Cubs GM Jim Hendry aims to limit his trades to players he knows won't be returning next season, he told Rick Brown of the Des Moines Register. Hendry explained:
"Why would we trade anybody who we think is going to help us next year or the years after? I would say if we move anyone it would be somebody we clearly knew wouldn't be back. We're not going to move people that we think are going to help us. Why would I trade Sean Marshall? Why would I trade Darwin Barney? Those calls kind of stop quickly. It makes no sense."
The next logical question is which Cubs players clearly won't be back. Aramis Ramirez won't be accepting a trade this month, and Ryan Dempster has full no-trade rights as well. Kerry Wood probably has a say in whether he's dealt. That probably leaves Kosuke Fukudome, Carlos Pena, John Grabow, and Reed Johnson as the Cubs' main trade candidates. However, I'm guessing the Cubs haven't ruled out re-signing Pena, so he's not a lock to be dealt.
An August trade appears possible for Ramirez, based on his agent's comments yesterday to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Paul Kinzer said that when his client's children return to the Dominican Republic in August for the start of school, "that could possibly loosen up" Ramirez's stance. Ramirez's $16MM option for 2012 technically becomes guaranteed upon a trade, but Kinzer said his client would want the option dropped. The agent does not feel the request would pose a problem for most teams.
There's also left fielder Alfonso Soriano, whose contract pays $18MM a year through 2014 and makes him virtually immovable. Talking to Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times, Soriano wasn't even aware he has a no-trade clause. But he did say he'd waive it to go to a contender.