With the Cubs wallowing in last place, there hasn't been much to write about this year (how many different ways can you say the Cubs stink?). However, with the trade deadline fast approaching, things are about to get a lot more interesting for the Cubs.
I expect to see a lot of changes to the Cubs roster over the next 6 weeks, either via trade or prospects getting called up. With Bryan LaHair making his first start in right field yesterday, there is already an expectation that this means Anthony Rizzo will be called up soon.
On the trade front, rumors are heating up, primarily regarding Cubs pitchers Ryan Dempster and Matt Garza, however, they are not the only ones who could be traded.
Here's a look at the players potentially on the block and where they might be headed.
Dempster is not going to be traded in the next couple weeks, as he's currently on the DL with a lat strain. However, as many as ten teams are interested in the righthander, with the Dodgers and Red Sox at the forefront.
The Yankees were also reportedly interested in Dempster, however, according to Joel Sherman one Yankees exec doesn't think that Dempster would be an upgrade over what the team currently has.
Also, according to ESPN's Buster Olney (paysite), the Cubs are willing to pay a significant portion of Dempster's salary to get quality prospects in return.
Bottom line, the Cubs need to beef up their farm system and they are willing to "buy" prospects from other teams to do so.
Due to the fact that he's under team control through 2013 at a reasonable price, Garza would be the Cubs most attractive trade chip, should he be made available.
There has not been much talk of a contract extension lately and, according to Buster Olney (again paysite), Garza has been talked about a lot more in recent days. Olney also says that Garza would be one of the top pitchers on the market if he was made available.
The Dodgers are interested in Garza and the Yankees prefer Garza to Dempster. If we could get those two teams in a bidding war for his services, we should be able to land a good haul for Garza.
I have covered the albatross and his bloated contract several times, but for those of you who want to rehash it, MLBtraderumors does a nice analysis of Soriano's trade prospects.
Suffice it to say, it will be very difficult to trade Soriano.
This one surprised me a little, as Barney has been one of the Cubs more productive hitters this season. However, according to Ken Rosenthal, teams have frequently asked about Barney, but the offers haven't been to the Cubs liking, yet.
There are many teams who could use some infield depth and many see Barney as a utility type player.
LaHair is in play, according to Ken Rosenthal and Jim Bowden of ESPN says that many scouts feel he is a late bloomer, like Nelson Cruz or Jose Bautista.
However, the Cubs will probably wait and see how he fares in right field before deciding whether or not to trade him. If he can play a passable right field, the Cubs may want to hold onto him, as their lineup already lacks fire power.
Those are the main players that could end up on the block heading up to the July 31st trade deadline, but it is by no means an exhaustive list. The Cubs are probably willing to trade everyone on their major league roster, with the possible exception of Stalin Castro and even he was mentioned in trade rumors before Theo Epstein denied them.
As I said, it should be an interesting month and a half heading up to the trade deadline. In the next couple weeks, I will take a look at the players listed above and try to get a feel for what they net the Cubs in a trade.