With the loss last night, the Chicago Cubs are now 17 games below .500. Baseball Prospectus, which runs a playoff odds statistic, currently has the Cubs with a .1% chance of making the playoffs. Only the putrid Houston Astros, who have beat the Cubs in 4 of 6 games this season, have worse odds of making the playoffs at a clean 0%. I have covered on occasion how bad this Cubs team may be, but there is no use in beating a dead horse. It's time to move forward and take a look at potential trade partners for the Chicago Cubs with some of their talent on the roster. Listed below are some projected trades that either A) make sense for both sides, or B) are teams that are going to be looking to buy at the deadline.
Detroit Tigers - Ryan Dempster or Carlos Zambrano
The Detroit Tigers are currently in 2nd place in the A.L. Central, 1 game behind the Cleveland Indians. The Detroit Tigers will be looking for pitching. They are currently 5th in team OPS, SLG %, OBP, and 4th in team average. The Tigers have a good offense, however their starting pitching is where they have problems. The Tigers are 27th in team WHIP and 25th in batting average against. They may look to add starting pitching depth to a rotation that includes the electrifying Justin Verlander, and several other power arms in Max Scherzer and Rick Porcello.
Depending upon the amount of money the Chicago Cubs are willing to pick up, either Ryan Dempster or Carlos Zambrano could be possibilities for the Detroit Tigers. Ryan Dempster is signed through 2012. He is owed around 7 million dollars the rest of this season, and his full 14 million dollars next season. Dempster would be a sheer salary dump, as he would not net any high level prospects. However, it's still a deal that needs to be considered as it clears even more money off the books moving into 2012.
Carlos Zambrano on the other hand is a different story. Zambrano is owed nearly 9 million dollars the rest of this season, and a large 19 million dollar sum next season. The trouble is, the vesting option for 2013 that adds even more money to what Z is owed. Here is what could automatically vest the final year of Zambrano's contract:
Zambrano receives 2013 player option if 1) he is first or second in 2011 Cy Young vote or if he finishes in top 4 in 2012 Cy Young vote and 2) he is healthy at end of 2012
If healthy, Zambrano will be owed 19.25 million dollars in 2013. Z is going to be difficult to trade, however a desperate team may look at picking up Z if the Cubs are willing to eat some of his remaining contract.
San Francisco Giants - Geovany Soto
The Giants are 25th in the MLB in batting average and slugging percentage. The defending World Series Champions have ample pitching, but their anemic offense is becoming an issue. On top of that they lost their star catcher, Buster Posey the 2010 National League Rookie of the Year, to a season ending injury. The Giants will certainly be looking to add offense, and if the Cubs make Geovany Soto available they may look to make a deal for 2008 National League Rookie of the Year.
Soto has regressed some this season from his great year at the plate in 2010. Soto still has an OPS+ of 100, an OPS of .740, and is a 1.2 wins above replacement player. Soto would be an inexpensive payroll addition, as he is only owed around 1.5 million the rest of this season.
Geovany Soto would be a great pickup for the Giants. Soto is one of the few players I would prefer not be moved, as he could be a cheap option for the Cubs for several years to come. However, if prospects can be acquired then a deal should be explored.
Cleveland Indians - Kosuke Fukudome or Marlon Byrd
“We’re open in any way we can to improve the team, whatever that might be,” Antonetti said. “Especially with Choo suffering the injury that he suffered, we’ll probably focus most of our efforts on improving our offense and getting a little more consistency there.”
With an outfielder going down, and the uncertain health of Grady Sizemore in CF, the Cleveland Indians will be looking to add outfield depth that will help their offense. Kosuke Fukudome may be an option, depending upon the amount of his 6.5 million dollars remaining in 2011 the Chicago Cubs pick up. Fukudome can play RF and spell Sizemore at CF in a pinch.
Marlon Byrd may also be an option, however I feel his is less likely as he is signed through the 2012 season. The Indians may be looking just for an outfield option for the rest of the 2011 season and a run at the playoffs, and Kosuke Fukudome fits their needs nicely because of his versatility and expiring contract after the season.
Los Angeles Angels - Carlos Pena
The Angels offense this season has underachieved. They aren't hitting (.255 avg) or taking walks (26th in walks and 18th in OBP). The current Angels 1B, Mark Trumbo, is having a nice offensive year but the Angels may still look to add a player like Carlos Pena for a stretch run in the American League West.
Pena is due slightly less than 5 million dollars the rest of this season, and is an expiring contract. Jordan Garrettson at MLB.com has more.
There's been speculation that the Chicago Cubs will shop first baseman Carlos Pena, who might be a nice fit for the Halos. The 33-year-old has hit 17 home runs this season and would instantly add power to a lineup still wounded from the loss of Kendrys Morales. But after surveying the team's current look, slotting Pena to provide Los Angeles with a power upgrade might be counter-productive.
Rookie first baseman Mark Trumbo leads the team in homers (13), so the arrival of Pena would likely requiring a juggling act at that position. Moving either of the two to designated hitter would be unlikely, as veteran Bobby Abreu has filled the role reliably virtually every day since Vernon Wells returned from injury. Trumbo has played right field in small spurts, but nine-time Gold Glover Torii Hunter isn't leaving the outfield anytime soon. Move Hunter back to his previous spot in center, and rising star Peter Bourjos -- an equally adept defender -- is out of a spot.
Should be an interesting 3 weeks as we approach the MLB trade deadline on July 31st. The Chicago Cubs don't have many desirable trade pieces, but if they can pick up some prospects and trade expiring contracts like Carlos Pena and Kosuke Fukudome, they may be able to accelerate the "re-loading" process.