jeter, captain of the infield vibe about him, and helps stabilize Castro at short.

  • In reply to Carne Harris:

    Good point on Barney stability.

  • In reply to Carne Harris:

    It's funny how (until now) Barney has always found himself on winning teams. He's the kind of guy you want, not as a star, but as a great piece on a contending team. If the Cubs think they can be that soon, then they probably won't deal him unless it really adds significant value to the return.

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    OK first of all you do not trade any of these three unless you know for 100% that they are not going to be in the future fold. If they are not then you do not include them in a trade unless the bring back a top 50 prospect. All three players could play everyday on any other team.

  • In reply to Larry:

    All 3 could conceivably play everyday on this team, and I'm sure that is part of the consideration for the Cubs. The question is about value and whether they can get long term surplus value in return.

    I also look at it this way, once the Cubs build that foundation they're speaking of, they'll be much more inclined to bring in good veterans through FA and/or trade to fill in gaps.

  • I believe it would be ridiculous to trade off cost controlled players, since that is what we're looking for. LaHair could be the next Nelson Perez, while Barney could either be our starting 2b or a super sub. Campana may wear down, but think about chaos. I think of a chaotic defense, maybe the Shaq defense of yelling "Rarrr!" and having all 5 players run towards the one with the ball. It eventually creates mistakes. Sure, he could use some help with his CF defense, but if we look back at the past 40 games, how many times has he helped win a game simply by stealing 2nd base and yelling "Rarrr!" They aren't centerpieces, but they aren't throwaways either. Give me a potentially more valuable player, sure. But don't trade for the sake of getting 2 A ball players who may not even be able to do the same thing. A spot on the 40 man roster may be a consideration, but so far, this year, I could argue these three have been some of our top players. In the end, I have faith in Jedeo. I'm sure they will do what is best.

  • In reply to StripClubDJ:

    LaHair was recently compared to Nelson Cruz. Some teams think he's that kind of late bloomer.

    I think the Cubs only consider it if it significantly increases the package. Do you take someone like Casey Crosby or Andy Oliver, for example, who many think will end up in the pen, for Dempster, or do you add one of these players if it means getting a Jacob Turner, who many think can be a #1 or #2 starter.

  • Getting into the playoffs, then a league championship game, then the World Series and finally to win a World Series is very elusive and more so as you progress. Therefore it depends on the philosophy/desire of the team to go all out to catch that elusive dream. I don't believe that a team that is "pedal to the metal" on that dream is gonna be concerned with the lack of a compensation pick if the player they obtain doesn't sign and becomes a a non-compensation free agent

  • In reply to Moonlight:

    That was certainly the case in the past, so it could well happen again. Teams have made big deadline deals for rental players before compensation was around and could well happen now too. It'll be interesting to see, this is a big offseason because it is a seller's market. If there is any time you can get great prospects in exchange for rental pitchers, this would be the year.

  • The best way to win in professional sports is to have better players than the competition. I don't think any of these 3 guys would rank in the top 5 in the league at their positions. So if Cubs management finds a desirable trade, in my opinion they should go ahead.
    Separate question - When Epstein and Hoyer joined the Cubs last fall, the hirings were almost universally praised. With media observers around baseball going so far as to call Epstein a "genius" I wondered if it made other teams hesitant to trade with the Cubs. Have you ever had that impression? If yes, do you think it is wearing off as time passes?

  • In reply to Rosemary:

    I suspect rival GMs roll their eyes when they hear about Epstein being a "genius." I can imagine there's some who resent his youth and his ambition. And I'm sure Larry Lucchino (sp?) has done his best to try to black ball Epstein after their acrimonious parting. But the bottom line is that these GMs each think they're the smartest guy in the room, and they'd do a deal with the devil if they thought it made their teams better.

  • In reply to Taft:

    They've all got big egos, but it also makes them more cautious because they don't want to get burned either. I think if they make a deal with Theo, they use a lot of the same types of value parameters and want to make sure they're the ones coming out on top. I don't think you'll see someone like AA giving up more value than he's getting back for the sake of trying to win now.

  • In reply to Rosemary:

    That's a good question.

    There are some guys, like Jon Daniels (TX) and Alex Anthropolous (Tor) who are brash and confident -- and also successful veterans like Brian Cashman (NY) but so far none have been willing to make a significant deal with Epstein.

    Some egos involved but I have to think it's human nature to be at least a little wary of dealing with a guy who many consider to be among the smartest in the game. You don't want to "lose" these deals. While I don't see them as being afraid to deal, I do see them wary of taking a big gamble.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    That being said, I think if there is a match, any of these guys would make a deal.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Exactly. Trades don't have to be a zero-sum game (i.e. I win, you lose). One can easily envision multiple scenarios where trades work to the advantage of both parties.

    Although now that I'm thinking about it, I wonder if NL AL trades work out better than intra-league trades for the simple reason that a given team is less likely to try to con their respective trading partner since the odds of them facing each other in a game situation is so much lower.

  • In reply to Bobby Douglas:

    Also, the American League has extra spots for bashers who can't play the field. Every AL team has two potential positions for Bryan LaHair. That's why I think he could be really valuable as a trade chip on his own. In fact, he might have as much trade value to an AL team as any other Cub except Castro.

  • In reply to baseballet:

    LaHair would be a great pickup for an AL team in my opinion. A cheaper, younger, LH version of Soriano with better upside.

  • In reply to Bobby Douglas:

    Well Theo and Cashman jokingly said that they'll finally be able to deal now, so maybe you're right. I think they were only half-joking.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    John this post is really interesting. I had considered the Cubs trading all the usual suspects, but I hadn't considered them trading their younger cost controlled players too.
    One factor in favor of holding onto Barney and LaHair (who I realize isn't young, but at least he's inexpensive), both of them are patient hitters and therefore show up bright red in Theovision.

  • In reply to baseballet:

    Thanks baseballet!

    I think it's a legitimate question. And LaHair does fit the profile of the kind of hitter they want. However, where does he play in 3 years?

    In some ways, LaHair is both a long term player because of his bat and cost control and in others, he's a short term guy because his value on a team with a younger, more talented 1B is limited.

    I think players like LaHair present great opportunities for the Cubs. Guys that have long term value to other teams but perhaps less value, for various reasons, to the Cubs.

  • The entire article is specious. Of course we should sweeten any deal with Barney, Campana, etc. if it results in increasing the total return by a greater amount than not including Barney, Campana, etc.

    But the reasoning should not be limited to LaHair, Barney or Campana.

    If by including Castro, we can increase the total return by a value greater than Castro, then we should include him.

    If, by including Baez, we can increase the total return by a value greater than Baez, then we should include HIM.

  • I have always been a fan of trading a group of lesser guys for one much better guy. (The Garza trade, in principle at least), and against trading one great guy for a bunch of middle ranking guys (The Manny Trillo trade for those old enough to remember.

    But my point is that that concept should not be limited to marginal (if you want to use that term) players. If by trading Dempster, we can only get a class c prospect, but by including Castro we can get a young Josh Hamilton (or whoever you think is the best value in baseball), we would be foolish not to do it.

  • In reading my post above, I see that I misspoke in the first paragraph. I said

    The entire article is specious. Of course we should sweeten any deal with Barney, Campana, etc. if it results in increasing the total return by a greater amount than not including Barney, Campana, etc.

    What I meant to say was

    The entire article is specious. Of course we should sweeten any deal with Barney, Campana, etc. if it results in increasing the total return by a greater amount than THE VALUE OF Barney, Campana, etc.

  • In reply to DaveP:

    Correction: You missed the point entirely.

    That's not what I'm saying here, so not sure why you narrowed your focus to such an obvious point. It's no great insight to say you'll trade anyone if you get surplus value in return. That's not what this is about. I

    I'm talking here about specific players that could conceivably get traded because they are cost-controlled but not necessarily long term pieces. In many ways, LaHair, Campana, and to a lesser extent Barney, don't figure as major contributors when the team becomes competitive. That cannot be said of Castro, Baez, or any other potential impact player who figures to be in their peak, cost-controlled years while the Cubs are competing.

    There is a difference here. I'm not making some blunt point about getting surplus value in a deal.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    The second point is entailed in my response to Felzz below...

    "The point here is that analysts like Law are saying teams are willing to give up less for a player like Dempster because a team knows they will probably lose him at the end of the year without the compensatory pick(s) they would have received in the past.

    In the absence of those picks, the Cubs may have to offer a cost-controlled player (or non-impact prospect) as a substitute to get the same kind of value that you would have gotten for Dempster under the old CBA."

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    But your specific point is that the Cubs should toss in a Campana in order to increase the return only makes sense if the increase in return from tossing in Campana results in an increase in return on the trade that is equal to or greater than it would have been if Campana is included.

    And while true, it is not restricted to fringe players like Campana. We should toss in anyone if the increase in value exceeds the value of the toss-in.

    There is no doubt that the change in the rule results in a devaluation of a Dempster. But what Dempster's value was under the old rules is not relevant in any way. If we can only get less for Dempster, then we have to decide if we want to trade Dempster at his current market value or keep him. The question of tossing in extra players to bring our return up to what it formerly was doesn't seen to make a difference. If we had traded Dempster last yea along with Campana (or whoever else on the team had equivalent value at that time) we would have gotten more for the two than we would this year. No matter how many you toss in this year, you will get a smaller return than you would have gotten last year.

  • In reply to DaveP:

    Its not about Dempster's individual market value, either. Let me try this a different way. It's about compensating teams because they have lost the ability to gain a compensation pick or two when Dempster becomes a free agent because new CBA rules prohibit teams from gaining picks for free-agents-to-be that are obtained mid-season.

    Let's pretend Dempster was a FA-to-be last year. A team like Detroit could have said, hypothetically, "Ok, we'll give you Jacob Turner for Ryan Dempster because we know that because Dempster is a top free agent, it's not really a straight up deal. After the season, we let him go, and pick up a draft pick (or two, depending on whether he would have been a type A or B in the old system)."

    In other words, last year, the deal would effectively have been Jacob Turner for Ryan Dempster and one or two prospects, as suppl. picks tend to be considered top prospects right away.

    The new CBA has ended that option for Detroit to pick up suppl. picks, so the Cubs may have to compensate them by adding a younger, cost-controlled player in lieu of the prospect they would have picked up through the draft. It makes the most sense that the Cubs would only want to add a player that won't impact their own long term future (just as suppl. picks would not have affected their future either). The team a the other end of the deal, Detroit in this case, would instead receive a player they can use now and in the future.

    It's a substitute for the trade value of free agents-to-be lost through the new CBA. I suggested these 3 players, but that's not to say their value is necessarily equal to a supplemental pick. That's up for Detroit (or whatever team) to decide. As some suggested, they may prefer a prospect. Others may prefer immediate help like a Campana, LaHair, or Barney. As some contributors have suggested, maybe the value of a current MLB player is worth more than a supplemental pick and the Cubs should be getting even a bigger return than they would have in a straight up deal under the old CBA rules. That specific value is up for Theo and his trade partners to decide. The only point here is that teams have to be creative when dealing for FAs-to-be to recoup lost value, not of the player himself, but because of restrictions of the new CBA.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Exactly, John. We get off track if we talk about a player's value as if it's some objective quantity. It isn't, and that's the whole point of trading: Dempster's value to the Cubs is marginal, while his value to the 2012 Blue Jays is immense, potentially. In the same way, Campana, LaHair and Barney have a different value for the 2015 Cubs than they do for a 2012 contender. By the same token, the Blue Jays' prospects are *slightly* less important to the franchise right now, because those prospects can't help the team win a World Series right now, which is ultimately the point of the franchise.

    As you point out, it's foolhardy to talk about one team getting more "value" in a trade. One is getting apples. The other's getting oranges.

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    In reply to DaveP:

    Campana has more value as a pinch runner than anything else. He's not a very good hitter. He has 4 rbi's. People talk about him like he's an established all-star. He's a fringe 5th OF who can run, that's it. He has more value to an NL team than an AL team because of the double switch/ph, etc. He's not going to be a starter on this team 3-4 years from now. Does anyone really think he's going to beat out Brett Jackson, etc.?

    Barney is going to have similar problems that led to Ryan Theriot becoming a journeyman the last 3 seasons. Once Barney reaches arbitration he becomes too expensive for the mediocre production he gives. Unless he starts driving in something like 60 runs per year and picks up his game, he's only a starting player now because he's cheap. Nobody is going to be eager to take a 30 rbi guy and pay him $2.5-3 mil. As a result, Barney's value, both to the Cubs and other teams, is at it's peak right now. And if he doesn't improve his offense he won't be in the Cubs plans 3-4 years from now when they are actually competitive, so if you can get a good prospect for him, deal him now.

  • For some reason I keep thinking of the great Senator Clay Davis line from "The Wire".

    "I'll take any Mother#$&!?'s money if they giving it away....."

    There's nobody on this trade you NEED to trade. It's simply a matter of who you can get. I can't possibly see any reason why someone would want Darwin Barney, let alone give up someone of any use. Same reason with Tony Campana. I don't see someone giving up anything for what is basically a pinch runner.

    Lahair....Now if The Theocrats could get a pitcher for Lahair, one they think could really be a diamond, then I think you have to consider it.

    But there isn't a Need to trade anyone. Only when you know it will fetch a propper return. Right now that's Dempster. And maybe only Dempster....

  • In reply to felzz:

    Sure, but what if Dempster + Barney lands you a better prospect. The point here is that analysts like Law are saying teams are willing to give up less for a player like Dempster because a team knows they will probably lose him at the end of the year without the compensatory pick(s) they would have received in the past.

    In the absence of those picks, the Cubs may have to offer a cost-controlled player (or non-impact prospect) as a substitute to get the same kind of value that you would have gotten for Dempster under the old CBA.

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    In reply to felzz:

    ...because Demp is really on his game and sees a win-win situation for himself and the team/city that is his home*.

    (*ref. his little one's medical status; one doesn't give up a stable environment and trusted medical care willy-nilly).

  • I think you use D. Barney and T. Campana to sweeten a deal, but I think LaHair has enough value to be dealt on his own and get fair value. I think that, yeah FA compensation hurts the value of assets you want to trade, but that should only affect it so much. Teams should try to come up with other ways to make a deal square, such as 1) deal for the player you want earlier, either in early June or if you want the possible FA compensation, before the year starts 2) add other prospects to the deal to try to make it more fair.

    Now, I realize teams don't like trading prospects for prospects in these big-league deals, but that is where we are headed I believe. I don't honestly get the reluctance of big league teams and fans to part with minor league talent. Just look at the M. Garza deal. Are any of those prospects really gonna make an impact for TB? Hak-Ju Lee is struggling, C. Archer's command has fallen apart, and the other minor players are just that -- minor players.

    We should exploit this market imbalance by adding quantity in minor league prospects we deem expendable. There are most definitely untouchables like J. Baez in our system, but I wonder how much value we could've gotten for J. Vitters when he was more highly regarded. Same with R. Cedeno, and F. Pie to some degree.

    Other big league teams may value our minor league prospects differently from us, just like in the case of D. Barney and how he is viewed differently. We should definitely try exploiting this area.

  • In reply to I miss Ron Santo:

    Good point. There really isn't a lot of prospect for prospect deals anymore - the kind they call "challenge deals". One notable one was the Delmon Young for Matt Garza deal. Brett Wallace for Anthony Gose was another.

    I agree. I'd like to see more GMs make those kind of deals.

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    John, I'm on nights right now. So if this was mentioned above, my apologies, but there is no "All of the above" choice in the poll.

    Mr. Law and others may have a point regarding compensation picks for pending free agents, or the lack there of, and selling teams having to make up for the loss of a compensation pick with a cost controlled player, but what none of them seem to have bothered to consider is that the value of that cost controlled player is probably more than the overall value of the compensation pick. The cost controlled player has already made it or is close to making it as a major league player, where as the odds of that compensation pick ever making it are long. So the argument can be made that, because a seller is having to make up for a compensation pick the buyer will no longer receive, the seller should receive even more.

    In the end, this is going to be on a case by case basis. Big market teams probably won't care as much. Small market teams, who are more heavily dependent upon the draft, will probably care more, but in the end, if you think a seller has something that to offer that will help you win a World Series, it probably won't really matter.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    On this poll you can pick more than one answer, so you can click all 3 players if you like.

    Your second point is an excellent one, especially for a team that is contending now. Not only do they get a long term player, they get one that can help their team in this particular pennant race and then again for the next several years. So the value of that player is in many cases much larger than that of a comp pick.

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    In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    Ugh. Night shifts, I can relate. 6 years of cardiovascular ICU night shifts...

    You wrote what I was thinking; the value of a high-upside prospect like Baez or Lake is a lot different than the value of a current Show player like Barney. In the first case, the true MLB value is unknown (albeit somewhat projectable) whereas a current player like Barney has been pretty well established (within reason).

    Sometimes a bird in the had really isn't worth more than two in the bush (leagues).

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    In reply to Bobby Douglas:

    Bobby Douglas from Metropolis, IL?

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    In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    No. Bobby Douglas from several points south and west. :-)

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    In reply to Bobby Douglas:

    Technically "Bobby Douglas" is 2/3rds of my real name. Incidentally, I have a familial relationship with another poster on this board. If you guess right, I'll buy you a hat from Wrigleyville Sports. :-) Seriously.

    Oh, as a complete non sequitur, everyone should write up a living will. DNRs are good things.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    Good points. Additionally, I think the impact of the loss of compensation picks under the new CBA will be counterbalanced to some degree by the expanded playoffs. With an extra wildcard in each league there should be more buyers. Indeed, by all accounts there will be a seller's market this year. If that is true, the buyers won't be able to dictate terms of deals. Put simply, there likely won't be many players like Dempster available and multiple teams looking for those players. For the teams that could use Dempster, the inability to get a compensation pick may not provide much negotiating leverage. I don't think that means the Cubs will get a king's ransom for Dempster, but the lack of a compensation pick may not be much of an issue.

  • Morrow just hit the DL and Drabek left his start with a popping sensation in elbow, Toronto just lost 40% of thier rotation in a day. AA may be getting or making a few calls today if He wants to stay in the race .

  • In reply to Bryan Craven:

    Wow! Could see a deal happening soon. Dempster?

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    They called up a position player to replace Morrow, They have to get an arm or 2 to stay in the race I would think. I would hope that Theo has his sights set on Syndargaard or Nicolino . Romero cant do it by himself. They could use LaHair too. Best trading partner out there other than the Rangers prospect wise. Get er done Theo.

  • In reply to Bryan Craven:

    Seems to me that Toronto's more likely to pack it in. They're six games back, two pitchers down and recently sweep by the Nationals. I don't think now is the time to deal young talent to the Cubs. It's more likely that the Jays will bring up some of that young pitching talent now that their starters are dropping like flies.

  • In reply to Taft:

    That could well be. It's a shame because AA has done such a great job of making his team competitive against the heavy hitters, and now that he has a shot, his pitchers go down. There's some thought out there that they realize Jose Bautista is in his prime and may not have a big window, so they may just make a move --- but I do think it may make it more likely they shoot for Garza than Dempster, since Garza will be around next year to give it another go with this core.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    That's a good point. If I was AA, I'd consider making a strong play for Garza. He could keep them in the hunt in 2012 and he'd still be around when they go for broke again in 2013.

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    BTW, non-thread related: Padilla just tweeted that Theo and Dempster are sitting by themselves in the stands on the third base side having a conversation. Anyone want to guess as to what they might be talking about?

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    There is a great photo of that conversation out there too. My optimistic guess is that Theo got the kind of deal he was hoping to get and is talking it over with Demp to make sure to get his final approval before accepting it :)

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Perhaps, but it may also be about leaving a door open for Dempster to come back after his playing days are over. I get the feeling there is some mutual respect there.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    I'm sure the door is open, but that's always easier in theory than in practice -- -though I do think because of his close ties to Chicago, like Kerry Wood, Dempster is more likely to come back than most players.

  • For example look at the 3 (4?) team trade of Sea, Phi and Tor. Also, Oak made a separate deal afterwards with Tor so it was kind of a 4 team trade.

    Tor: RHP - R. Halladay + (prospects RHP - P. Aumont, OF - T. Gillies, RHP - J.C. Ramirez)

    Sea - C. Lee

    Tor - (prospects - K. Drabek, OF - M. Taylor*, C - T. D'Arnaud)

    Oak - prospects (1B - B. Wallace for OF - M. Taylor)*

    Tor immediately traded OF - M. Taylor to Oakland for B. Wallace, and then sadly realized he wasn't any good and traded him to Hou for prospect A. Gose I believe.

    This is a pretty good example of the kinda trade I think the Cubs should try to make. Trade R. Dempster, but also trade a few prospects to sweeten the deal like in the case of the package of prospects Phi received for R. Halladay. None of those prospects has amounted to much with P. Aumont possibly helping as a relief pitcher.

    I totally wouldn't mind if the Cubs included a J. Rosario/A. Cabrera/M. Sczcur/L. Watkins/J. Vitters and maybe even J. Lake if it meant we got a better package back with more impact talent. The longer you're a fan the more you realize how many heralded prospects fail or get hurt before they even help the big league club.

  • In reply to I miss Ron Santo:

    I think it's going to depend on the team as to whether they'll want a prospect or a player than can help them now. If I'm the Tigers or another team with a limited window to win, I say take the player. If I'm a team that's consistently cranking out players like the Rangers who figure to be good for the foreseeable future, I'll take the prospect. But that's just my opinion.

  • Yeah, we'll see. I just like feel like prospects are overvalued right now. IMPACT prospects are still valuable, but my definition of them is only like Baseball America Top 25/50. Even then I don't agree with their rankings. I know M. Sczcur is rated in their Top 100, but I don't think he'll develop into a great, impact talent unless I'm severely underestimating how good he is on defense in CF. J. Vitters was a Top 100 prospect and we almost traded him to Cle to get C.C. Sabathia. Instead, Cle traded him for a crappy package around M. LaPorta who hasn't amounted to much.

    So many prospects are overrated. I think in the future prognosticating which prospects have the best chances of making it to the big leagues will become even more important. I think we chose A. Almora because we feel he has the best chance of anyone in the draft to reach his potential and become an impact talent. M. Prior was the same way. There aren't many prospects like that I realize, but those are the only ones you don't trade IMO. Everyone else is fair game...

  • In reply to I miss Ron Santo:

    Good stuff and I don't disagree at all. I do think prospects are overvalued these days. I think the assumption is often made that they will reach their ceiling, which we know isn't often true.

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    John, why is the rotation being tweaked to give Dempster an extra day off?

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    I think it's Shark getting the extra day. I know they were working with him on some things on the side.

  • Almora was the top player in the draft this year , I said it before the Cubs took him and in 4 years unless He gets hurt He will prove it. I am very confident in the kid, Even if He has the Devil representing him .

  • In reply to Bryan Craven:

    I'm very sure they'll sign him, but the earlier, the better. With Boras, though, it'll probably be last minute as usual.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I'm not sure Boras can play the waiting game like he used to with draftees. At some point the Cubs are going to have to cut deals with the other players they drafted in the first 10 rounds. Every deal they make leaves less available money for the top pick. So the longer Boras waits, the smaller the pool of available funds becomes. That being the case, waiting doesn't provide the same leverage as it used to.

  • In reply to RSBeast:

    Excellent point RSBeast. At some point he may arrive at a take it or leave it offer because if the Cubs have agreed with other players, Theo can rightfully say, this is all we have to give.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    That's why I think we're seeing a lot of high draft picks sign quickly. No one wants to be the last one at the money trough.

  • It seems the Dempster trade might be happening soon. I don't see other GM's not trading with Epstein/Hoyer, since more and more of the new GM's are cut from the same cloth as Epstein.

  • In reply to Steve Flores:

    I do think GMs are on much more equal footing these days as far as information and how it's used. However, there's still pride and teams may now allow Theo to gain surplus value in a deal so they can win now, which will make things difficult for Theo.

  • Probably to minimize innings and to accomadate the rotation of the team He is going to.

  • In reply to Bryan Craven:

    You're as optimistic as I am on this :)

  • yep, there is alot of smoke .

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    In reply to Bryan Craven:

    *Cough* Uh. Dave's not here, man. *Cough*

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    Sorry if this has already asked, but what about James Russell. I haven't heard his name talked about too much but the other day I saw his name in a Keith Law article as possible trade bait. Would he bring back a whole lot alone or would he fit into the Lahair, Barney, Campana catagory?

  • In reply to Kevin:

    I think Russell may actually have enough value on his own to bring something decent. Could go either way with him.

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    In reply to Kevin:

    I don't know about anyone else but in general I'm pretty "Meh" about our current RP situation. I've seen some good outings, but I've seen a lot of craptacular outings, too. I'm not a pitching coach and I haven't slept at a Holiday Inn lately so, uh, yeah.

  • gotta love any Cheech and Chong reference. I wonder what kind of impression Demp could do of one of those 2 lol.

  • By the way, Baez just hit one over the scoreboard in Beloit. Picture for the minor league recap.

  • John,

    I really like your theoesque creative thinking on now to obtain return value on a rental player under the new CBA. As many have stated here, I'm a big fan of all 3 players, but especially Barney whom I consider a true "gamer". Regarding Campana, I love watching a true burner. The last true speed guy I remember before Tony C was Angel Pagan, and I think Tony would dust him.

    Even though I'm a fan, I would trade any of these guys with dempster if it sweetened the deal, especially since we would be presumably trading these 3 from strength in our system.

    Let's hope Theo & Jed are reading your blog as well...

  • In reply to socalcub:

    Thanks socalcub!

    I think it's a good compromise for teams who don't want to give up much for a rent-a-player and the Cubs who don't want to give up a valuable long term piece. I think giving up a player would require at least one other prospect coming back to the Cubs as well, though.

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