If The Cubs Become Sellers

At 23-30, the Cubs are 8.5 games back in the NL Central and eight back in the wild card.  Their chance of making the playoffs is 1.1%, according to Baseball Prospectus.  The team's front office has to start thinking about a potentially huge offseason and how they can improve and free up even more cash for 2012.  Which Cubs might be available this summer?

  • Alfonso Soriano, currently on the DL with a strained left quad, always has to be presumed available.  The 35-year-old left fielder is showing good pop, but with a walk rate down to 3.2% he's a one-trick pony.  He earns $18MM per year through 2014, a contract I'd probably deem immovable if the Blue Jays hadn't managed to send Vernon Wells packing.  Soriano has a full no-trade clause.
  • Also close to immovable is righty Carlos Zambrano, who earns about $18MM this year and next.  He's pitched OK, with a reduced strikeout rate but the best control of his career.  Pitching is always coveted at the trade deadline, but the Cubs would need Zambrano's consent to make a deal.
  • Third baseman Aramis Ramirez has been healthy this season but his power has been missing.  He earns $14.6MM this year and his $16MM option for 2012 vests upon a trade.  He also has full no-trade rights.  A trade could be worked out if Ramirez displays power over the next six weeks or so, consents to a trade, and waives the '12 option.  Stranger things have happened.
  • Outfielder Kosuke Fukudome has trade protection as well.  At .432 he has the fourth-best OBP in the National League, though he has only six extra-base hits.  He could help a lot of teams, but is known for his fast starts and has a troublesome $13.5MM salary.
  • Starter Ryan Dempster saw his ERA top out at 9.58 on April 28th.  He then turned in a 3.08 mark in May.  Dempster has a $14MM player option for 2012 with no buyout.  This is a tricky one – he could get more total dollars and years on the open market, but he has a strong relationship with the Cubs and he wouldn't find a $14MM salary.  Dempster must approve any trade.
  • First baseman Carlos Pena had an awful April, but smacked seven home runs in May.  He's earning $10MM on a one-year deal and could be one of the better bats available.
  • Southpaw John Grabow is earning $4.8MM this year.  He hasn't been anything special against lefties and hasn't been used as a specialist.  He'd be hard to move.
  • Reliever Kerry Wood has been decent this year and would be a popular trade deadline target.  However, he took a big discount to come back to Chicago at $1.5MM, so he'll probably only be dealt if that's his preference.
  • Extra outfielder Reed Johnson is having a strong year in a limited sample, but he's on the DL due to back spasms.  If healthy, the Cubs figure to be open to moving him.
  • The Cubs have a lot of overpaid, somewhat useful players.  Guys like Dempster and Pena could generate a lot of interest, but in general GM Jim Hendry would have to assume salary to have another active trade deadline.  The Cubs were willing to eat $4.2MM in salary to move Derrek Lee, Ted Lilly, and Ryan Theriot last year.  Would Hendry resist another fire sale, knowing that those moves could be his last as Cubs GM?  Would the Cubs install someone else to conduct the proceedings, as the Diamondbacks did last year?
  • We've covered the Padres, Pirates, Twins, and Astros as potential sellers as well.

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