Editor's Note: You've heard my various takes on potential trade possibilities, so here is a different one by reader David McKenzie. - John
A look at potential trade partners
by: David McKenzie (@dmcken22)
It’s that time of year again. What has been the most exciting month of the season for almost half of a decade now(July) will not disappoint this year. However, this trade season will ideally lead to a much more exciting August and September than July. If the last week has proven anything to the Chicago Cubs and it’s fans, it’s the fact that the Cubs are in need of one additional starter and one additional experienced everyday player. After culminating a 4-game win streak by beating BOTH Clayton Kershaw and Zach Greinke, the Cubs have dropped 5-straight against lesser pitchers. As we all know, the Cubs seem to be about a year ahead of schedule and this front office will not mortgage 2016-2020 for a run in 2015. With pitching, don’t expect a blockbuster unless the returning player is somewhat proven at the Major League level and has multiple years of control. When it comes to hitting don’t expect any Cargo(as has been rumored before) rumors, but expect a relatively low-cost acquisition that will not interfere with any prospects playing time in the future.
So with that, let’s take a look at some teams that may be a fit for the Cubs going into July, and some players that would make sense to see in Cubbie-blue come August for the stretch-run with a corresponding percentage breakdown of “Makes sense/ likelihood”.
- Oakland Athletics- Scott Kazmir, Ben Zobrist, and Josh Reddick
Admittedly, I go against the grain with the throw-in of Josh Reddick suggestion- so I’ll get to that.
First, we need the A’s to begin losing again. Since May 27th, the A’s are 16-11 and are now 9 games back from the incredibly talented, yet extremely inexperienced, Houston Astros. And if there is a team that knows just how quickly a 9 or 10+ game lead can disappear after the trade deadline, it’s the Oakland A’s. That being said, the A’s are always an active team and are needing to add to a minor league system that got hijacked by a certain team almost a year ago.
Scott Kazmir- This seems to be a great fit for the Cubs. Experienced, has worked with Joe Maddon before, and can add a left-hander not named Wood or Wada to step in ahead of Hendricks in the rotation immediately. Thus far this season, per fangraphs, Kazmir is sitting at 2.79 ERA with a FIP and XFIP of 3.39 and 3.67, respectively, good for 1.5 Wins Above Replacement thus far. In comparison, Wada and Wood have combined for .4 WARP per frangraphs. That additional win thus far is a big deal. More importantly, with Kazmir in his 30’s and on the last year of his contract, he wouldn’t cost as much as some of the more popular trade targets that may be available in terms of prospects. (As Always with Kazmir, health is a concern) 75%/30%
Ben Zobrist- Another player from teams of Joe Maddon past, Ben Zobrist fits the Cubs so perfectly, they tried to get him in the offseason. Of course, with the Tampa Bay Rays fruitlessly attempting to get compensation from the Cubs for “tampering”, it was no surprise that the teams didn’t work out a deal. However, the Rays did the Cubs one favor when they did finally move Zobrist. They traded him to the A’s where Theo’s friend and trade-partner of the past Billy Beane would manage his contract year.
Zobrist fits in almost every way. He has experience deep into the playoffs with the Tampa Bay Rays, he can hit from both sides of the plate, and he can play multiple positions. The Cubs could put him in left field tomorrow and immediately improve both their starting lineup and bench by having a very effective Chris Coghlan on-call when needed. Similar to Kazmir, Zobrist won’t be as expensive as he is in his mid-30’s and on a contract year- meaning the acquiring team will get no compensation for him. Zobrist started the year off both slow and injured, adding to the ability to acquire him for a potentially lower cost than other options. The last 2 weeks, however, Zobrist’s bat has come around hitting .421 with 3 homeruns.
Josh Reddick- A wildcard here, but if the A’s go into full sell-mode I’d love to see how Reddick’s bat plays in Wrigley for the next couple of years opposite corner of Soler. Furthering the case, Reddick won’t be cheap for a team like the A’s as he goes through his third time in arbitration this offseason. In 2012, Reddick hit over 30 homeruns and won a gold-glove. Thus far this season, Reddick is batting .287/.346/.467 with a wOBA of .354 and wRC+ of 130. He has a WARP of 1.9 thus far. Compared to Coglan, whom I have enjoyed and like, Reddick adds almost half a win so far and plays a significantly better leftfield. The fact that Reddick is arbitration eligible next year as well only helps to build the case on the Cubs side for making a move as he could play a significant role on a 2016 Cubs team more likely to contend for the top prize. It may be wishful thinking, but while Reddick+Kazmir will certainly cost more than Zobrist+Kazmir, the fact that he will have a fairly high arbitration number this coming offseason may make the A’s more apt to make a move as they did with Josh Donaldson this offseason, and I would think a potential top 50 prospect and 2-fringe top 100-150’s may get it done. With McKinney certainly getting consideration as a top 50 prospect when the mid-season ranking updates come out, I’d wonder if a package of McKinney, Vogelbach and Underwood wouldn’t entice Billy Beane considering the cost savings that deal would bring. We could also include either Coghlan or Denorfia as they could step into Reddick’s spot for the remainder of the year.
- Miami Marlins- Dan Haren
As stated in the comments section less than week ago, is there any way we can go back and accept the trade of Haren for Marmol? First of all, Haren would have to commit to playing for the Cubs after he considered retirement rather than pitching for a non-west coast team after being traded this past offseason. Dan Haren is an innings-eater who brings experience and his self-proclaimed 88mph fast ball.(follow him on twitter at ithrow88) The cost of Haren would be minimal as well, think along the lines of the Miguel Montero trade during the offseason in terms of prospects. Haren would be a choice the Cubs look at after exhausting options that would add a little more value to a potential playoff rotation, however wouldn’t be a horrible consolation prize considering the low-cost and experience added.
- Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim- CJ Wilson, Hector Santiago
Cj Wilson- Wilson is experienced, as he has started games in both the ALCS and the World Series, and crafty. However, CJ Wilson is also expensive monetarily, and has underperformed since signing a big contract with the Angels prior to the 2012 season. Per Fangraphs, this year Wilson has been stellar with a 3.92 ERA in the hitting-heavy American League with a 3.80 FIP and 3.84 xFIP, good for 1.3 WARP. Similar to Kazmir, he adds both experience and a left-handed starter that can come in right behind Hammel and immediately improve the rotation. Unlike Kazmir, the depleted minor league system of the Angels, mixed with their Phillies-esque type management team, will probably lead to the Angels asking far too much for the starter when factoring in both salary and prospects. Additionally, CJ Wilson’s contract not only doesn’t come off the books next year, but he is owed 20 million in 2016. Unless the Angels take a significant hit either on the prospect side or salary side, or both, I don’t see a fit with our regime.
Hector Santiago- Santiago is an Angels starter that may make a little more sense, however. Hector Santiago is both controllable and not elite enough to come at a high prospect cost. Concerning, however, is how he has out-pitched his peripherals thus far this season, and we have all seen how that can turn out with Travis Wood. Santiago has an ERA of 2.68 but has a FIP and xFIP of 4.40 and 4.51. Per fangraphs, he has been good for .7 wins this season, barely more than the Wada/Wood combo. However, he has been pitching in the AL and, again, would come at a much lesser prospect cost along with being controllable through arbitration until 2017, his age 28 season.
- Philadelphia Phillies-Cole Hamels
The often-discussed trade for Cole Hamels. He makes sense in a lot of ways. He is relatively inexpensive contract wise, his contract is up when our “kids” will begin to be expensive, left-handed, elite pitcher. However, the Cubs are not going to mortgage the farm for Cole Hamels and Ruben Amaro Jr doesn’t want one mortgage, he wants two. To swing a deal for Cole Hamels, the Phillies will undoubtedly ask for BOTH Schwarber and Baez + additional prospects, which is not going to happen. That being said, Hamels contract and skillset certainly fits the mold of “makes sense” for this Cubs team, even though the likelihood of the front office mortgaging the future for this season is next to none, and with good reason.
Needless to say there are other teams with players that would fit if the teams make them available at a reasonable cost, such as the Mets and Mariners. However, when looking through some realistic options heading into a July that finds the Cubs thinking more than asset-allocation, it’s fun to look at a few players that may make sense for the Cubs as they try to make it back to the playoffs for the first time since 2008.
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