Tuesday, July 20, 2010
The Cubs have been playing at least a slightly more enjoyable version of baseball lately. They swept the Diamondbacks in Arizona, lost three of four to a good Dodgers team and then outscored the Phillies by 11 in taking three of four. But the painful truth remains: the Cubs are 10 games under .500, 10.5 games out of first and have fewer teams listed below them in the NL Central standings than above them. And with less than two weeks remaining until the trade deadline, Jim Hendry has little choice but to at least try to sell off a few pieces in order to garner prospects and/or shed payroll. Here's a quick look at some of the Cubs' trade chips and some of their potential suitors:
Lilly's situation absolutely screams "Trade!" First there's his age: he'll be 35 next season, and with the Cubs likely to be in a rebuilding mode, it's unlikely they would give him a three- or four-year deal for the amount of money he deserves and will command as a free agent. There's the second thing: he'll be a free agent after this year, which makes him a perfect two-month rental for a team trying to make a playoff push.
While he has a misleading 3-8 record, his ERA is solid (4.07) and his WHIP (1.13) is lower than it ever was in Oakland or Toronto. His success in the NL these last four years may result in more interest from NL teams, and the Mets are said to have kicked the tires while the Dodgers could use another starter. The Twins and Tigers could both use an arm as well over in the AL. Andy Pettitte just landed on the DL for the Yankees, and they were already in on Cliff Lee recently before he went to the Rangers.
Two additional factors boost Lilly's trade value: he projects as a Type A free agent, meaning a team that trades for him and then loses him in the offseason would get two draft picks; and Roy Oswalt left his start on Sunday after hurting his ankle, though he is not expected to miss his next start. Outside of Oswalt, Lilly is perhaps the best starter available at the deadline.
Outside of Carlos Silva's mom and perhaps Silva himself, there isn't a person in the world who thought he'd be 9-3 with a 3.45 ERA at the All-Star break. The problem here is that he'll earn over $12 million next season, so the Cubs would almost certainly have to pay a portion of that in order to trade him. This is a tough one: should Hendry make him available given that his stock will likely never be higher, or keep him around for another year given his surprising resurgence?
His .244 average is not helping his stock, but he is a Gold Glove first baseman and a veteran with a track record of success. The Angels have been mentioned due to Kendry Morales being out for the season, though Lee has a full no-trade clause should he choose to use it.
He'll still earn over $20 million between now and the end of next year, and as we know all too well, he's not that great. The Red Sox had discussions with the Cubs about him at one point, and the Giants and Padres could both use an outfield bat. Neither of those NL West teams seem likely to take on much payroll, however.
The Cubs don't seem to believe that Fontenot fits into their starting lineup, yet he won't be a free agent until after the 2013 season. The Angels and Phillies could use a bat due to injuries, and the Mets have something of a black hole at second base. Fontenot's defensive versatility is a plus.
While the Cubs clearly value Theriot over Fontenot, they could try to unload The Riot and make Fontenot the starter. This would make some sense given that Theriot becomes a free agent one year earlier and given that he became the first Cub to go to arbitration since Mark Grace this past February (meaning there could be a bit of bad blood between him and the team). Good thing the Cubs won that case since he's slugging .307 and has a .311 OBP this season.
The lefty has done a respectable job in a year-plus since coming to Chicago, and the Cubs could probably get a decent prospect or two for him in a trade. They could also keep him, though, given that he, like Fontenot, won't hit free agency until after 2013.
Nady's never had the chance to play every day as a Cub, and it's possible he can't really do so due to his surgically repaired elbow. He could still be a decent pick-up for a team needing a bat. MLB Trade Rumors indicates that the Rangers, Angels, Yankees and Padres could make sense.