Cubs Could Be Active Leading Up to the Trade Deadline

Baseball’s non-waiver trade deadline is two weeks away and teams have been connected to several players on the Cubs’ big league roster.

On the pitching front, teams are believed to be interested in Carlos Villanueva, James Russell, Wesley Wright and Hector Rondon. The Tigers scouted Rondon and asked about Neil Ramirez according to Bruce Levine and Detroit was told the Cubs are not looking to trade Ramirez right now.

Emilio Bonifacio reported to Double-A Tennessee Wednesday to continue his rehab and could be getting close to returning to the Cubs. According to Bruce Levine, Bonifacio is “coveted by numerous teams” including the Royals, Blue Jays and possibly the Reds.

Contending teams looking to sure up their defense, like the Blue Jays, have scouted Darwin Barney and there could be other teams interested in the Gold Glove second baseman that is also pretty good at shortstop. The Athletics and Blue Jays have been connected to Luis Valbuena as an option to fill a need at second base and backup infielder.

PrintOutfielders Justin Ruggiano, Chris Coghlan, Junior Lake and Nate Schierholtz are believed to be of interest to a few teams. Ruggiano and Coghlan have gotten hot at the right time for the Cubs and could help the front office, in the right package deal, add depth to the minor league system.

After the trade with Oakland, Jed Hoyer told Matt Spiegel and Peggy Kusinski on 670 The Score, “As far as more moves go, we are certainly going to listen. Obviously the guys that everyone focused on with us were the two starting pitchers. But I’m sure we’ll get a lot more phone calls,” Hoyer said. “So I’m sure it is going to be active and I’m sure we’ll get a lot of phone calls and we’ll make a lot of phone calls.”

Trades made between now and the end of August could end up as more of a way to clear payroll off the books and open spots on the 40-man roster. Unless the front office is able to get very creative and package multiple players in the same deal, the players the Cubs could end up trading will not net much of a return, as far as low to mid-level prospect.

The Cubs have players such as Emilio Bonifacio, Carlos Villanueva and Nate Schierholtz on expiring contracts and the front office will be trying to convert those short-term assets in to something for the system.

James Russell and Wesley Wright have one season of club control left before they become free agents. And Justin Ruggiano, Darwin Barney, Chris Coghlan and Luis Valbuena have two years of team control before they would hit the market.

Justin Ruggiano

The Royals and Mariners are looking for a right-handed hitting outfielder, and both teams are believed to be looking at the same options. Marlon Byrd, Josh Willingham, Alex Rios, Jonny Gomes, Dayan Viciedo and Justin Ruggiano lead the list of right handed outfielders that could help Kansas City and Seattle down the stretch.

Justin Ruggiano has hit lefties throughout his career (.263/.332/.507) and can play all three spots in the outfield. Ruggiano’s hot streak in the 13 games before the break (.400/.423/.600) has improved his stock considerably and he is rather cost effective for the remainder of the season. Ruggiano signed a $2 million contract with the Cubs to avoid arbitration and is owed less than $1 million for the remainder of this season.

The Mariners are believed to be interested in Marlon Byrd. But Seattle is on Byrd’s no trade list. According to Jim Bowden, Byrd would be willing to waive his no-trade clause and accept a deal if the Mariners pick up his vesting option for the 2016 season. The Phillies signed Byrd to a two-year contract for $16 million last winter that pays Byrd $8 million per year in 2014 and 2015. The third-year option is worth $8 million and is listed as a club option that would vest with 600 plate appearances in 2015 or 1,100 plate appearances in 2014 and 2015 combined with 550 plate appearances in 2015.

With both Kansas City and Seattle needing to make the post-season this year, the Cubs front office might be able to use that to their advantage and pry a little more away for Justin Ruggiano, and likely another player.

And a wild card to keep in mind for teams looking for a right-handed hitting outfielder, Alfonso Soriano is a free agent and can sign with any team he chooses. Ken Rosenthal reported Thursday that Soriano is mulling his options.

Carlos Villanueva

The Royals are one of the teams thought to be interested in acquiring Carlos Villanueva, and possibly as part of a package deal with Justin Ruggiano. The Royals were looking for help in the bullpen and were looking for a reliever according to Jon Heyman. Dayton Moore made a deal with the Rangers Wednesday and added a veteran reliever.

The Royals acquired Jason Frasor from the Rangers for minor league RHP Spencer Patton.

Is Carlos Villanueva now off Kansas City’s radar with the acquisition of Frasor and keep him from a reunion with both Ned Yost and Dale Sveum.

The Blue Jays have scouted Carlos Villanueva as well, and are believed to be interested in Villanueva and Darwin Barney. Would a package of Villanueva and Barney maybe net the Cubs a low-level pitching prospect? The Cubs have scouted the Jays’ system for three years and might be able to pull off a minor trade, save payroll for this season and receive something back in return for two players that do not figure to be in the Cubs plans moving forward.

James Russell and Wesley Wright

The Braves are looking for a lefty reliever and have scouted James Russell and Wesley Wright. According to Jim Bowden, the Braves have talked to the Cubs about Russell.

The Blue Jays, Orioles and Athletics are believed to be looking for help in their bullpens. Toronto has scouted Russell and Wright.

The front office has a history of working deals with the Orioles, Braves and Athletics. Could the Cubs and Athletics work out another deal that would include Luis Valbuena and one of the lefty relievers? Billy Beane is thought to be looking at Valbuena as an option to fill a hole at second base.

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