Much of the focus of rumors over the past month or so for the Cubs has revolved around pitching. With Dexter Fowler currently on a two-month slump and his slash line down to .228/.306/.369 for the season, the club has realized their need for a more reliable left-handed hitting outfielder who is capable of also playing center field. With more teams transitioning into the seller’s market as the deadline swiftly nears, Gerardo Parra’s name has come up recently and could be a good fit for a Cubs team in the thick of the hunt.
Let’s take a look at what it may take to acquire him.
Gerardo Parra should be fairly familiar to Cubs fans as he’s been a member of the Milwaukee Brewers since the deadline last year. Parra came up with the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2009 and has carved a niche as a strong defensive player who excels in the corners and has a career .289/.336/.430 line against righties. The knock on Parra is the fact that some believe he just doesn’t have enough power or speed to warrant full-time outfield duty with 10 home runs and 15 stolen bases the most he’s hit in one season. This year Parra seems to be on pace to eclipse both with his current numbers of a .308/.345/.477 line with seven home runs, 25 RBI and six stolen bases. The 28-year old is only under control through this season, but is owed $6.24 million so if his acquiring team picked up the rest of his salary, it may lessen the return prospect wise some. Parra would make a nice platoon mate for Fowler and improve a bench that currently has only Mike Baxter as a lefty bat.
Parra’s recent trade to the Brewers is a good first gauge of what kind of return he might net. In the deal, the Diamondbacks received LHP Anthony Banda and OF Mitch Haniger. Haniger was a top three prospect in a Brewers’ system considered to be among the worst in all of baseball. Haniger was thought to be the Brewers most advanced hitting prospect and profiled as a player very similar to Parra in the future. Banda was a top 25 prospect with mid-rotation upside.
Dexter Fowler is a switch hitter, but his numbers over the past few seasons have been very similar to Parra over the year albeit with a little more power and a little more speed. Fowler’s trade to the Cubs from the Houston Astros involved RHP Dan Straily and INF Luis Valbuena. Straily had a little too much Major League experience to be a prospect in the Cubs organization, but was ranked as high as a top five prospect back in 2013 for the Oakland A’s. Since that time, Straily hasn’t shown the same magic he did in his debut season, but he remains a pitcher with about five years control remaining, a valuable asset for a young team. Valbuena was a capable Major League regular who had filled third base for the Cubs the previous two seasons. He had experience all over the infield, had some pop and knew how to work a count. Valbuena was under team control for two seasons and was an upgrade at third base for his new team.
Angel Pagan is another similar player to Parra, but with more speed and has been traded a couple of times in his career. The most recent trade involving Pagan going from the New York Mets to the San Francisco Giants netted RHP Ramon Ramirez and OF Andres Torres. Ramirez was a solid middle reliever who had a career 3.16 ERA in six seasons at the time of the deal. Andres Torres was also a centerfielder like Pagan and filled the position for the Mets since they lost Pagan in the trade, but at 34 was near the end of his career and had just one year of control.
Since a good centerfielder is hard to find, all three deals feature at least one quality player being sent to the acquiring team. With the Brewers being one of the main sellers on the market, a division rival to the Cubs and already discussing deals with other contending teams, the front office may have to give up a little more than they would like to acquire Parra. A close to Major League ready player with a lot of control could be attractive to a Brewers team on the verge of a rebuild. Players like Junior Lake, Matt Szczur, Mike Olt, Christian Villanueva or Dan Vogelbach could make sense, but a top ten worthy prospect like Jeimer Candelario, Eloy Jimenez, Jen-Ho Tseng or Pierce Johnson might be what it takes.
With an offense that’s been floundering lately to put runs up on the board, the Cubs need a shot in the arm if they hope to be in contention come September. A bat like Parra’s that is good at getting on base and making steady contact could help stabilize the top of the order and give big bats like Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant more to drive in besides themselves. However, with so few teams selling and so much more in the buyer’s market, Parra might cost more than the front office is looking to pay.
Player Acquisition Cost Reports:
- RHP Tyler Clippard
- INF/OF Ben Zobrist
- RHP Jonathan Papelbon
- LHP Cole Hamels
- LHP Oliver Perez
- LHP Scott Kazmir
- RHP Sonny Gray
- LHP Steven Matz
- RHP Tom Koehler
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