Cubs still have parts to deal as deadline nears but are all of them worth shopping?

Cubs still have parts to deal as deadline nears but are all of them worth shopping?

There has been little activity since the Cubs big trade of Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel, but that is to be expected.  The two pitchers were the Cubs most valuable pieces the team had and the only two trade chips expected to bring back impact talent, which as we all know, they did.

So what's left?

Not a whole lot, and frankly, not much that separates them from what other teams have to offer.  As such, I would expect any future deals to happen closer to the deadline.  Samardzija and Hammel were unique commodities with significant value, so we shouldn't be surprised that a creative team like the A's pounced on them early.

But what is going to make a team jump on Justin Ruggiano over Marlon Byrd, or James Russell over Oliver Perez? Or Luis Valbuena over Ben Zobrist?  I suspect that teams will wait to see where they can get the best offer.

Who will the Cubs trade?  I think the better question is who should they shop and who should they merely listen on until they get an offer worth pursuing.


Listen on...

Luis Valbuena

I'm not a big fan of trading Valbuena because I think he has more value to the team as a role player than he does as a trade chip.  He is cost controlled, he's versatile, and he provides some veteran leadership and continuity on a team that has really lacked both of those things.  He is an on the field example of the kind of approach the team espouses at the plate while being an asset when it comes to run prevention.

Given that the Cubs have gotten tepid interest in the past for similar players like David DeJesus and Jeff Baker, for whom the Cubs got a total of Marcelo Carreno and salary relief,  I am not optimistic about the return.  Yes, Valbuena has more cost control than either, but cost control didn't help the Cubs get anything for players like Nate Schierholtz and Bryan LaHair, both of whom had big first halves.

Maybe you get yourself an A ball pitcher who has a shot at being a bottom end starter or a bullpen arm, but I would like to think the Cubs have built enough depth where they don't need to trade value off the major league roster.

Is he a long term piece? No.  Is he a starter on a good team? No.  Does that mean the Cubs should just trade him?  Of course not.  Valbuena can start the season until Bryant or Baez is ready and then either move positions or move to the bench, where he can provide much needed insurance, a left-handed bat, and defensive value at 2B and 3B.

The A's could use an offensive upgrade at 2B and Valbuena fits their OBP philosophy, perhaps the teams can tweak the deal and upgrade the return on the PTBNL the Cubs are to receive from Oakland.

The Angles are looking for a left-handed bat off the bench.


Darwin Barney

Darwin Barney is a bit of a different story.  His value is all in his defense and he plays on a team that badly needs offense --- and is about to get some at 2B whether it is Javier Baez or Arismendy Alcantara, both of whom should also provide good defense anyway.

Barney could hold value to a team like the Giants, who are concerned with the health of Marco Scutaro.  The Orioles, Blue Jays, Cardinals, and Dodgers could be in the market for a 2B.

As for what the Cubs could get back?  Probably nothing much more valuable than organizational depth. roster space and small salary relief.


Listen on...

Justin Ruggiano

I think Ruggiano is a guy you prefer to keep on a team that lacks outfield depth,  He has a solid approach, some pop, and can play all 3 OF positions.  He is on board with the rebuild and like Valbuena, is cost controlled through the year 2016.

Another guy I think has more value to this team than what he could possibly get back in a deal.

Possibly nterested teams: Mariners, Royals, and the Reds


Nate Schierholtz, Ryan Sweeney

These two players no longer seem part of the plan.  Schierholtz is in his last year of control and likely won't be retained while Ryan Sweeney is signed to a minor deal.

The Los Angeles Angels are looking for LH bats off the bench and they could be a fit here, but considering Schierholtz wasn't going to bring much back in a career year and Ryan Sweeney is one year removed from being a waiver wire pickup, it seems that both players won't fetch much as they are having offseason.  Like Barney, this would be more about small salary relief and the roster spot while adding organizational depth.

Left-handed relievers

Listen on...

Wesley Wright

I thought the Wright signing was a mistake early in the year but I was wrong.  He has been the Cubs most reliable reliever and he has done two things very well: generate groundballs and hold the walks down.  That in itself makes him valuable and a good fit for the team, but with 3 teams looking for LH relief and the Cubs having 2 of the top 4 trade candidates, they may get an offer that is worthwhile here.

The Cubs have some depth with Chris Rusin, Zach Rosscup, and possibly Eric Jokisch, but they would likely prefer to keep a veteran here.

Teams looking for a LH reliever are the Braves, Nationals, and Dodgers.


James Russell

Russell has had a solid year in terms of his ERA at 2.54 but he has struggled with control and allowing inherited runners to score.  I think he is miscast as a LOOGY, which has been his primary role.  I think Russell relies quite a bit on feel more than he does stuff and needs an opportunity where he can pitch to more than one batter to get into a rhythm.

A change of scenery is in order here and the same 3 teams listed above would be interested. Both pitchers are arb eligible next year and will become free agents after the season.

Right-handed Relievers

Listen on...

Pedro Strop

The Cubs have so much bullpen depth, especially in terms of RH power arms, that they  can afford to listen on Strop, who was their best RP down the stretch last year.  Strop doesn't have ideal control, but he will miss bats and generate weak groundball contact, which gives him value in multiple situations.

Strop is arb eligible next year but doesn't become a free agent until after the 2017 season, so there is some value there as well.  Considering his excellent stuff, relative youth (29), and cost control, the Cubs will listen but it will take a good offer to pry him loose.


Carlos Villanueva

Villanueva has dual value as a relief pitcher and starting pitching depth.  He can be had as a cheap rental (pro-rated amount of $5M salary) that also won't cost much in terms of prospects.  He probably works for a team that is hedging their bets and looking to add depth and perhaps catch lightning in a bottle if he performs the way he did early last season.

The Giants, Royals, Pirates, and Mariners are looking for starting pitching depth and probably aren't looking to make a huge investment given their iffy situations for 2014.

Again, we shouldn't expect much in terms of a tangible return.

The IFA slots

Shop...but who's buying?

Honestly, I think these hold little value in the current environment.  With teams blowing past the limits, it's not like teams are looking to scrape money together to avoid penalties.  What's more, teams like the Yankees are scooping up everyone worth scraping money together for in the first place.

And everyone knows the Cubs can't spend $4M dollars worth of $250K slots, so they just don't have much leverage here.  At best this pool money might be a small pot sweetener in the right situation, but don't hold your breath for even those modest expectations.

In the end, don't expect the Cubs to do much except clear the decks for the 2015 offseason and set themselves up to make bigger moves before the season starts.  I expect the Cubs to hold on to Starlin Castro and all of their top prospects until they get a better idea of how the pieces will fit together.  There is no need to rush those kinds of deals unless somebody absolutely blows you away.

The Cubs made their last major move for 2014 on July 4th.  Whatever they do from here on out is prelude for next season.  It's about clearing roster space, payroll, and adding inventory for future deals.



Filed under: Rumors/Speculation


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  • Any chance the Cubs could get a competitive balance pick out of any of those players? Seems like that would be a best case scenario.

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    In reply to Ike03:

    That would be nice. Marlins virtually gave one away to the Pirates before the draft, but I think most clubs value them more than that, and certainly more than IFA slots. That Marlins trade for Bryan Morris was a head-scratcher to be sure

  • In reply to Ike03:

    i wouldnt give up on getting low level solid players in return. look at what we got for campana & hairston.

  • In reply to Ike03:

    The Competitive Balance Lottery (CBL) is held on the Monday following the Rule 4 (amateur) Draft signing deadline.That is this coming Monday. So their is definitely a chance, and considering that the Cubs Farm has plenty of depth at this point it would make a great deal of sense to package some trade assets for a CB pick.

  • In reply to Ghost Dawg:

    By the way, the signing deadline is tomorrow (Friday, 5 PM ET) for draft picks. We all know Aiken still hasn't signed with Houston, but also Sean Newcomb (15th overall) with the Angels, Erick Fedde (18th overall) & Andrew Suarez (second round) with the Nationals, and Trevor Megill (3rd round) with the Cardinals, are some other high picks that have until tomorrow to sign.

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    In reply to Ghost Dawg:

    Some of that may just be negotiating down to the wire, I haven't heard a ton on those guys, except I think I did read that Trevor Megill (3rd, Cards) will not sign, and is instead attending college.

    Are any others going back to school?

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    I feel like the primary purpose at this point is to clear roster space for younger players. We likely need to clear a position player for Alcantara, and trading Russell or Wright would clear a bullpen spot for someone deserving, like Rosscup or Rivero.

    To me, that's the main purpose, because I doubt we'll get a whole lot in return. Case and point, the return for Joe Thatcher and Jason Frasor was very both cases, non-top 30 organizational guys. And they are both decent relievers.

  • Keeping in mind that in Nov they will have to turn in their 40-man
    roster list, I say trade any veteran for a low end prospect with some
    potention that needs not to be protected on this list.

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    In reply to emartinezjr:

    40-man roster considerations are important. Looking ahead, Cubs are in pretty good shape though this offseason, we don't have a ton of guys that have to be added, and alot of expiring contracts, so I would not anticipate a crunch.

    The only slam-dunk add is CJ Edwards, with a couple maybes like Jokisch, Hernandez, McKirahan, and a bunch of guys too far from majors or too low ceiling. So we don't need a ton of slots ahead of the Rule 5 draft.

  • In reply to Zonk:

    I would add Rafael Lopez to that list, especially if the FO views him as a potential back-up (or 3rd) C for next year.

    Since you listed McKirahan, I will add Cervenka.

    One big question mark for me is Amaya. Should he be protected? I know he is only at Daytona and relatively far away. But he is a talent, and I could see another club grabbing him, if only to stash him on the bench next year.

  • In reply to CubsFanInNorway:

    Does Paniagua need to be protected?

  • In reply to Quedub:

    No, not according to Arizona Phil's website.

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    I think that has to be part of their plan. On a team that is about to be teeming with talent, roster space is valuable.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Roster space is valuable, but there are still slots being clogged up by duds (cough...BJax and Vitters) that can be freed up if need be. So I don't think the Cubs NEED to make a move to open up roster space. I think both of those guys will get one last look this September and be cut loose.

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    What ever happened to Marcelo Carreno?

  • In reply to Pooch7171:

    Shoulder surgery I think.

  • OT: CJ Edwards now says that he is up 170lbs.
    He is shooting for 175lbs - 180lbs by January camp 2015. He seems confident that he's found (with the help of LHP Ryan O'Malley) the proper way of adding good weight.
    Two questions that pop up for me :

    1) if he's gained 15lbs since joining the Cubs, which has been almost a year....if he can continue this pace, he could be around 185lbs -190lbs this time next year while possibly heading into AAA....6'2 190lbs with his talent seems scary...doesn't this smell like TOR pitcher ?

    2) can Theo sign Ryan O'Malley to a hefty personal services contract to follow CJ around for a few years ?! :)

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    In reply to biittnersmustache:

    CJ Edwards should hire me as a weight-gain coach. I can share a number of techniques and tricks that have been very successful for me personally, and I have the photos to prove it!

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    In reply to Zonk:

    I was thinking the same thing. "Why be satisfied with 15lbs?" Then I re-read his post and it included words like "proper" and "good weight" so I think my strategy would be a non-starter.

  • The only guys that might bring anything back are Strop and Russell. And as an added bonus, both happen to be expendable with MLB ready talent at AAA. Teams have shown a tendency to overpay for relievers in the past. I would push hard to deal both. I would also consider dealing Justin Grimm and Travis Wood. But those two have probably destroyed any value they had over the last month.

  • In reply to mjvz:

    Barney, Schierholtz, Sweeney, Villanueva should all be moved regardless of the return. Just get them off the books and off the 40 man roster. Fujikawa can be a post deadline deal if he comes back healthy. Jackson won't be movable until next deadline at the earliest unfortunately.

    Luis V and Ruggiano have more value as stopgaps/backups in the next couple of years than we would be able to get in return so keep those two. Wright is borderline to me, if you can get an actual prospect for him he can be moved, otherwise he falls in with Valbuena and Ruggiano.

  • In reply to mjvz:

    Villanueva and Schierholz are FAs at the end of the season, so they are off the 40-man by Nov., regardless.

  • In reply to CubsFanInNorway:

    Yes, but they cost a few million dollars in the meantime.

  • Gone are the days some dumb GM would trade a good starting pitcher prospect (Jon Garland) for a middle reliever (Matt Karchner) at the trade deadline. Oh wait, that was one of our dumb GM's. By the way I agree we keep Ruggiano and Wright. They have more value to us in the future than the junk we would receive.

  • In reply to Craig:

    Karchner was a former closer though!

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    In reply to Craig:

    Sean Marshall (LH RP) for Travis Wood...

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    Wonder if we could get Mark Appel for James Russell.

    Pretty much fair value at this point.

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    In reply to Mike Moody:

    Between Appel, Correa getting hurt, "Ground Control" leaks, and now Aiken/Nix, safe to say the Houston organization has had better months

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    In reply to Zonk:

    Kinda throws a monkey wrench into the whole anti-Theo "anybody can tank and build the minors that way" argument that some trolls like to throw out there.

  • John,

    Looks like Coghlan is a keeper then since you left him off completely? Do you see him being any more of than a 4th/5th outfielder type or could he play he way into a starting spot in 2015?

  • In reply to Hoosier Gus:

    He falls into the Ruggiano bracket of a guy that wouldn't bring anything of note in return so he has more value to the Cubs as a stopgap/backup option.

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    I have some friends over seas that would be eligible for IFA funds and would sign a 250K contract. I think I could even find 16 of them (to use up the $4M limit). Granted they would have to buy a glove and be shown which hand it goes on, but for $250,000 they would probably make the effort.

  • Fangraphs has been running an article rating players, if they were to made available via trade. They take into account things like contracts, WAR. They have 10-50 listed, and Rizzo came in at 12, ahead of Stanton at 15. Bryant came in at 29, the highest ranked prospect. It will be interesting to see if Castro cracks the top 10 tomorrow.

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    In reply to ejs1:

    Don't forget to look at the anti-trade value piece on Fangraphs. Sometimes train wrecks are more interesting. Takeaway on that one: Don't give big contracts to aging sluggers!

  • In reply to Zonk:

    It's interesting that GM's have all this data and they still can't help themselves,

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    In reply to ejs1:

    It is interesting. Not sure if message is sinking in; Tigers just gave a massive extension to Cabrera. We'll see when Nelson Cruz hits the market.

  • In reply to ejs1:

    Do you have a link? Sounds really interesting.

  • In reply to ejs1:

    I believe that it has been written that Castro didn't make that top 50 list. I wouldn't agree with that but I don't think you will see Castro's name on the top ten list.

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    Darwin Barney will net little in return, probably just salary relief as John says. Should we move along from Barney at this point?

    He brings value as a defender, and he sets a good example with work ethic. He's becoming a veteran leader and good clubhouse guy.

    He's also making $2.3 mil, and is getting a little expensive for a bench piece; I wonder if the Cubs would non-tender him anyway.

    If a non-tender is in his future, we should probably do Barney a solid, and basically give him away to a contender

  • In reply to Zonk:

    I agree with you here. If you do him a solid, fine. Otherwise keep him until the end of the year. What you said about his clubhouse presence is an underrated skill. Barney has been the one constant with Castro and Rizzo the last couple of years, and yeah, everyone knows it's a business, but it has to be hurt when you lose a friend. Another thing to remember, even with our SS depth, Barney is by far our best option for short if Castro were to miss any time.

  • In reply to Zonk:

    If he enjoys being in Chicago, he seems to have the type of personality where he would understand he's not worth what he's due to make and accept a deal lower than his arb rates to stay in town rather than be non-tendered and bounced around the league as DFA for the next few years.

  • In reply to Zonk:

    Agreed, do right by the good soldiers, within reason. Ex cubs seem to get rings.

  • I know his July numbers are unrealistic for Coglan, but being a left handed bat has to put him above Ruggiano. I hope he can finish strong. There is not many leftys available next year that are enticing in FA,
    It will be interesting to see how the FO views him in next years plans.

  • i do believe any trades that are made by the FO are going to either create space on the 40 man roster with an eye to the off season to make deals or trade 2 players (e.g - combo of barney, schireholtz, sweeney, russell, valbuena, villanueva) to get a better value prospect or a young MLB ready player that won't be a star, but a contributor to the team for the next couple of seasons. i thought the FO was going to trade J.S. or J.H. with other players to get prospects, but they did very well with a package for both of them. the FO knows there is not much left to trade for high end prospects and will continue to do what they can to help the major league club.

  • Great analysis as usual John. Like the breakdown of listen/shop. Most of the "shop" guys would draw very little interest, however, with the exception of Russell. I agree he makes sense for a decent trade, since the Cubs have similar guys waiting in the wings.

    But don't you think Bonifacio would generate good interest? He brings speed, a decent bat, and versatility to the table. Those traits have to be in demand for a team in the playoff race. And the Cubs don't have a lot of room for him, with Mendy playing so well and Coghlan and Ruggiano looking like decent players, too.

    They need to find a good taker for Emilio, methinks.

  • In reply to HefCA:

    He's not as valuable as you may think. He's basically a faster version of 2012 Darwin Barney, but not an elite defender. He also lacks a very good track record and will be coming off an injury when the trade deadline is nearing.

  • In reply to nmu’catsbball:

    He hits better than Dar Bar, as much as it pains me to say, because I really like how professional Barney is and hoped he could be an important piece on the team.

    He can play both OF and 2b/3b positions equally well also. He has value, the only pause in trading for him is whether he is healthy again.

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    In reply to HefCA:

    Plus he's a switch hitter. Seems like the art of switch hitting is becoming a lost art.

  • John, is there any way we can make this article a MUST READ for all Cubs fans? Maybe a prerequisite to comment? When you read comments on other sites, you'd think we could package all these guys for Giancarlo Stanton and David Price. It's kind of funny (and a bit sad). Moving these guys brings back nothing in the way of quality prospects, saves very little money, but most importantly, limits our options going into the off season. Some of these position players may be needed as 'placeholders' at the beginning of 2015.

    Well done.

  • Keith Law came out with his mid-season top 50 list.

    - Bryant (1)
    - Russel (4)
    - Baez (8)
    - Soler (28)

    He still says that there might be a makeup concern with Baez.

    Where does Keith Law keep getting his information from?!? I have never heard that Baez has makeup issues. I've heard the opposite actually.

  • I'd like to see if we could trade all of our IFA slots with an extra outfielder and a reliever for maybe a comp pick.

  • Chip Caray was on the Jonah Kerri podcast the other day and mentioned how the Braves are working with essentially a 24-man roster with an all but useless Dan Uggla taking up one spot. Uggla is owed what is left of his 13 million this year and then another 13 million next year. Couldn't the Cubs take on that contract and then D.F.A him? I assume that would be very valuable to the Braves, given that they are a mid-market team. The Braves also need a lefty reliever. Would the combination of Russel or Wright and taking Uggla off of their hands be worth a decent prospect?

  • In reply to Kensington:

    Eating 18M on top of the 18M or so they ended up eating for Soriano and the 3M or so on Veras. And with the chance they will have to eat 10M+ on EJax in the near future?

    Ricketts seems to give the FO a lot of latitude. But I would have to think there is a line somewhere.

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    In reply to Kensington:

    Mr. Madison, what you have just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.

  • Off topic, but any new rumors on the PTBNL we get for Shark and Hammel? Any chance it might by LHP Drew Pomeranz who just came off the DL with a broken LH and was sent back down to Sacramento because the A's now have TOO MUCH starting pitching?

  • In reply to DropThePuck:

    Seriously doubtful. The word John was getting was a rookie ball pitcher, name escaping me though. Keith Law also stated his sources told him the PTBNL would not add significant value to the deal.

  • In reply to mjvz:

    Dustin Driver was the name I heard.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    ***Major Snark Alert***
    Wow! How did our FO talk Beane out of this guy. There was no way I thought we could get Driver. Just look at his stat line.

    2013 line:
    7G, 11.1 IP, 11BB, 4K, 18H, 12R (only 9 earned), and only 18 years old in Rookie League.

    Then I thought maybe there was an injury or something but then I realized Beane was going to extreme lengths to hide this guy. Obviously hoping no one had noticed his lights out 0.36 K:BB ratio powered by his minuscule 8.7 BB/9 walk rate.

    Knowing that how could Law declare that this does not add value to the trade.
    ***End Major Snark Alert.***

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