Cubs Willing To Trade Prior?

Ken Rosenthal‘s got Chicago buzzing:

"The Cubs, aggressively pursuing a blockbuster trade for Orioles shortstop Miguel Tejada, are willing to part with a top starting pitcher, most likely right-hander Mark Prior, sources tell"

According to Rosenthal, the talks stalled when the Cubs insisted on receiving Erik Bedard and Tejada without surrendering Felix Pie or a top pitching prospect.

A longshot three-way deal involving Manny Ramirez, Tejada, and Prior was also mentioned.

As stated here back in November, Bedard is very much available.  Bedard is more than a year older than Prior, and is even more fragile.  I’ve projected Bedard at a 3.74 ERA in 170 innings in 2006.  I originally had Prior at a 3.37 ERA in 202 innings, although the ERA could be more like 3.53 after I make some more adjustments.

Bedard is a lot further away from free agency than Prior, having only two Major League seasons under his belt.  He and Tejada would be a fair return for Prior, even if the Cubs had to include Rich Hill in the deal as the "top pitching prospect."  Using 2005 stats and assuming no contribution from any prospects sent by the Cubs, this is a trade that would net the Cubs seven wins in 2006.  Is the present team a .500 club?  If so, this trade could propel the Cubs to the playoffs.

Still, I can’t help having that ominous feeling that the Cubs could be letting a major talent slip away.  At just 25, Prior’s best seasons are probably yet to come (2003 excepted.) Miguel Tejada will turn 30 in May, and you can’t help but worry about his .276/.322/.416 line in 308 post All-Star break at-bats.  Sure, people will say he was uninspired and maybe mention the Palmeiro distraction, but the seed of doubt remains.

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