According to a report from Bruce Levine, Jim Hendry and Randy Bush will hold meetings Monday and Tuesday with the top scouts in the organization “about the direction of the team with the trading deadline just five weeks away.”
The Cubs hold these meetings annually but with the poor play on the field these meetings could have a little more importance. According to Levine, “the game plan will include going after top prospects and young players from other teams.”
The Cubs have only a few realistic trading chips due to large contracts, no-trade clauses and 5-and-10 rights.
The Cubs have several big contracts coming off the books as the end of the season.
Kosuke Fukudome (owed around $7 million of his $13.5 million contract for 2011), John Grabow (owed around $2.5 million of his $4.8 million contract for 2011) and Carlos Pena (receives $5 million in January of 2012 as a part of $10 million contract he signed last December) might be the most attractive to a contending club. According to a report from the Sun-Times, Fukudome is “beginning to attract feeler interest from potential contenders looking for help at the top of the order and in the outfield. Fukudome has no-trade rights and can veto a trade to a handful of teams.
Aramis Ramirez has a full no trade clause in his contract (earned 5-and-10 rights since signing his contract in 2006) and recently said he will not waive his no-trade clause. The Cubs have a club option on Ramirez for 2012 worth $16 million. The club option includes a $2 million buyout and $1 million bonus if Ramirez waives his no-trade clause.
Ryan Dempster has a player option for 2012 worth $14 million. With the way he’s pitched this season many feel Dempster will pick up his option and not test the free agent market. The Cubs also owe Dempster $1 million in 2012 and 2013 in deferred salary from 2009 (Dempster agreed to defer $3 million of his 2009 contract in order to clear payroll for the Cubs to sign Xavier Nady). Dempster has earned 5-and-10 rights and those in the know feel that if Dempster was willing to waive his trade rights that Jim Hendry would not try to deal him.
Several mainstream media outlets have speculated the Yankees could have interest in both Ryan Dempster and Carlos Zambrano but Jon Heyman shot those rumors down earlier in the week.
For the second year in a row, Zambrano said that if the Cubs approached him about a trade he would waive his no trade clause. Zambrano has said repeatedly over the past two-plus seasons that he wants to finish his career with the Cubs.
The elephant in the room is Alfonso Soriano. Soriano is owed $18 million per season over the last three full years of his contract (around $9 million remains for this season). Soriano will not be a free agent until after the 2014 season. The amount owed to Soriano, along with the declining play, makes it highly unlikely that Jim Hendry would be able to work a trade for Soriano … that is unless the Ricketts family is willing to eat a majority of his contract. Soriano recently said he would not stand in the Cubs way if they try to trade him.
The player with the biggest buzz right now is Kerry Wood. Several teams are rumored to have interest in the former Kid K, but Wood has a no-trade clause and did not want to leave the Cubs the first time.
The best (and most realistic) trade chip the Cubs might have is on the DL. Marlon Byrd (owed the remainder of $5.5 million for this season and $6.5 million in 2012) could really benefit a contender looking for a fourth outfielder … and a good right-handed bat to use in a platoon. Byrd is expected to begin his rehab assignment in Triple-A on Monday and is hoping to return to the Cubs lineup on July 4.
For more than one reason it would be great to see Marlon Byrd pick up where he left off prior to May 21.
Stay tuned … its rumor season within the baseball season.
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