Mailbag: Potential Cubs’ Trade Targets

2012 Draft: Baseball America's Mock Draft v4.0
2012 Draft: Keith Law's Mock Draft v4.0
(AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Dustin asks: According to Bob Nightengale, nearly everyone on the Cubs but Jeff Samardzija is available. Looking at this realistically, who are some guys the Yankees should call in on?

Here’s the MLBTR write-up on Nightengale’s report and also clarification from Theo Epstein that shortstop Starlin Castro is not available. I’m sure they’re going to listen if someone is willing to blow them away, but I don’t think the Yankees have the pieces to land a young guy like Castro.

Anyway, the Cubs have a number of players that are both interesting and potentially useful to the Yankees. Some are obvious like Matt Garza (4.09 FIP), who Jon Heyman says New York is most interested in. I’m a Garza fan and think he’d be an ideal trade target for the rotation, though it would be costly. They’d be getting him for a season and a half at a below market salary, so I think something along the lines of the Dan Haren package — one premium prospect and two or three secondary pieces — would be reasonable. Heyman says the Yankees aren’t interested in Ryan Dempster (3.48 FIP) and I don’t love him either. Quality pitcher but not someone I consider a difference maker. Here’s what I wrote about Garza and Dempster last year.

Slugging first baseman/corner outfielder Bryan LaHair could be a fit for the Yankees depending on what they think of his defense in the outfield. He doesn’t have enough big league time for the defensive stats to be meaningful but it’s safe to assume he’s best at first given how often he’s played there this year and in the minors. The 29-year-old left-handed hitter is having a huge year (158 wRC+), but his primary skills are his ability to draw walks (12.7 BB%) and hits for power (.273 ISO), making him an ideal fit for Yankee Stadium. He strikes out a ton (28.9 K%) and struggles against southpaws (61 wRC+), so he’s cut from the Russell Branyan/Jack Cust cloth. LaHair came into the season will less than two years of service time, so he’ll be dirt cheap for the next five years and fit right into that 2014 payroll plan if he can handle a corner outfield spot on an everyday basis and essentially replace Nick Swisher.

Lesser pieces like David DeJesus (113 wRC+) and Reed Johnson (95 wRC+) could make sense if Brett Gardner‘s injury lingers, plus DeJesus is under contract for next year and could help replace Swisher in the short-term. I’m not the guy’s biggest fan but it is an option. The Yankee Analysts wrote more about DeJesus recently, so check that out. A reliever like changeup specialist Shawn Camp (3.17 FIP) could be a fit given the Mariano Rivera‘s injury, but I consider Carlos Marmol (5.47 FIP) a no-no. He’s just way too erratic and makes too much money. Kerry Wood could have been an option had he not retired a few weeks ago.

Garza and LaHair are the two most obvious players who could interest the Yankees if the Cubs do indeed conduct what amounts to a fire sale. A few lesser pieces like DeJesus and Camp could make sense but that’s really it; the north-siders don’t really have the most exciting roster in the world. The Yankees have never made a trade with the Theo Epstein/Jed Hoyer regime because of the whole Red Sox thing, but I can’t imagine that would impact any trade talks. Both parties know what’s up.

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2012 Draft: Baseball America's Mock Draft v4.0
2012 Draft: Keith Law's Mock Draft v4.0
  • Tim Davis

    Someone brought this up on Lohud

    Nunez, Betances, Warren, and Hughes for Garza

    How many fans wouldn’t do that trade. I’m guessing a lot lol. His reason for trading Hughes is selling high on him.

    • CountryClub

      I wouldn’t make that trade. But I’ve never been that high on Garza.

    • Knoxvillain

      Nunez sucks. Betances is nothing. Warren is just a filler.

      So it’s Hughes for Garza.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      Let’s not get cutesy with Hughes.

      Interesting that you didn’t bring up Banuelos I’d assume he’d be THE piece here, and I’d be fine with it. Another MLB-ready guy like Nunez would keep us away from the Single-A lottery tickets we want to hug right now.

      Banuelos, Phelps, Nunez for Garza? I’m sure my trade proposal, as always, sucks.

      • TheOneWhoKnocks

        I wouldn’t give up Banuelos for Garza and I think I like Garza more than most people.

        • Robinson Tilapia

          See my comment below to LiterallyFigurative. I don’t think it’s outlandish in the least.

      • Tim Davis

        Interesting that you didn’t bring up Banuelos

        ———————

        I didn’t bring him up because it’s not my trade idea.

        • Robinson Tilapia

          Not accussing you in the least.

    • Slu

      I am not that high on Garza, but I make that trade every day of the week.

      • MannyGeee

        oh yeah. I do this 8 days a week.

      • Tim Davis

        I probably would do the trade as well.

  • Dela G

    LaHair reminds me a lot of Ryan Ludwick in the fact that he’s older, and is having a random, breakout year. Let’s hope, if we could somehow finagle him, that he doesn’t flop like ludwick did in SD

  • TheOneWhoKnocks

    I don’t think the cubs would do that trade, and I’d be willing to do that trade except I’d look to flip Garza in the offseason.
    I don’t want his 2013 salary preventing us from acquiring a difference maker like Hamels.
    I think Garza would help us out this year, but I don’t find him attractive as anything more than a 1 year stopgap.

    • yoo-boo

      Exactly, I think Yanks should give Garza a look during 2013 offseason after checking out with Pineda and Pettitte situations.

      Right now, let Hughes and Nova deal with a full season struggle. It could make them better pitchers afterwards.

  • yoo-boo

    Nova, Hughes, Banuelos and Austin package may be enough to land Garza. It would take a miracle to land Garza with those jokers.

    • JohnC

      Way too much to give up for Garza

    • MannyGeee

      wow. that is almost a package for Garza AND LaHair.

      2 young pitchers already in the bigs with control years left, another “high profile” (by Yankees standards) prospect, and another piece for 1.5 of just Garza? yikes

    • TheOneWhoKnocks

      Why would the cubs be interested in Hughes? I think people overestimate the value Hughes has.

      He’s hitting FA after next season and he’s spent 6 seasons trying to get it together as a starter with very little success. (4.99 era)

      He’s the kind of player that gets claimed off waivers or you sign on a flier contract, not the kind of player that headlines a deal for a front end starter.

      • Robinson Tilapia

        No one is going to be claiming Phil Hughes off waivers anytime soon.

        • jsbrendog

          if phil hughes gets put on waivers tou better believe he’d get claimed. he is already better than half of the bottom 4/5 of many NL clubs. You’re telling me the twins wouldn’t claim him? look at their rotation.

          • Robinson Tilapia

            No, I’m telling you the Yankees aren’t putting him on waivers anytime soon.

            • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

              Ah, I was going to say. Whoever has first waiver priority (Twins?) would claim him.

              • Robinson Tilapia

                They’d be incredibly stupid if they didn’t, and the Yankees would be incredibly stupid if they did that with Hughes anytime soon.

                Thought I’d phrased that well. Guess I didn’t.

                • jsbrendog

                  my b yo. ::internet fistbump::

                  • Robinson Tilapia

                    *Fist bump*

                    Trying to teach my kid how to fist bump. Not understanding the concept of a closed fist just yet.

                    • RI$P FTW

                      I bet your wife does.

    • Bunt Gardner

      Hey, maybe you should include Mason Williams just to make sure you get him…and an additional throw-in reliever.

      • LiterallyFigurative

        Yeah, no.

        • Bunt Gardner

          That was written in the sarcasm font.

    • LiterallyFigurative

      Thank God you aren’t Brian Cashman.

      • Robinson Tilapia

        I think the person was more making a point and not making a serious proposal.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      Remains to be seen. You make an offer. If they ask for too much, you walk away. People here get on Cashman for doing just that and not making the trade.

  • Rey22

    Do we really want a platoon bat like LaHair replacing a full time player like Swisher? I guess if you pair Andruw with him it sorta makes sense, but he’d probably come expensive via trade because they’d be selling way high on him.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      The LaHair thing is odd. If the guy’s showing signs of life at 29, I’m not quite sure I’m putting my eggs in that basket. Still, if the price isn’t much, I’m not quite sure how it hurts.

  • LiterallyFigurative

    How about we let our young pitchers pitch?

    Radical thinking, I know.

    I like Garza, but why trade ManBan or Nova for him?

    “We can’t develop young pitchers” = “We’re too impatient to let young guys develop, so we should just trade prospects for $10 mil per year pitchers.”

    • Robinson Tilapia

      Garza’s still young enough that you’re getting a guy about to enter his prime and who has pitched very well in the AL East before. Enough questions about Banuelos in AAA to at least consider. Not jumping to do it, but it’s not outlandish.

      • mustang

        If you change Banuelos to Betances then we can talk. I’m not giving up on lefty arm way to valuable.

        • Havok9120

          The Cubs have no reason to take Betances as the headliner of a trade. That guy is not only a lottery ticket, he’s a lottery ticket that needs to be decoded before we can even read the numbers on it.

          • Robinson Tilapia

            Where you go buy your lottery ticket, if you walk to the back, sometimes there’s a deli counter. At that deli counter, you might get a good sandwich sometimes, but you’ll often get a sandwich that’s going to send you to the bathroom. You don’t know what sandwich you want and, frankly, you wonder whether having small bites at a time would be best.

            I assume you know where this is headed.

      • Ted Nelson

        I think it’s a little outlandish for 1.5 seasons of a non-elite P, for 6 seasons of an elite P prospect. I don’t know that any other team will be offering a top 25 prospect already in AAA. The thing about the Haren package was that Skaggs was still in A-ball… years away. His ceiling might have been similar to what Banuelos’ is, but his probability wasn’t in the same ballpark.

        I think that there’s a whole lot more downside with this deal than upside for the Yankees.

        Let’s not overvalue Garza, either. Guy is a career 4 ERA/FIP guy who had one great season last year. He’s right back to who he always was this season. I wouldn’t expect 2011 Garza in the AL East. I would expect a nice 4 ERA/FIP middle-of-the-rotation arm.

    • mustang

      I agree and to be honest I don’t think the pitching is the problem between the starters and the pen I think they can get the job done.
      I think the need is a bat preferably an outfielder. I know the Yankees offensive numbers are good, but they have to get someone in here to help with RISP situation.

      So I say Bryan LaHair or DeJesus. I always liked the Dejesus, but LaHair numbers can’t be ignored.

      • LiterallyFigurative

        I like DeJesus, given the defense component.

  • pat

    Isn’t trading away franchise SS sort of Theo’s forte? Hughes for Castro?

    • Rick in Philly

      Theo didn’t trade Henley, just Nomah.

    • Rick in Philly

      Wasn’t the Hanley trade during Theo’s gorilla-suited “time off” period?

      • pat

        Truth! I sit corrected.

  • Brain Cashman

    Come on guys am not gonna trade for Matt Garza for these couple reasons.

    1. He too young
    2. Not injured enough or does’t seem to be injured
    3 does not make 20 million
    4. Still too young

  • Kosmo

    I could see a Garza-DeJesus-Travis Wood for Banuelos,Nova OR Hughes, Joseph, Nunez or Segedin deal. Yanks relieve the Cubs of Garza and DeJesus´ contracts. DeJesus is an OK 4.5 million 2 year stop gap if NY decides not to resign Swisher. Cubs get a MLB tested pitcher, a decent 2B prospect and Banuelos the 2nd ranked LHSP prospect. Garza is 28 with AL East experience.
    Look at what the Rays got in return for Garza. Alot of dreck.

    • Havok9120

      I think Theo would laugh at this as if you were joking, then hang up the phone when he realized you’re serious.

      • Kosmo

        Tell me why . What´s wrong with Banuelos, Nova, Joseph and Segedin for Garza and 2 throw ins.

        • pat

          Lol who is going to trade for Banuelos while he’s on the DL with a sore elbow? Are you kidding? The rest of those guys are barely mlb quality.

          • Kosmo

            Banuelos may not have a sore elbow come July . Nova is barely MLB quality ? Joseph could very well be a starting 2B. Cubs have zero use for DeJesus a 4th OF. They´re stuck with Soriano in LF, want to move Lahair to RF so they can call Rizzo up.

            • Havok9120

              They have use for him as a trade piece. They aren’t just itching to get rid of him to clear payroll. They want to get a decent return for their trade chips.

      • Kosmo

        I like Garza but he´s not that great a pitcher and it´s not like he´s having a great year. He´s a solid number 2 or 3 SP.

        • Havok9120

          Too many contending teams need starters right now and Garza is his top trade chip. Whether its deserved or not, Garza has a reputation as a very, very, very good pitcher and you’re basically giving him 1 good-very good lottery ticket, a pitcher who has now twice rebuilt his game and has not been effective this season, and 2 pieces of filler. Maybe that gets it done for Garza alone if no one else is in on the bidding, but probably not even then. To make matters worse, you’re then asking for not only Garza, but other useful pieces?

          No. If the Cubs do host a fire sale, it isn’t to dump salary or to make room for prospects. Its to get prospects and cost controlled guys around which you can rebuild that franchise. You gave him 1 guy that fits that mold for his best trade chip.

          • Kosmo

            Check out what the Rays received for Garza and you tell me which trade brings more potential value the Cubs trade package for Garza or my proposal. The Cubs would get 4 or 5 cost controlled players. There is a risk NOva becomes as good as Garza.
            Garza is a second tier type pitcher.
            other teams will not give away 4 or 5 of their top prospects for 1 of Garza.

            • Havok9120

              There’s a difference between “4 or 5 top prospects” and 1 starter with mixed MLB experiece, 1 with no experience and a mixed track record in the minors, and two pieces of filler. Sure, they’re all cost controlled. They also aren’t all that good.

              As for the Rays, what they got for him a year and a half ago has little bearing on this. Yes, Garza is a second tier type guy. But you’re giving away a useful 3/4 type guy, a lottery ticket, a guy who hasn’t shown much of anything at any minor league level, and Corban Jospeh. And you also want ANOTHER useful trade piece.

              This is the definition of us over valuing our own guys.

            • Ted Nelson

              I don’t think your package is too far off (though Betances is an enigma, including his trade value). As you say, Nova alone is probably about as good as Garza and far cheaper.

              It might be in the Yankees favor… but why are they overpaying to match the Cubs demand on a good but not great SP who isn’t particularly cheap going forward (i.e. hits FA soon)? What the Cubs want to get and what the Yankees should be willing to pay are two different things.

              However, why do you keep acting like the Rays gave him away? They got two top 100 prospects at that time. That those guys are struggling right now doesn’t mean they didn’t (and still don’t) have a ton of potential. The nature of trading veterans for prospects is that most prospects will fail… which is why you give up more potential.

    • Ted Nelson

      I wouldn’t trade Manny for Garza. I expect the same going forward from both Nova and Hughes as from Garza. He’s lower risk, but also more expensive. I don’t think any other team is offering a top 25 prospect in AAA for Garza.

      However, the Rays did not get “dreck” for Garza… where did you get that impression?
      Archer was the #27 prospect in baseball according to BA when they got him. He hasn’t worked out so far, but he was a stud prospect.
      Lee has hit a wall in AA, but he’s still a top 100 type prospect at the premium position.
      Then they got 3 other MLB-ready-ish contributors as well.

  • Rob

    I think a fair trade would be Hughes, Phelps, Nunez and Rob Segedin for Garza?

    • Havok9120

      No way, and I don’t like Garza. Hughes has too little team control left and Phelps, Nunez, and Segedin are just plain not good enough.

  • mustang

    Hughes, Betances and fillers for Garza and Dejesus.

    I’m not giving up LHP Banuelos. Have we forgotten the value of LHP?

    • Havok9120

      0_o

      You reeeeeeeeaaalllly don’t think much of Garza do you?

      • mustang

        I like Garza, but enough to throw in a ship of guys and a LHP. Again I think the pitching staff can hold its end up, but they need someone to help with those RISP.

        • mustang

          You know come playoff time the “800-pound RISP gorilla ” will show up.

          • mustang

            RISP 26-171 (.152)

            HELP !!!!!!!!!

            • Havok9120

              There’s no such thing as “help” for something that has had nothing to do with skill or plate approach. Even our guys who aren’t HR or bust haven’t done much.

              What kind of “help” are you talking about for that?

              • Ted Nelson

                Magic

              • mustang

                Not magic, but maybe get another hitter in here to switch things up a bit maybe catch “Lightning in a Bottle ” somehow. Doing something is better then just hoping that this group can somehow figure it.

                Example off the top of my head would something like the David Justice trade.

  • MattG

    Rather than LaHair, I would like to trade for the bottle with the lightning in it.

  • mike

    Why would Theo trade his top chip for a FB/HR pitcher to pitch at Wrigley with mediocre success at the ML level?

    The Cubs do not need salary relief – they need an influx of ML talent (or talent on the cusp)to rebuild.

    I do think Nunez would interest them, especially if they got a huge package for Castro, as his bat would play very well in Wrigley. But, that would mean a complete rebuild ( losing Castro, Garza +) in a few days – which is super gutsy.

    Other than that, i don’t see a match for Garza unless Yanks pick up Soriano’s salary

    • Havok9120

      They’ve already said Castro is off limits unless someone blows them away. I’m not sure who could do that even if they wanted to.

  • steve s

    Seems like a lot of groupthink going on here regarding Garza. He’s been traded (dumped?) by 2 teams (with a 3rd looking to trade/dump him now) and he’s 2 and half years older than Hughes. I’m not sold on trading Hughes for Garza even-up let alone for any of the multi-player packages described above.

    • A.D.

      Agreed that not sure Hughes makes sense, but I’m less worried about his track record with teams, each time seems to make sense:

      Twins – Rays: trading young talents from areas of strengths for areas of need
      Rays – Cubs: Was starting to get expensive for Rays, Cubs could afford him
      Cubs – ???: Looking to blow-up an expensive, terrible team

    • Havok9120

      Eh. I don’t want Garza at all, but I also know that other teams are scrounging for starters who are far worse than he is. If people actually DO want him, they have to give up more sure-fire talent and/or more ceiling that most of those proposals are. Its about quality, not quantity. Its not as if Theo is just dying to get rid of Garza for salary reasons.

    • Ted Nelson

      There may be some groupthink with Garza, but he wasn’t dumped, being traded is not particularly correlated talent (Pedro was also traded twice… Schilling bounced around… etc.), and he’s far more of a sure thing than Hughes. Garza is not an ace, but he’s a quality SP.

  • MontgomeryKmachine

    I want nothing to do with LaHair, he is strictly a DH in the AL and the last thing I want is another guy in this lineup who is just a 3 true outcomes guy.

  • A.D.

    Don’t really why the Cubs would want to trade Garza, I get they suck and want to blow it up, but they do have money, and will start shedding bad contracts soon, thus can build the team around Garza (sign extension), Samardzija, Castro, and hopefully for them Brett Jackson

    • Havok9120

      Because if they can start a bidding war for him they can probably get a lot more potential value out of trading Garza than they could get pitching him every 5 days for 6 years. There are a lot of teams in contention right now, especially with the second WC spot. Starting pitchers of any quality are at a severe premium because of that.

    • Ted Nelson

      Because Garza is overrated, I’d say. Guy is a good 4 ERA/FIP SP who had a very good season in 2011. As maybe the premier SP on the trade market you could get some real upside for him or at least get in line for the same production at a fraction of the price.

  • Manny’s BanWagon

    Signing Hamels or Greinke >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> trading away some combination of Banuelos, Sanchez and Mason Williams for Garza.

    • TheOneWhoKnocks

      I agree, and I’m sure mostly everyone else would. However
      1) Hamels and Greinke won’t help our current chances. We sure could use an arm this year.

      2) There’s no guarantee Hamels and Greinke hit free agency. Sure it’s likely at this point, but the Phillies and Brewers are both in danger of not being in contention this season, and would definitely sell Hamels and Greinke at the deadline if they fall further out of the race.
      Whatever teams trade for Hamels and Greinke would definitely want to extend them.
      3) Even if they hit free agency, there’s no guarantee we would win the bidding. Cashman has already said he doesn’t think Greinke is a good fit in NY which leaves us with Hamels, who is easily looking at over a $120m contract. With the $189 budget looming and other teams emerging with lots of $$$ to spend, I can see the Yankees losing out on the guy they want most. We went through it with Cliff Lee already.

      • Havok9120

        Oh, I certainly agree with the premise that one of those two is better than trading for Garza. I just don’t think that the organization is all that interested in making any of these things happen.

      • JohnnyC

        We didn;t get out-bid on Lee. He just didn’t want to pitch here (or Texas).

      • Robinson Tilapia

        You actually might need the extra arm more next year than you do now. Every member of the current rotation is capable of quality starts.

        Sure, Hamels would be better. Good luck with that.

    • Ted Nelson

      Where did you come up with a combination of Banuelos, Sanchez, AND Williams for Garza? Dude is a 4 ERA/FIP innings eater with 1.5 seasons on his deal. I don’t see this front office overpaying like that.

  • RI$P FTW

    Enough about Garza already.