Whether or not a trade happens between two teams can come down to many nebulous factors, from the relationship between the two GMs, how clubs value players, and the level of motivation a team has to move someone. But one important element that can be looked at objectively is how the teams match up. This is a series where I’m going to look at how the Yankees match up with the other team for their prospective trade targets.
What do the Cubs need?
A lot. 1B Carlos Pena and 3B Aramis Ramirez are both free agents. After Garza their starting pitching consists of Carlos Zambrano, Ryan Dempster, Randy Wells, Rodrigo Lopez and Casey Coleman. They don’t have an everyday RF, having traded the disappointing Kosuke Fukudome last July and relying on a platoon of Reed Johnson and Tyler Colvin for much of the rest of the year. They don’t need relievers with Carlos Marmol as their Closer and Kerry Wood, Sean Marshall and Jeff Samardzija as their set up tandem.
Who do they have in their farm system?
OF Brett Jackson is their top positional prospect, and after killing it (.297/.300/.591) in 48 games in AAA last year he may be ready as soon as midseason 2012. CF Matt Szczur had a nice year in his debut in low-A, but struggled after being promoted to High-A Daytona. After that, not much to get excited about. Josh Vitters was supposed to be their 3B of the future but he’s been a big disappointment, struggling mightily each time he’s climbed the ladder in the minors. He’s a few years away if he ever arrives. Baseball America notes that their system has more depth than impact talent, meaning they may have more future MLB players than anyone else, though they lack those who project as stars.
Yankee trade chips that match:
Jesus Montero (1B) Brandon Laird (3B) Nick Swisher (RF) Hector Noesi (SP) Dellin Betances (SP) Manny Banuelos (SP) Hector Noesi (SP)
Jim Hendry was fired not just for being a bad GM, but because the teams finances took a hit for the first time in recent memory. The Cubs have two enormous dead weight contracts in Alfonso Soriano and Carlos Zambrano, both of whom are paid to be elite players (18M per) but appear to have their best days behind them. The Cubs have been willing to spend money in recent years, having a top 5 payroll from 2007-08 and top 3 from 2009-10. It remains to be seen if Theo wants to do a quick turnaround via free agency or go for the full rebuild. If he doesn’t think he can compete for the division next year (Pujols re-signing with the Cards may impact that) he may want to deal Garza, who’s his most valuable commodity and due to become a FA after the 2013 season. The value of a cost-controlled pitcher of Garza’s talent is essentially lost on a team like the Cubs, that needs to rebuild its farm system more than they need Garza to start 30 games in a losing effort. But if he signs Prince Fielder that tells me he’s going for it next year. Theo openly groaned about the Manny Ramirez deal for years, I have doubts he will sign a longer, more expensive deal with someone that has Prince’s physique.