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.

Follow ChicagoCubsOnline on Twitter: @TheCCO

Quote of the Day

"Failure seldom stops you. What stops you is the fear of failure." – W.J. Slim

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  • triple

    Maybe I’m a little cynical, but I don’t really care who we get for any of the guys that the Cubs are trading. I’m sure they will be better than all the busts we’ve drafted and “developed” in our minor league system over the last 25 years. Seriously… who is the best pitcher the Cubs had come through their system since Greg Maddux? Or best hitter since Gracie? or Ryno (who really doesn’t count because Dallas Green brought him over from Philly, just like Rizzo doesn’t count as homegrown). I guess Castro probably is our best homegrown position player since. What pitcher gets that title? Wood or Zambrano? Is there someone I’m missing? Maybe someone we foolishly traded away?

    • Zonk

      This is why Theo and Co. are committed to building through the farm system. Until a couple of the recent Wilkens drafts, our farm system has been a train wreck. It actually did improve under Hendry, which I give him credit for, but it was easy given the absolutely wretched track record.
      The difficulty of course is that building through the farm system takes TIME, and this will test the patience of Cub fans. But it’s the right course of action.
      Between Mark Grace in 1988 and Corey Patterson in 2004, almost 20 years went by without a Cubs drafted position player debuting in the majors, and going on to be a regular starter. (Well, Doug Glanville sort of).

      • Sanibelchuck

        With the possibility of the Washington Nationals moving to Fort Myers in 2014; the Cubs missed the opportunity to be in Naples. In 2014 three teams will be training in Fort Myers: Washington Nationals, Boston Red Sox, and Minnesota Twins. And less than 40 miles away in Port Charlotte are the Tampa Rays.

        • Ripsnorter1


      • Tom Olson

        I don’t even think, at this time, you can count the recent Wilken drafts. The jury is still out on those, because high ceiling talent and prospects are just that until they prove it in The Show.

        • DWalker

          I think you can count them, not from individual player development, but from the shift in the types of prospects they selected. No matter how good your scouts and plan is, most prospects will strike out. But drafting the better types of prospects over the hayden simpson’s in the first round will show results over the long term.

          • paulcatanese

            You are correct, it will take time, a long,long, long, time.
            And trading away who they are hoping to trade will mean more money spent trying to get teams to accept what the Cubs have to offer.
            Ironic isn’t it? It costs money to sign a player,
            more money to keep a player, and then again more money to have someone take him off their hands. Great way to run a business.
            It’s obvious that draft choices are suspect until they prove differently, and their are only so many out their who will make the grade.
            Their are just too many holes to fill in a short amount of time(2-3 years), and after trading players that gave a few wins here and there, hold on, its going to be a long ride.
            The odds are that it will take more than two or three years before they are truly competitive,

          • paulcatanese

            I would add that it’s right to re-construct the whole system,and did not mean my answer to be a negative one, just telling it in a straight forward, logical manner.
            The Cubs also need a new facility, one that will provide ample space for additional hitting,
            locker rooms with a weight room, and anything else,as they are at the bottom of the heap with any of those requirements.

          • Ripsnorter1

            Meanwhile, EVERY COMPETITIVE ORGANIZATION OUT THERE is rebuilding AND fielding a competitive team at the very same time. The Yanks rebuild every single year. Red Sox do the same. Texas, et al.

            My point: Team Theo is making the Cubs’ fans suffer unnecessarily, and the end result is by no means guaranteed to produce a winner.

      • cubs1967

        jerome walton was ROY. dwight smith was pretty good too in 1989. rick wilkiins had 30 homers. kerry wood was ROY. mark prior had a cy young season. big Z before he became truly pyscho was pretty good for the 2003-2007-2008 teams. cashner produced rizzo. marshall produced t wood. castro. barney. smardzjia. soto had a good rookie year. palmeiro was pretty good; roids or not. hendry made it better. tribune did not let him spend on the draft till later years. it’s not as been as you make it out.

        • triple

          Well you mentioned a lot of “one and done” type guys. Palmeiro is one I did forget about, but that goes back to when we did produce players (even count Shawon Dunston). But the Cubs have not produced any everyday position players. Okay, so Barney, Theriot, and Fontenot are decent, but not really all-star caliber players. And Theriot and Fontenot aren’t even being used everday by their teams now. Cashner will never have any sort of career with his injury problems. I think Chris Archer will have a good career with the Rays. And “trading talent for” is not the same as “developing talent.” Prior was almost useless after his rookie year when he was rushed to the big leagues and wrecked. They didn’t develop him, they just threw him to the wolves. I guess Marshall and Marmol were/are okay and count. Now compare that to the late 90’s Yankees: Jeter, Bernie Williams, Rivera, Pettite, and Posada. At least 2, if not 3 (maybe Posada) of them become hall of famers.

          I will admit, JH did start to turn it around here, but Castro is still the only all-star talent he is responsible for. There may be a couple more in the system who also have staying power, but we are still yet to see. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see. I just hope Theo & Co. give some of the inherited prospects a good chance and aren’t to stubborn and only want to promote their own guys.

          • J Daniel

            Fontenot was in the Sosa deal

          • Laugh Hammer

            I think Barney’s best baseball is in front of him, he is showing to have GREAT range at 2nd, making very athletic plays, and his bat isn’t too shabby.

    • Craig York

      Your missing Prior. Sure he was injury plagued and never got to have the career that we all envishioned, but he was an outstanding pitcher. Brought through our system, and sadly injuries ruined his career.

  • Zonk

    There is an excellent article on Fangraphs assessing Ryan Dempster, and asking the question: Has he really improved that much this season, or is he just lucky?
    Short Answer: Mostly lucky, though he is mixing a cutter in more and keeping the ball in the yard much more. But he is basically the same guy as the last 3-4 years.

    • cubtex

      No doubt. He took advantage of some poor hitting days especially in April and May. Not to take anything away from his big first half……but I would be shocked if he pitches lights out in the second half. Cubs need to capitalize and pick up a top pitching prospect for him now.

      • Laugh Hammer

        But Dempster’s last 33 scoreless innings weren’t in April and May!

  • Tom U

    Congratulations to Nick Struck. The Tennessee right hander became the first organizational pitcher to win 10 games.

    • cubtex

      He is having a nice year. I guess the extra weight has done him some good :)

  • DWalker

    I have a feeling Soriano will not be going anywhere by the deadline. After a horribile start, he’s contending as the teams MVP but its still going to be hard to find takers with 2.5 years left on his contract, even with the cubs eating the cost. With as big of a cost as it is to eat the contract, his improved defense, his bat and his clubhouse presence, theres actually an argument to keep him on for the rest of the year IF there are no good offers. I was all for DFA’ing him early this year and eating the contract as a sunk cost, in fact i entirely expected he was going to be a failed rehab project, but he pulled himself out of it. Its become pretty clear that even next year, there isn’t going to be a glut of star OF’s coming up from the minors to crowd the outfield so even next year he could still be with the team ( I expect we’l have another frustrating first month as well). If he is still healthy, he’s going to be a lot easier to move with a year less time on the contract and eating that contract will not be nearly so ugly. I’d like to see him traded still for something decent, but I just don’t think they will get good enough offers on him except maybe as a package that will be worth taking vs what he what he can still contribute considering the cost of trading him.

  • gocubs

    Niel, whats up with Brett Jackson? Every so often Ill see a tweet like

    Vitters: 2-for-4,2B,RBI,BB,R; B.Jackson:
    1-for-2,RBI,3BB,2R,SB,K; Castillo: 2-for-5,HR,3RBI,2R; Volstad:
    7R,5ER,6H,2IP -Iowa won 12-11 #Cubs about 12 hours ago

    but other than that, its like we have completely stopped hearing about Jackson. He went from being our top prospect, to pretty much not even being mentioned really in prospect updates. Do you think he will still be called up this year? After spring training everyone was saying he was such a complete package and only had some small things to work out before his inevitable call-up.

    • gocubs

      oops – mean Neil….not “Niel.”

    • Neil

      I would not worry about Jackson. Yes he is struggling this season with the strikeouts but he is doing good things. Keep in mind he does not turn 24 until August 2 and this is just his third full season of pro ball.

      A September callup is still possible. It might be better for him to take September off and play in the AFL this fall. The Cubs can wait to the off-season to add him to the 40-man.

  • John_CC

    I have a hard time believing Epstein and Hoyer covet these Dodger pitchers. Gould is 21 years old in High A and sporting a an ERA over 4 and half. Withrow is in his third season at AA and sounds too much like most of the Cubs present AA pitchers, McNutt et al.

  • Mike Simala

    Yeah I dont think these are ones to Covet at all. Gould as the player received back if we send Lahair there would make sense to me. But neither of those guys should be the centerpiece of a deal for Demp.

  • Ripsnorter1


    Jeff Stevens and John Gaub. Not MLB pitchers.