When possible, always deal from strength. There are players on the current roster that, if traded, would accomplish more in terms of salary savings and providing opportunities to let promising young guys play. If we could trade Marlon Byrd, for example, that would open up a starting role for Brett Jackson. If we could trade Alfonso Soriano, that would open up left field to, basically, anyone we could scrape up in our system that could hit major league pitching. One could put Bryan LaHair there and let Anthony Rizzo play first. Or one could put Junior Lake there. Or maybe Junior’s best friend – Starlin Castro. Anyway, getting rid of the Human Hamstring Pull would open up all sorts of versatility avenues on this roster. Sure, nobody would hit home runs, but also, nobody would hop when catching fly balls, either.
However, Byrd and Soriano are staying put – for now. It is not the right time, nobody out there is clamoring for outfielders on the downside of their careers.
But there are always some things that other teams need, like, for example: starting pitching; catching; and middle infielding/utilitizing! And, you know what?
Now, right now, and for the next week, the Chicago Cubs have SURPLUSES of all of the above.
Starting pitching: the #3 slot is Maholm’s. The #4 slot is Samardzija’s. The #5 slot, then, is between three deserving candidates: Volstad, Rodrigo Lopez, and Randy Wells. Now, out of these three, Volstad has pitched the best, and would make the worst long reliever, based on his size. Lopez would be an excellent choice to be the Long Man, both in terms of talent and temperament. So what do we do with Wells?
Catching: honest to blog, I am not a good enough judge of talent to tell you who from Clevenger and Castillo is better. Suffice to say that one is, but that both are certainly good enough to be in the majors.
Middle infielding: Jeff Baker is old, nobody wants him in a trade. Joe Mather deserves to be on a roster, even though he was a minor league free agent. So does Edgar Gonzalez, another minor league FA. So does Blake DeWitt, technically, another minor league FA. All of them can’t be on this roster, and in fact, if the manager feels like keeping last year’s mascot (Tony Campana) because he’s fast, then two of these guys won’t go north with us.
So, Wells, DeWitt, and either Clevenger/Castillo are, as of right now, major league quality players in a major league camp. Next week, they will be in a minor league camp, which lowers their value, because we will have tipped our hand about their worth vs. the guys who actually go north. So, before that happens, why not swing some trades for some higher-ceiling prospects? None of these guys will ever be stars; in fact, I’m not sure any of them will ever amount to anything. And I imagine if I don’t think so, neither will professional GMs and scouting staffs, far more expert at talent evaluation than I am.
I’m just saying that if we ever had the opportunity to turn Wells, DeWitt and Clevenger into blue-chip prospects, this next week would be the optimal time to do it.