Changes Appear on the Horizon for the Cubs

If anything, the next 18 days leading up to the non-waiver trade deadline on July 31 should be anything but boring for the Chicago Cubs. Both the active roster and 40-man roster figure to be quite a bit different when the team takes the field on August 1 in Pittsburgh than the team that opens the second half of the baseball season Friday afternoon at Wrigley. Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer are reportedly listening to offers on just about every player on their roster.

Players such as Ryan Dempster and Matt Garza can help teams win games down the stretch and in turn help the Cubs add pieces to an organization that is in talent acquisition mode.

Ryan Dempster
Ryan Dempster could be spending his last weekend in a Cubs’ uniform at Wrigley Field. Dempster is garnering a lot of attention and rightfully so. Dempster is in the middle of one of the best stretches of his career and has a favorable contract that runs out at the end of the season. Dempster is viewed as a rental and one that could net the Cubs a nice return.

Many feel Dempster will help a contender and there are varying opinions of what he is worth on the trade market. Under the new CBA the team that lands Dempster cannot offer salary arbitration to him after the season and receive draft pick compensation in return. Some think the Cubs could land a top 10 prospect for Dempster while others feel the Cubs could hold out for a Carlos Beltran-for-Zack Wheeler type deal. The Dodgers are seen as the frontrunner for Dempster but the question is can the Dodgers send enough back to the Cubs for Dempster?

According to George Ofman, two Dodgers’ pitching prospects could entice the Cubs to trade Dempster to Los Angeles … Chris Withrow and Garret Gould.

Garrett Gould was in the discussions between the Dodgers and Astros for Carlos Lee. Gould (6-foot-4, 190-pound right hander) was the Dodgers’ second round pick in the 2009 draft. The soon-to-be 21-year old (July 19, 1991) is 3-6 this season with a 4.61 ERA and a 1.38 WHIP in 17 games, 14 starts. Baseball America ranked Gould as the sixth best prospect in the Dodgers’ season prior to the season. Gould throws a low to mid 90s sinking fastball that sits in the 92-93 mph range along with a curveball with a sharp three-quarters break which comes in at 79-83 mph. Gould’s curve is considered his best pitch and the right-hander also throws a changeup that is considered to be a solid third pitch. Garrett Gould has walked 32 and struck out 80 while allowing 84 hits in 84 innings this season at the High-A level (Rancho Cucamonga).

Chris Withrow (6-foot-4, 220-pound right hander) was the Dodgers first round pick in the 2007 draft. Withrow posted a 6-6 record with a 4.20 ERA and a 1.45 WHIP in 25 starts last season at the Double-A level. Baseball America ranked Withrow the seventh best prospect in the Dodgers’ system prior to the season.

Withrow has pitched in 12 games, seven starts, at the Double-A level this season (third year at the Double-A level). The 23-year old (April 1, 1989) is still struggling throwing strikes. In 46 2/3 innings this year, Withrow has walked 28 batters with only 50 strikeouts (5.40 ERA and a 1.54 WHIP). Withrow has a big arm (fastball that sits in the mid-90s and can hit 98) and he knows it. Zach Lee (20-year old right hander) is considered as the best pitching prospect in the Dodgers system.

Other teams that are rumored to be interested in Ryan Dempster include: the Braves, White Sox, Rangers and Indians … with the Indians, Rangers and Braves being the teams that could offer the most for him.

Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer are looking for a good return for Dempster … now they just have to find a team that he is willing to be dealt to that has the right pieces to help the Cubs.

Matt Garza
Add the Dodgers to the list of teams that could be players for Matt Garza but many feel Magic Johnson’s team does not have enough to offer the Cubs in return. Garza is seen one of the more valuable starting pitchers on the market because of his extra year of control. While pitchers such as Cole Hamels and Zack Greinke might have more immediate impact, due to their impeding free agency they might not end up costing as much (in terms of blue-chip prospects) as Matt Garza.

David Price would like to see his former teammate back in the AL East, and three of the five teams have regularly been connected to Garza in the rumor mill … the Red Sox, Yankees and Blue Jays. The Orioles have been mentioned as a possibility as well but like the Dodgers, Baltimore is not thought to have enough to offer for Garza. According to reports, the Orioles are not willing to move either Dylan Bundy or Manny Machado in any deal and Jayson Stark reported that Baltimore has moved away from Matt Garza.

Atlanta, Detroit, St. Louis, Texas and Kansas City are among the other teams rumored to be interested in trading for Matt Garza … and a deal for Garza could come down to the end (July 31) due to the Cubs’ asking price.

More Rumors
According to Jayson Stark, executives from two teams Stark spoke with indicated the Cubs have mentioned Bryan LaHair’s name regularly in trade talks.

Bryan LaHair, along with Alfonso Soriano, Paul Maholm, Darwin Barney, Reed Johnson and Jeff Baker could be traded prior to the deadline and teams are rumored to be interested in each one of those players. Rumors have also suggested that the Cubs would like to move Geovany Soto and Carlos Marmol. Soto is underperforming but can still get a hold of one from time to time then there is Carlos Marmol.

Marmol showed signs of being a little more effective prior to the walking the bases loaded in New York. The Cubs still owe Marmol a ton of money (about $3.5 million remains on Marmol’s $7 million contract for this season plus $9.8 million for 2013).

The Tigers are rumored to be interested in Darwin Barney … but according to Ken Rosenthal, Detroit cannot find a second baseman they like and are now focused on adding pitching.

News and Notes
The deadline for signing picks from last month’s draft is 4:00pm CDT on Friday afternoon. With Albert Almora and their top 20 picks signed, the Cubs are likely done with signing draft picks from this year’s class.

The Cubs broke ground on their new Spring Training home Wednesday … and Tim Sheridan was on hand for the event.

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