Checking On the Cubs Rumor Mill at the All-Star Break

While the front office has already dealt its two biggest trade chips of the summer, there are several players on the Cubs big league roster that teams are believed to have interest in.

Teams have recently scouted LHP James Russell and LHP Wesley Wright. The Royals and Blue Jays have been connected to Carlos Villanueva. Luis Valbuena is believed to be on Oakland’s radar. The Royals are reportedly interested in reunion with a rehabbing Emilio Bonifacio. And Justin Ruggiano and Chris Coghlan are being viewed as possible options for teams.

Plus, the New York media is convinced the Cubs front office is willing to trade a shortstop.

Emilio Bonifacio

According to a report from Bruce Levine, Emilio Bonifacio is “coveted by numerous teams” including the Kansas City Royals, the team that let him walk in the spring and that is paying some of his contract, and Blue Jays. Levine also mentioned the Reds as a possibility for Bonifacio with Brandon Phillips on the DL.

PrintBonifacio is rehabbing a right oblique strain in Arizona that has sidelined him since June 13. The Cubs have not given a timeframe on when Bonifacio should be ready to re-join the team.

As of this writing, Emilio Bonifacio had played in two games for the AZL Cubs and was 3-for-6 with a walk, a strikeout and a stolen base.

Justin Ruggiano and Cubs Outfielders

The Royals are looking for a right-handed hitting outfielder and have shown interest in Justin Ruggiano according to Bruce Levine. Kansas City could be looking at a package deal with the Cubs for Ruggiano that would include Carlos Villanueva. Jerry Crasnick reported Monday that Jonny Gomes is also on the Royals’ radar.

The Mariners would also like to add a right-handed hitting outfielder and are looking at other options if they cannot trade for Marlon Byrd. Justin Ruggiano and Junior Lake are believed to be on their list, along with Josh Willingham, Alex Rios and Dayan Viciedo. Seattle might not be the only team looking at Junior Lake. According to Jon Heyman, other teams have scouted Lake and view him as a possible change-of scenery candidate.

And Jon Heyman reported Monday, that Cubs could receive interest in the hot-hitting Chris Coghlan. Coghlan is 20-for-46 over his last 13 games with eight doubles and three home runs (.435/.509/.804/1.313) and has his line up to .275/.355/.477 in 58 games this season with 11 doubles, two triples, five home runs and a .832 OPS. Coghlan began the year in the minors. Fredi Gonzalez, Coghlan’s manager in Florida five years ago, said last weekend that what he is seeing from Coghlan lately is very similar to the player that was the NL Rookie of the Year in 2009.

Cubs Shortstops

Within 10 minutes of the trade between the Cubs and Athletics being confirmed, the National and New York media jumped on the fact the Cubs have three, very good young shortstops in the organization, and the Cubs would match up with the pitching-rich New York Mets on a trade.

Theo Epstein is on record saying the Cubs are not looking to trade any of the three shortstops right now, but the New York media is convinced that Starlin Castro, Javier Baez or Addison Russell is available.

Adam Rubin reported Monday the Mets are looking to upgrade at shortstop from Ruben Tejada and the Cubs “have a glut of young shortstops.” The Cubs “may ultimately deal Starlin Castro” for that reason but Javier Baez “is believed to be a more realistic target for the Mets.”

Adam Rubin did not speculate on which pitchers the Mets would have to give up when he speculated Javier Baez could be acquired.

Considering many feel Baez and Russell could ultimately move off shortstop and Kris Bryant will be a corner outfielder, what motivation would the Cubs have this season to move a 24-year old shortstop that already has a 200-hit season under his belt at the Major League level and is now driving the baseball instead of just collecting hits?

Other Cubs Rumors

Frank Wren is looking for a lefty to add to the Braves bullpen. According to Jim Bowden, Wren is interested in James Russell. The Braves scouted James Russell and Wesley Wright prior to the series at Wrigley Field. Russell pitched two innings against the Braves on Saturday and was very good while Wright faced only one batter during the three games with Atlanta.

The Blue Jays remain interested in Darwin Barney according to Bruce Levine.

David Price added a little fuel to the possibility of him signing with the Cubs when he hits free agency after the 2015 season. During media day for the All-Star Game, Price was asked a hypothetical question about the possibly of joining the Cubs. Price’s response, “That would probably be the coolest city to win a championship.” Price was asked about the trade rumors and admitted he is not sure where he will be on July 31. Price said “he has a few teams in mind, but he wouldn’t divulge” which ones according to a report from Barry Bloom.

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  • Tony_H

    It would be amazing if the Cubs could trade all of these players. I would prefer Russell, Villanueva, Bonifacio to be the ones traded (plus Schierholtz and Sweeney) and keep Wright, Valbuena, Ruggiano and Coghlan for next year. I don’t trade Lake, I would use him against LH’s the rest of the way unless enough OF’s are traded where he can play everyday. Then have him spend 2015 in AAA to see if he can improve his contact rate.

    • GaryLeeT

      I agree with keeping Wright. I was just looking at his stats when you posted. Only 1 of 14 inherited runner scored in his last 19 appearances.

    • Patrick_Schaefer

      Ruggiano is a sell high candidate, we kept Schierholtz last year and that worked out badly. Ruggiano is older and not in the teams future. Coghlan is younger at 29 and we don’t really have any Left-handed bats coming soon unless Schwarber is here next year. Valbuena again Left-handed bat although we have plenty of 2nd and 3b options 28 now and a solid veteran presence with solid defense and one of few guys who can pinch hit on this team and unless the right offer is made I’d keep him.
      Schierholtz see you later won’t get anything for him if you get salary relief it’s a win. Bye bye Bonifacio. ..
      Russell and Wright-non loogy Left-handed relievers are valuable and we need to keep at least one of them. Agreed keep Wright and if they can’t get enough for Russell why trade him. By Sweeney if anyone wants him.

      • Patrick_Schaefer

        Oh and bye to Barney gonna miss his defense but not his bat. There was a play the other day that Rizzo dived for and missed and Alcantara could have gotten if he dove and didn’t the Braves kept on scoring on Wood after that.

      • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

        Agree with your assessment of Ruggiano and Coghlan. At his age a Schierholtz like dive wouldn’t surprise. But if he stays at least were more compettive now. And I like Coghlan as a holdover to stay until prospects are ready.

  • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

    Cool comment by Price! You never know.

    I don’t see a trade of one of our SS now. I think they will want to wait until we’ve evaluated the prospects a little more. And I don’t think they will get pitching until they are ready to win and there are several of the hitting prospects in Chicago. Also I think there is a good chance we do get Price, Lester o another top guy in FAA. Whoever we get, I think Theo wants to hedge his bets againt some of the arm injuries young pitcher are having.

    • Tom U

      I would be mildly surprised if all three were with the club at the beginning of the 2015 spring training.

      • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

        You think one of then goes for pitching? Or a package for an outfielder or another player. Maybe Stanton ;). One can hope?

        Who does your gut tell you goes of the 3?

        • Tom U

          Baez

          • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

            Thanks for taking time time to answer and as always for all of your great reporting.

  • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

    Ruggiano and Villanueva to the Royals would be good for us. We should be able to pull a decent, low-level prospect for them. Ruggiano is almost up to .300 and, well, I don’t really have anything nice to say about Villanueva. He’s got a cool mustache? And as long as he doesn’t start he shouldn’t hurt them.

    • Patrick_Schaefer

      Love the comment on Villanueva I got a good laugh out of it, my wife asked what I was laughing at and I told her and she got a good laugh too.

    • Richard Hood

      You obviously are not watching the same Villanueva that I am. As a reliever he has a 3.45 ERA (which aint good) but you take out July where he spot started and was used like 4 times in 6 games around it those number go down to 2.35. He is horrible as a starter and that has messed with many peoples perception of how productive he has been. There is a reason that there are a lot of eyes looking at him.
      Now Ruggiano is a different conversation. I am totally onboard of sending him and his 2 option years packing because his numbers are fueled by a BAbip of .383 which means there is probably a luck factor that is going to swing the other way. I think if we add a prospect to the mix and see what we can get from KC we might be talking about their Comp pick and a low level high upside prospect. Not a bad deal for a couple of pieces that may or maynot have a future with the club.

      • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

        You’re actually right Richard. He’s been effective in relief. I guess the disasters that seem to always occur when he starts color my memory.

      • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

        And I don’t have any problem with the Cubs doing everything the need to do to get some prospects back for Ruggiano, Bonifacio and others. If Alcantara has to go to Iowa for a week then so be it. Prospects are a crap shoot and some low level guys always help with depth and give us more chances. I’ll take every single prospect we can get our hands on. You just never know.

  • Tony_H

    Astros and Aiken having issues on a deal….

    http://msn.foxsports.com/mlb/story/casey-close-calls-foul-on-astros-and-mlb-in-negotiations-with-no-1-draft-pick-brady-aiken-071414

    We are so use to a FO that makes the planning and execution of the draft look so easy, that we forget that it is not as easy as it looks.

    • DWalker

      sounds like the Astros tried to do what Theo and a few other GM’s routinly do but managed to screw the pooch on the deal.

      • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

        True. Regardless of how anyone feels about their plans or strategy. You can’t argue with their tactics and execution. Which comes with experience.

  • Ripsnorter1

    I do not believe any GM in MLB is coveting Bonifacio.

    • triple

      You are right about that, but when it comes down the last couple days of July and GMs haven’t gotten the guy they hoped for, he may probably be an acceptable substitute.

      Rip- Off topic, but I was wondering about your thoughts on the Bulls and not being able to sign Melo, and their plan B and how it’s looking for next year?

      • Ripsnorter1

        Bulls: I dunno what to think just yet, other than it was a crushing disappointment that they lost out on Carmelo Anthony. They made a golden offer to him, but apparently money isn’t everything.

        Right now I think three things: 1.) Tom Thibodeau will get the most out of what he has, and 2.) they’ll make the playoffs, no matter how long Derrick Rose stays on the floor. And 3) a championship is out of the question without another superstar. Not enough horses at this time.

        • SuzyS

          Rip, The Bulls offer was $ 60 million short of New York’s.
          Could you leave $60 mil on the table?

        • triple

          Honestly, I had mixed feelings about their attempt to woo Carmelo Anthony. He does take plays off and kind of checks out if he isn’t getting his way, but he also gave them a much better chance than any other option, unless of course LeBron was an option, which he didn’t seem to be.

          You are right, Thibs will get the most out of what he has, and I am looking forward to seeing what he can get out of McDermott and Mirotic. I’m even more interested in seeing if Butler can take another good step forward, and if Snell can as well, so there might be new and improved options from the past. I like Pau Gasol, but he is really only a slight upgrade from what we had in Boozer, and a hair better at defense, but not much. I am partly wondering if they should have just stuck it out with Boozer and just replace him next year when there may be better younger options.

          That said, there are no guarantees, and I’m really disappointed in Forman and Paxson (even though I really like them) in failing again to bring in the necessary talent between what happened 4 years ago, and now this offseason. But I guess we need to see how all these new players pan out before we really know. What if one of Mirotic, Butler, or McDermott actually develops into an all-star like Joakim Noah has? Too bad Noah isn’t a better scorer.