With draft over, Cubs will focus on Soler, trade activity

With draft over, Cubs will focus on Soler, trade activity
Would the Cubs trade Matt Garza if the right offer came along?

The Cubs rebuild is really about to get started now.  Yes, the Cubs did trade Marshall and Zambrano last offseason, but I'm looking at this draft as the official start of the Cubs full-fledged rebuilding efforts. The team let Aramis Ramirez and Carlos Pena go, not just to save on salary, but to get the draft picks.  On Monday, the Cubs turned those picks into much needed starting pitching prospects.  The Cubs nabbed Missouri St. RHP Pierce Johnson, who some are now calling a potential steal, and California prep righty Paul Blackburn, who I think will move quickly through the system for a high school kid.

I'll talk about the rest of the draft later today, but those two moves are just the beginning of the process to build the type of foundation the Cubs have been talking about since Theo came to town

On the agenda:

  • Put in a strong offer for Jorge Soler.  Today is the deadline according to his agent Barry Praver, and the Cubs have been known to be heavily scouting Soler from the get-go.  In fact, here on this blog we felt that Soler has been the main target all along.  The Cubs had him in for a workout Wednesday, amid all the draft frenzy.  Hoyer had this to say about a potential Soler signing, "We've obviously scouted him extensively, like a lot of teams have. There are a lot of teams involved. We had a similar situation with (Yoenis) Cespedes this winter. It'll be intriguing, but certainly we've done our work on him." Obviously signing Soler would add yet another potential impact prospect after the Cubs drafted high ceiling talents such as Albert Almora, Johnson, Blackburn, and Duane Underwood.
  • The trade of Ryan Dempster.   We were the first to report he was willing to waive his trade rights when Tom gave us all the scoop 5 days ago.  The mainstream media outlets, such as ESPN and the Sun-Times, are reporting it now, but to our readers, that's old news.  The trade of Dempster is inevitable.  Both sides want it and the veteran pitcher is in demand.  The Cubs will take the best offer for that trade, whatever that may be.  I expect the Cubs to land a couple of very good pieces for him.  Dempster has been arguably the Cubs best pitcher this year, so it's going to make a bad season even worse, but everyone knows it's for the good of the long term health of the organization.  Even Dempster himself.  "Any one of us is susceptible to being traded," Dempster said. "For me, it's a little different because I have the right to say 'no.' … Obviously I want to do what's best for this organization. They've done nothing but right by me."  Dempster, like Kerry Wood, is a guy that will go out on good terms with Cubs fans.  And we shouldn't forget that Carlos Zambrano, though he sometimes let his emotions get the best of him, waived his no-trade rights as well when the Cubs needed it.
  • The long-awaited call-up of Anthony Rizzo.  The Cubs have really done this right.  They didn't call him up because the GM had something to prove, as Jim Hendry did when he called up Starlin Castro.  They didn't call him up to be the savior for a playoff push that never got started.  They waited until he was ready.  Most scouts agree he has fixed the flaws which troubled them a bit: the long, pull-happy swing and his ability to hit left-handed pitching.  He has improved his defense, which was good, but is even better now in terms of range.  He'll be a defensive upgrade over Bryan LaHair, for whom the Cubs will now have to clear some room in the lineup -- or possibly trade him.  I think even the most ardent supporters of a quick Rizzo call-up would now wait two more weeks when that saved MLB service time means the Cubs will have Rizzo guaranteed for one more year.
  • The potential trade of Matt Garza.  As much as Dempster is going to be in demand this year, the demand should be even bigger for Garza.  Unlike Dempster, however, a trade is not a foregone conclusion.  The Cubs have only indicated that they would listen on Garza and are not actively shopping him as they are with Dempster.  Still, with so many teams, such as the Yankees, Red Sox, Blue Jays, and Tigers rumored to be clamoring for his services, it's going to be very hard for the Cubs to ignore if a team makes enough noise in terms of a big offer.  We've speculated on various names in the past.  The Cubs are in a good spot with Garza. They can choose to keep him if they don't like what's coming back, since Garza is young enough to be part of the rebuilding process, but with the heavy competition expected for his services (the Yankees are said to be at the top of his list), I'd say there's a good chance the Cubs end up moving him.
  • Moving Alfonso Soriano and his contract. They won't be able to save much on the contract, but even saving 20-25% would be a plus.  Soriano is hitting the ball well and has been one of the Cubs most reliable, productive hitters of late, but he's not part of the team's future.  Making it especially evident is that his knees are getting to the point where he needs to be a DH.  Sitting down the LF line in a recent game, I was close enough to see how painful it was for Soriano to chase a ball down into the corner.  He no longer runs the bases well.  His value now is almost exclusively in his bat, so the sooner the Cubs can get him to the AL where he can DH, the better it will be for the Cubs and Soriano's own career.  It will keep him healthy and he can still be productive enough on offense to help a team, but the days of stealing bases are over, and his range on defense should begin to decline despite his improved defense so far this season.  Trading Soriano would also open up an OF spot for Bryan LaHair.
  • Fielding offers on all short-term players.  The list here is long as few current Cubs are expected to be here two years from now.  The most valuable of these players could be David DeJesus, who has proven to be a solid hitter with a very good approach at the plate.  He plays defense well enough to be an asset on both sides of the ball and he still runs the bases well.  Don't be surprised if the Cubs get a lot of calls on their savvy outfielder.  Bryan LaHair remains a possibility to be traded as well.  Despite this being his first full season in the bigs, LaHair doesn't figure as a long-term player because of his age, 29, the presence of Anthony Rizzo, and the limited window in which he has to play the OF.  The Cubs won't trade him just to trade him, however, as he could still be more useful as a bridge into the next era than he could as a trade piece right now.  One surprising trade chip may be Darwin Barney, who's having a solid year and I expect him to have a long career in the majors.  He can play SS and he's cost-controlled and may be more valuable than you might think at first glance.  Of course, that means he has value to the Cubs as well, but the Cubs do have two MLB ready 2Bs in Adrian Cardenas and Luis Valbuena, they can use for now.  I don't think they want to trade Barney, but if team's are offering a solid return, or if he can increase the return on a larger package, it may happen.  The industry people I've spoken to in the past seem to value Barney more than the average fan does.  The Cubs also have spare parts such as Jeff Baker, Reed Johnson, Shawn Camp, and starter Paul Maholm, who may bring in a prospect.
  • What to do with Carlos Marmol and Geovany Soto? Both players, despite being relatively young, are very much in doubt when it comes to the Cubs long-term plans.  Marmol is becoming an expensive player to have taking up a bullpen spot when he isn't saving games and Geovany Soto has two young catchers coming up right behind him in Steve Clevenger and Welington Castillo.  The problem is the value of both players has sunk about as low as you can get, so the Cubs shouldn't expect to get much in return here.  The Cubs may be better served to wait until the offseason on both when teams seem more amenable to projects (see Carlos Zambrano).
  • The international signing period.  Last year's signees: Luis Acosta, Marck Malave, and Ricardo Marcano have already been impressive in the early going while 2010 signee Jeimer Candelario continues to impress in extended spring training.  We'll have some more info on the available prospects soon.

Expect a hectic June and July here in Wrigleyville.  The draft officially opened the door to the rebuilding process and it's about to get going full steam this summer.




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  • The next 2 months are going to be very busy for the Cubs. Dempster will be traded soon, don't know where, but Iexpect him to be gone by no later than the end of this month. I would not be shocked if Garza, Soriano , LaHair and DeJesus are gone by the end of July. Your right about Marmol and Soto, if they are moved it will be after this season. I expect a team to make a very good offer for Garza, one that will be hard for the Cubs to pass up.

  • In reply to Steve Flores:

    Agreed. I don't think you trade everyone at once. The Cubs should get plenty to rebuild with if they trade Dempster, Garza, and someone like DeJesus.

    I can see LaHair being part of a package with either Garza or Dempster to bring back a huge haul of prospects.

  • and let the games begin

  • John, I can understand trading expensive guys who are not in the long-term plans, but I guess I don't get trading the cheaper guys, like Barney and DeJesus (unless they'd bring in some blue-chip prospects or major league-ready talent, which I'm guessing they won't). At what point does the quality of the prospect outweigh the loss of a starter?

    Am I off target here? Should we expect any and all trades to have a very likely impact on talent on the big league club within a year or two?

  • thanks for all the great draft info & all other cub stuff John. looking forward to stocking up the minors with these trades in hopes we can start to see some changes the next few yrs. interested in the international signing info as i have just started to learn so much more about the draft & minor leagues from you & excited to find out how that works & how we can continue to build in that area. hope you have a good weekend! peace

  • In reply to mditka:

    You're welcome...and thanks! We'll keep covering the draft and we'll also follow them as they make their pro debuts. Minors are going to be a lot more fun to follow in thnext few years!

  • I spent last night looking up the players the Cubs drafted with the game on mute in the background, barely paying attention. All this 2012 Cubs baseball is getting in the way of extended hot stove action.

    Im all for trading Garza. If the Cubs get a slew of prospects, they can always use the money you were going to use to extend Garza towards one of the free agent pitchers in 2013 (or reallocate the money in a number of directions). This way, you build the farm system & still have a #2-like starter. I like Garza alot. I like "sustained success" even more.

    May the baseball gods be in our favor on the Soler deal.

  • In reply to Cub Fan Dan:

    I agree that if you get a great deal, you have to do it. I just don't want them to settle --- and I don't think they will. Either they're getting good value back or they'll keep Garza.

    I don't really want to count on free agency to get a starter. It's hit or miss, not that I wouldn't take a chance if the right guy was there, but that's not something I'd want to depend on.

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    Hey John good article. Who does Dempster get traded to, and for what prospects.Also Who do you believe will step up and take Garza, and once again for what prospects. i know you don't have the answers so best guess will work.

  • In reply to Larry:

    The hope is Garza to the Jays, who have a lot of good prospects. The usual names like Syndegaard, Jimenez, McGuire and maybe a young cost controlled guy like Drabek that they can use to fill in for now and who has a high ceiling himself. With the Yankees the Cubs would talk about Banuelos, Betances, and a low A catcher named Gary Sanchez. With the Red Sox, it begins or ends with Middlebrooks.

    Lot of teams could go after Dempster, so many to speculate. I'll have to think about it. This article is more of an appetizer but Tom and I will have more stuff as things move forward.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Should mention Tigers too with Turner on top of the list. I'm sure they'd like Castellanos as well.

  • Pitching: I'd personally prefer to see Samardjiza & Garza as the foundation. If we trade Garza we get real thin real fast on top-end starters.

    Infield: Not much to say here that isn't obvious. Castro and Rizzo are the building blocks. 3rd base & 2nd base are up for grabs and will have to be filled through Free Agency, existing prospects Lake or Baez, traded-in prospects, and/or stop-gaps which we already have.

    OF: Assuming BJax comes up and pans out, this is another area that will have to be addressed through traded-in prospects or free agency by 2014. Not much in the system that is MLB-ready. Campana is a bench/role player/4th OF-er. I really like Dejesus, but he should be the 3rd best outfielder on the team, not the focal point. We need a power bat that scares opposing pitchers out there at some point.

    So really, the Cubs only have 4 players on the roster (or soon to be) that form a foundation: Shark, Garza, Castro and Rizzo. That's a lot of holes to fill....hopefully whatever comes back via trade is almost MLB-ready.

  • In reply to Cubswin4harry:

    I'm thinking I should add a poll here...

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Okay...added one! Kept it simple....should Cubs trade Garza? Please chime in the poll and/or comments section

  • In reply to Cubswin4harry:

    Can we assume Rizzo and Castro are building blocks for the future? Rizzo is still unproven at the ML level and Castro has the talent but so far not the head for it.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    Rizzo is a definite question mark, but the signs are there. Time will tell, hopefully we'll know by the end of this year or certainly by the middle of next.

    I personally think the Castro hubbub has been overblown. Yes, a few mental errors in the last week or so. The failure to slide on that steal is definitely stupid. Forgetting how many outs there are happens, he won't be the first or the last to do it. Quite frankly, it's easier to lose focus when you are playing for a last place team.

    His errors are down this year, his range and arm are top-notch, and he is showing adaptability at the plate to go along with his natural batting skills. Hands-down a foundation piece.

  • In reply to Cubswin4harry:

    Both guys are considered major pieces.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I like them both as well, but I will like Starling even more after he has a bigger block of time between incidents like being benched for not going after a popup, playing umpire on a hard slide at second as a run crosses the plate unchalanged, and stops turning his back as the pitch is being delivered. I love his improvement, but it is not just one or two times. My concern is that it will prove to be chronic.

  • Its really a tough call on Garza because while the prospects would be nice, someone has to be the leader of the staff and with Dempster assumed to be gone and Wood retiring there would be a real void in leadership to show the younger guys what it means to be a proffesional pitcher. All in all, I think they are better holding onto Garza.

  • In reply to RTGrules:

    It really isn't that easy, which is why the Cubs have to be "blown away" as execs like to say.

  • Here is how I see the next few yrs. Next year (2013) is going be another losing season. 2014 will be at .500. 2015 competitive. 2016 make playoff and 2017 top team in baseball.

  • In reply to WickitCub:

    I'm going to take a non-linear path here. The Cubs will show flashes next year of competing, wind up losing a lot, then by 2014 they'll make a run for the division title. 2015 will be big expectations but we'll see a plateau, then 2016 the Cubs are going to among the top teams in baseball.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    It's hard to imagine a team with a $150+ MM salary capability to be non-competitive for the next 4 years. I think they will make some splashes once the core is set next year and we'll be looking good in 2014.

  • In reply to vanald04:

    Yep...I'm looking at 2014, some will call me a blind optimist, but I think the Cubs will "surprise" that year.

  • This is the exciting part of this year for me!

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    Keep it dialed in folks, we've got some great posts coming later today.

  • Hey John, I would honestly like the Cubs to keep Garza as unfortunately teams are wary of giving up big packages for top-of-rotation starters these days. Also, how often do teams get impact prospects/starters that pan out in these trades? Remember when Det traded C. Maybin and A. Miller for M. Cabrera and D. Willis? Yeah, that trade worked out really well for the Marlins lol...

    The only team I see willing to give up enough talent to satiate Theo and company is Det this time. I think Toronto has enough talent, but they won't be willing to trade that many impact prospects for Garza.

    *I might be willing to trade M. Garza and D. Barney + low level prospects to Det for a package of M. Scherzer, prospects RHP J. Turner + 3B N. Castellanos + LHP A. Oliver.

    I do realize Det is giving up a lot of talent in this scenario, but they are "all in" this year expecting to not only win the division, but also make some noise in the postseason. They've been very disappointing so far, and their infield defense is atrocious. D. Barney becomes their starting SS, J. Peralta moves to 3B, and M. Cabrera/P. Fielder are relegated to 1B/DH. M. Garza becomes a very strong #2 starter behind ace Verlander, and this trade could create positive momentum for them.

  • In reply to I miss Ron Santo:

    Check out this piece I wrote a few months ago..

    That's why a Garza trade scares me too.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Huh, I missed that post. Great article! Yeah, it's difficult making a good trade when you're trading a really good pitcher. The good news is this front office will do the due diligence and research needed to make a good trade. I hope at least.

  • In reply to I miss Ron Santo:

    Thanks! It's why you really have to make sure you get the guys you want -- and even then you can't be sure.

  • Excellent points! Hopefully a bidding war develops between the American League East teams and Detroit and maybe even Texas and the Angels, and the Cubs can get a few more good prospects.

  • I'm sure there will be a lot of teams bidding. The Garza situation will be fun to watch.

  • I want to embrace Matt Garza, but I don't know if I really can. He still is way too shaky on defense for my liking, and he doesn't tend to help himself at the plate. He seems almost completely incapable of laying down a bunt. I understand it is hard to develop arms, but I just don't know if he is a National League pitcher.

  • In reply to TheSinisterUrge:

    Probably a better fit in the AL, but he's still a very good pitcher. Those kinds of things will keep him from being an ace, but he's a good front line pitcher.

  • The Cubs deserve to be favorites for Soler, because they're the team with the combination of deep pockets and desperation for young talent. That being said, the more likely scenario is that some other GM throws an ungodly sum of money at Soler and wins the sweepstakes. In other words, the Cubs are the favorite, but the winner is likely some other team in the field. Was it here that I read the analogy of a horse race? Because that's about the way I see it.

    If we do lose Soler to some GM with a blank check, it's not the end of the world. We'll have more money for other prospects.

  • In reply to Taft:

    I've made a horse race analogy a few times, and it does apply here. Even if the Cubs are the individual favorites, for Cubs fans, the only thing that matters is the Cubs vs. the field, and more often than not, the field wins.

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    Go ahead and trade the rest, but I just don't see getting the value for Garza. The other day John or Tom pointed out the status of the prospects the Cubs gave up to get him. What looked like overpayment a year and a half ago now looks much better for us. He's too young, too good, and I don't think that the Cubs are that far away from a good run.

  • In reply to Bham Cub Fan:

    It is going to be hard to get value. Exactly like that deal..everyone thought the Cubs gave up too much to get him, but now it looks like they'll get a solid defensive SS with speed in Lee plus a reliever in Archer. Knowing that, you make that trade again.

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    Felzwell Predicts:

    1) Garza, Barney and Vitters to the Tigers in exchange for Turner, Oliver, Crosby and Castellanos.

    2) Dempster and LaHair to the Blue Jays in exchange for Sean Nolin, Aaron Sanchez, John Berti and Anthony Gose.


  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    That is more than I can process.

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    In reply to 44slug:

    Okay, well process this. Felzz and I have this Vulcan mind meld thing going, hence Felzwell. So we share each others thoughts, even the most disgusting ones, and he has quite a few, though they usually involve Bobby Valentine. He'll never admit to it, but he gets all his great baseball ideas from me. Now, if I could only read my wife's mind like I read Felzz's.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    Interesting proposals.

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    Let's not let our emotions get us all bound up. With all the excitement going on with this nice draft it's easy to say let's trade everyone for young prospects. I'm not sold on trading Garza for ANYONE. I just don't see that "wow factor" being offered for Garza. And a 1-2 punch of Garza and Shark has a nice ring to it especially considering how the Shark will continue to progress.

    If we extend Garza's contract to 2016 (4 years), anything can happen. If we really make strides under Theo, 2016 will be his 5th year and we should be one of the best in baseball by then. Garza will be only 32 by then and still be attractive as trade bait each of the next 4 years if things are still looking bleak. A 4 year extension simply buys us time to see how things pan out and trading a #1 or #2 starter for prospects is one of the most risky things a team can do. It's extremely rare for a team trading that type of pitcher to come out on top.

    I say extend Garza's contract! Period..............

  • In reply to bocabobby:

    You're not alone Boca. A lot of people don't think the Cubs will get fair value for Garza, and if they don't, you can bet Theo/Jed won't trade him.

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