In his second season calling the shots for the Chicago Cubs, Theo Epstein’s overhaul of the franchise is in its early stages. There are only a handful of players on the current roster that Epstein considers to be a part of the team’s long term plan. Many of the players on the 2013 squad are stop gaps who are expected to be replaced by prospects in the near future. The Cubs hope that some of the non-core players will have early season success so their trade value increases, and they can be flipped for top prospects. The burning question is, who will be dealt and who will stay?
It seems Alfonso Soriano’s name has been mentioned as part of trade rumors throughout almost his entire tenure with the Cubs. Talks seemed to heat up at the trade deadline in 2012, but the Cubs were ultimately unable to find a suitor for Soriano. However, 2013 might be the season the Cubs are finally able to unload Soriano. Since Soriano only has one year beyond 2013 left on his contract, the Cubs are willing to eat a good portion of his salary if they receive a good prospect in return. If Soriano manages to put up numbers similar to the ones he put up in 2012, he would be an extremely attractive option for a contender who is one right handed slugger short of making a playoff run. The deal would also be low risk economically as the team trading for Soriano would only have to pay a small fraction of the money owed to Soriano the next couple of years. There should be a team that is desperate enough come trade deadline time to give the Cubs the type of prospect they are looking for in exchange for Soriano’s services.
Carlos Marmol is another name that has been repeatedly mentioned in trade rumors, most notably during this past off-season when he was reportedly traded to the Los Angeles Angels in exchange for Dan Haren until the Cubs backed out of the deal due to concerns with Haren’s health. The Cubs also brought in Kyuji Fujikawa from Japan, who may turn out to be a more reliable option at closer. Marmol will be extremely tough to trade both because of his huge contract and his wildly inconsistent performance. It is possible that if Marmol pitches well in the first half of the season that a team might take a chance on him because of his sky high potential, however he has shown nothing to make anyone believe he will be able to pitch well consistently. The most likely scenario is that Marmol continues to struggle throwing strikes and eventually relinquishes the closer duties to Fujikawa and finds himself as the most expensive setup man in all of baseball.
Unless Matt Garza gets healthy quickly and shows the league that he can stay that way, the Cubs will not be able to get the type of prospects in return for him that they would like. Garza is only 29 years old and could be a contributor in a few years when the Cubs are expected to be competitive. Epstein and company will be weighing their options with Garza this year and trying to figure out if they are better off trading him or trying to sign him to an extension. Given Garza’s recent string of injuries, it is likely that teams will be hesitant to give up top prospects in order to get him. If this is the case, then the Cubs would be best off trying to sign Garza to a long term deal to start solidifying their rotation going forward.
Soriano, Marmol and Garza have been constantly mentioned as potential trade candidates, but there is a Cubs outfielder who may be dealt whose name has seldom been mentioned. David Dejesus is not the flashiest player, and he doesn’t put up gaudy numbers but he is the type of player who can be the perfect piece for a contending team. He works extremely deep counts, which most teams love to see, and he is a veteran who can provide leadership to a team that might be lacking it. A team would be wise to try and make a deal for Dejesus, and the Cubs should be more than willing to deal him since it has Brett Jackson waiting to take over as the everyday center fielder.
In all likelihood the Cubs will find themselves as sellers once again at the 2013 trade deadline and it appears that aside from Castro, Rizzo and Samardzija no one is safe. The Cubs want to continue to stockpile young talent, and there are several pieces on the 2013 roster who could be dealt for some talented prospects. Depending on how the first half of the season pans out, the Cubs roster could look vastly different in August then it does now.