We’re barely a week into the month of May, but it’s never too early to take a look down the road to one of every baseball nerds’ favorite times of year: the July 31 trade deadline.
Surely, a lot of things will change between now and then, but the crop of likely trade candidates is already shaping up to be an interesting one. Here, let’s take a look at what pieces around the league the Cubs might have interest in as well as what the Cubs have to offer the rest of the league. Starting with potential trade targets…
The Tampa Bay Rays’ young ace is undoubtedly the creme of the crop of this year’s potential trade candidates. He’s under team control until 2015 and already has a stellar career behind him. As of right now, his numbers are pretty terrible – he’s sporting an awful 6+ ERA and has already given up 8 HR, compared to only 16 all of last season. The good news here, for teams interested in Price, is that his walk and strikeout numbers are right on par with his career averages. So, chances are, his numbers will come back down to earth.
That said, the Cubs have long been considered a front-runner for Price by the plethora of media members that are convinced the Rays will part ways with Price rather than trying to pony up the king’s ransom he’ll surely require when he does hit free agency. Chiefly, this has to do with the fact that the Cubs are one of the (very) few teams who have a minor league system with enough talent to assemble a worthy package for the 2012 Cy Young Award Winner.
Obviously, any trade for price would have to include a number or prospects, but perhaps a package beginning with Daniel Vogelbach would be a good start. Vogelbach is blocked at the major league level in Chicago by Anthony Rizzo – who’s clearly not going anywhere. In Tampa, James Loney is holding down the first base spot (and is off to an incredible start), but unlike the National-League Northsiders, Tampa Bay has the option to stash Vogelbach’s big bat (and big torso, for that matter) in the DH hole. A spot where the Rays are currently starting Shelley Duncan; and he’s not exactly tearing it up. (.182 AVG/.297 OBP/.309 SLG).
That brings me to another point; perhaps a package that begins with both Alfonso Soriano and Vogelbach would be intriguing to the Rays. Soriano would provide an immediate upgrade at the DH spot – particularly considering his love of playing in warm weather – and Vogelbach would give them an option a few years down the road. Who knows if the Rays will go for it, but it sounds feasible to me. This will certainly be an interesting situation to watch as the season progresses.
Much like Price, I don’t really need to spend much time explaining why the Cubs would want Stanton. He’s a stud, and almost just as importantly, he’s under team control through 2016. The main issue here is that, because he’s under control for so long, the Marlins will assumedly be in no rush to make the deal. They’ll also have to be careful if they do decide to trade Stanton as the league is already pissed at the Marlins for their giant fire sale last year.
My primary concern is that the asking price might be bumped up even higher in a back-handed attempt to show the league they’re making a legitimate deal to help the team. Because of that, I’m calling this deal unlikely right from the start. But perhaps a package including someone like a Brett Jackson, paired with players like David DeJesus (who we’ll get to later) or Nate Schierholtz would be a good start to a package. Much like with the Price deal, it gives the Marlins some immediate help while also helping stock their minor league system.
Now, a couple of Cubs who might be on their way out:
I know. Fans are pretty fed up with him, as is my colleague Eric Marselle, who recently wrote a piece asking why Dale Sveum continues to trot the erratic reliever out to the mound game after game, despite his horrendous start to the season.
To me, that comes down to a last-ditch by Theo Epstein and Co. to attempt to build some vague semblance of a trade value for Marmol heading into the weeks/months leading up to the deadline. Teams always want relievers, particularly relievers with stuff as nasty as Marmol’s. Or, at least, as nasty as his stuff can be when he’s not falling flat on his face. Like it or not, Marmol’s probably going to continue getting play time until either his numbers improve or things get so bad that he’s released. And, by the way, with as much money as he’s making, things would have to get really bad.
So, for now, a trade seems highly unlikely. But if he can string together five or six strong outings and bring his numbers back down from outer space, perhaps Epstein and Jed Hoyer can at least squeeze a prospect out of someone in exchange for Marmol.
DeJesus is an interesting candidate for a lot of teams. He’s certainly not a long-term solution for anyone, but he does have a skillset that ages well. I’d be hard-pressed to believe that he won’t be a target for any number of teams seeking some high-OBP outfield help heading into the playoffs. Like Marmol, a list of potential suitors will have to wait, as it’s probably going to change a lot over the next couple of months. But rest assured, if the Cubs decide to cash in on the assets they have, DeJesus should easily find a new home.
Much like DeJesus, Schierholtz will likely be targeted by lots of teams. The upside here is that because Schierholtz is only 28, teams might also look at him as a relatively long-term solution to their outfield woes, making him all the more valuable.
Then again, because of his strong start to the season, it’s my belief that the Cubs likely won’t part ways with him unless it’s as part of a larger package to land an all-star caliber talent (like Price). As of right now, Schierholtz is the best insurance the Cubs have against a flop from one of their three most prized outfield candidates (Albert Almora, Jackson, Jorge Soler), and that will probably make the team think twice about letting him go in anything other than a blockbuster move.
So there you have it; it’s still early and there will certainly be lots of names added and removed from this list before the deadline passes on July 31, but with the two big names at the top of this list, it should make for an exciting ride.
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