We are only a few short weeks away (July 31, 3:00 pm CT) from one of the most exciting times in regular season baseball: the trade deadline. Unfortunately for Cubs’ fans, this time will likely mean the end of the road for one of your favorite players wearing Cubby blue. For the South siders, you may see a fresh face or two in black and white to help the Sox playoff push.
The White Sox are the only ball club in Chicago right now with a fighting chance to make the postseason this year. The Sox are 44-48 and are surprisingly only five games behind the Detroit Tigers in the AL Central. The Cubs, meanwhile, have been struggling, which has led to them holding the second-worst record in all of baseball at 37-55.
Looking at the White Sox, the deadline looks murky. Poor play in the next 11 games before the deadline could transform the team as sellers, while hot play obviously signals towards buying. The Sox will have two vital series against Cleveland and Detroit, who are both ahead of the Sox. These series will tell a lot about what may happen at the deadline.
The White Sox options:
- Keep the team as is/Make minor tweaks
Manager Ozzie Guillen told MLB.com “If we play to our potential, I guarantee we’re going to kick some people’s butt,” Guillen said. “But we’re not playing to our potential now.” That statement likely rings true. With players like Alex Rios (.210, 6 HR, 22 RBI), Gordon Beckham (.255, 7 HR, 29 RBI), and Adam Dunn (.160, 9 HR, 122 SOs) playing as bad as they are and the team only two games under .500, it can’t get much worse. If any of those three players get hot or just play up to par (which is likely) the Sox are serious contenders to win a rather weak AL Central.
The Sox also have the option to call up a guy such as Dayan Viciedo, who is hitting .319/.369/.523 with 16 HRs in Triple-A and demote either Brent Morel, Mark Teahen, or Brent Lillibridge. Teahen is the least likely to get the boot, as he is drawing walks and fielding. Viciedo can play third or a corner outfield spot and will certainly bring more pop into an inconsistent lineup.
- Trade either Mark Buerhle or Edwin Jackson
Buerhle may be one of the Sox most popular players, but his best days are behind him and he’s set to become a free agent after this year. The lefty still has some value on the market and the Sox would be wise to trade him and lock up John Danks for the future.
Edwin Jackson seems to be one of the more likely players to go at the deadline. There are a ton of contenders looking for a starter and Jackson is a quality righty who can be exchanged for prospects. Teams like the Pittsburgh Pirates, Red Sox, or Yankees may even overpay for him just like Kenny Williams did at the deadline last year. It’s also important to note that the Sox will have a six-man rotation as soon as Danks comes off of the DL. You can argue that the team is better off keeping all six starters due to injury concerns with Peavy, but a deal may come along that is too good to pass up.
- Acquire an outfield bat
The best outfield option at the deadline is clearly Carlos Beltran, although I don’t think he would be worth it for the Sox. Like the Ken Griffey, Jr. trade, Beltran is a former star who is past his prime and would cost the Sox some of their better prospects in exchange for a mediocre rental. A better option for the Sox would be to pursue the St. Louis Cardinals’ Colby Rasmus, who is on his way out the door in St. Louis and, at 24, still has loads of potential left. Not to mention that he is signed through 2011 for only $450k and may be resigned to replace Juan Pierre after this season. San Diego’s Ryan Ludwick is also available as well, but he’s nowhere near where he was two seasons ago.
Who will the Cubs trade:
There’s no doubt that the Cubs are sellers this year. As stated previously, they have the second-worst record in all of baseball and have as big of a shot as making the playoffs as the NBA and NFL lockouts both ending tomorrow. Here is who they may part with:
- Aramis Ramirez, 3B
Ramirez has had somewhat of an emergence this year. He’s batting .300/.345/.511 with 17 HRs and 58 RBI. However, he may not be moved due to him being a player who holds 10-and-5 rights (10 years in the majors, 5 with one team means player gets automatic no-trade clause). He has stated that he will not waive his no-trade clause, however, he may change his mind if the right team comes calling. At this point in the season, Ramirez might be the best bat available on the market, even better than Beltran. There’s a dearth run-producing third basemen, so the Cubs should try and exchange him for top pitching prospects to rebuild.
- Carlos Pena, 1B
Pena could be a prime target for a team like the Pittsburgh Pirates. They have a need for a power hitter, and PNC Park would be prime real estate for Pena. He’s owed roughly $4.5M, and the Cubs can possibly bring him back during the upcoming offseason.
- Marlon Byrd, OF
Byrd is one of the best Cub outfielders for the money he’s getting (only owed $2M this season and $6M next season), which makes him very attractive to contenders. Byrd can be exchanged for mid-level prospects and give one team either a starting outfielder or a great utility outfielder.
- Kosuke Fukudome, OF
Fukudome was one of the worst signings Hendry made a few years back, and will be finally gone after this season. Contenders may make offers for him in order to secure a solid fourth outfielder and decent leadoff hitter. The Cubs should do all they can to get rid of Fukudome.
- Carlos Marmol, RHP
A shutdown closer is rare, and that’s what Marmol has the potential to be. While control issues have hurt his value as of late, I think a few teams would be willing to pay up for Marmol’s services. However, he may be someone to keep just because he has the potential to be so dang good. I wouldn’t trade Marmol, but I think Hendry is dumb enough to do it.