When play resumes on Thursday, the Cubs will have 70 games remaining on their 2011 schedule and Jim Hendry will have several decisions to make that could impact this organization for several years.
The July 31 non-waiver trade deadline is 19 days away and the overpaid, underachieving roster that Hendry assembled should have a different look come August 1. But in reality the changes that could be made all depends on the direction the Cubs want to take moving forward. The Cubs GM has already said there will not be a fire sale and they will only make trades that they feel will help them moving forward. The Cubs are rumored to be looking at adding as much pitching as possible … of course, if the right deal comes their way.
Many figure players such as Kosuke Fukudome, John Grabow, Reed Johnson and Carlos Pena could be traded … and reportedly the Cubs have been asked about players such as Sean Marshall, Kerry Wood, Aramis Ramirez and Alfonso Soriano.
With all of baseball focused on the 82nd Mid-Summer Classic … here’s what has been happening in the rumor mill.
The Cubs hold a $16 million option on Aramis Ramirez for the 2012 season that includes a $2 million buyout. Before Ramirez started hitting again, there was no doubt that the Cubs would pay the buyout and move on at the end of the season … but things have changed.
Not only is Ramirez hitting (and fielding) again but the players in the system that figure to take over for Ramirez are not progressing the way the Cubs had hoped. To put it simply, it could be Ramirez at third next season or a platoon … think along the lines of a Jeff Baker and a Blake DeWitt sharing time at the hot corner.
Ramirez recently told the Sun-Times that he and Hendry have not addressed his status for next year and likely will not until after the season. Ramirez also has not thought about renegotiating his over-market $16 million deal into maybe a two-year deal that is a little more affordable for the Cubs.
The Tribune reported that the decision to keep Ramirez or not might not be up to Hendry and the Cubs are likely to exercise the $2 million buyout. But like the Sun-Times, the Tribune left open the possibility of the Cubs bringing back Ramirez at a lower price.
Hendry said Friday that he would not open talks with Ramirez anytime soon.
According to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe, the Angels appear to be the team with most interest in trading for Aramis Ramirez. The Mariners could also be interested … along with the Giants, Braves and possibly the Diamondbacks.
Could the Yankees Come Calling?
According to a report from Bruce Levine, the Yankees had three scouts watching the Nationals and the Cubs last week. New York is looking for bullpen help as well as a bat or two.
Levine reported, “it appears the Yankees may have some interest in Cubs left-handed reliever John Grabow” as well as both Aramis Ramirez and Alfonso Soriano.
The recent injury (and surgery) to Alex Rodriguez may open up a spot for a player like Aramis Ramirez and/or the Yankees could choose to trade for Alfonso Soriano to use as their designated hitter.
If the Yankees decide to bring back Soriano for a second tour of duty in the Bronx, “the Cubs would likely step up and share a good portion of that contract obligation if they found an interested party.” According to Levine, Soriano would likely jump at the chance to return to the Yankees.
More from the Rumor Mill
Jon Paul Morosi tweeted Sunday that Reed Johnson would be a good complimentary player for a contender and will have value on the market.
During the fifth inning of Sunday’s game in Pittsburgh, Judd Sirott mentioned that Marlon Byrd is the type of player the Pirates are looking to add. Sirott explained that the Pirates are not looking to rent a player for a couple of months and the fact Byrd is under contract for 2012 ($6.5 million) makes him appealing to Pittsburgh.
If the Cubs decide to listen to offers for Matt Garza, the Yankees and Red Sox could have interest according to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe.
According to a report from CSNNE, there is nothing to the Matt Garza trade rumors … the Cubs are not looking to trade a starting pitcher.
Stay tuned … it should be an interesting two and a half weeks.
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