Soriano next? Plus lots of oddities and ends

Soriano next? Plus lots of oddities and ends

Posted by Bruce on Tue, 07/23/2013 - 09:31

We’ll get caught up on a few things today, the morning after the Cubs traded pitcher Matt Garza to the Texas Rangers for prospects. Now, word comes out of New York and the New York Post that the Cubs and Yankees are close to a deal that would send left fielder Alfonso Soriano to the Bronx:

The Post’s George King reports that the Cubs would pick up most of what’s left on Soriano’s eight-year, $136 million contract, which expires at the end of the 2014 season. Soriano has no-trade rights because he is a 10-and-5 player.

In return, King reports, the Cubs would get a midlevel prospect.

As far as the Garza trade goes, it’s full circle for the Cubs, who traded prospects to get Garza in the first place under former GM Jim Hendry in January 2011.

The most intriguing of the prospects the Cubs got for Garza is right-hander C.J. Edwards, who has not surrendered a home run in his professional career in 160.1 innings pitched. Edwards was 8-2 with a 1.83 ERA and a WHIP of 1.03 this year at Class A Hickory. In 93.1 innings, he gave up 62 hits and 34 walks while striking out 122. In his pro career, he has averaged 11.6 strikeouts per 9 innings, fanning 207 while walking 59 in 160.1 innings.

Edwards was a 48th-round draft choice in 2011.

The other main upshot of the trade is the Cubs’ crowded third-base situation in the minor leagues. GM Jed Hoyer told us last night on the conference call that newly acquired Mike Olt will see most of the playing time at third at Class AAA Iowa, with Josh Vitters moving to the outfield. Vitters got a shot last year in a brief major-league call-up, but both fielding and hitting issues seemed to sour the Cubs. A quad injury in spring training slowed Vitters this year. At Iowa, he is batting .297/.381/.500 in 23 games on 22-for-74 hitting with 4 home runs.

Olt is the second third baseman the Cubs have gotten from Texas in two years. At the trading deadline last season, they traded Ryan Dempster to the Rangers for pitcher Kyle Hendricks and third baseman Christian Villanueva. Hendricks is having a nice year. He got a no-decision Monday in Class AA Tennessee’s 5-4 loss to Jacksonville. Hendricks is 9-3 with a 1.91 ERA and a WHIP of 1.04.

Villanueva has a hitting line of .254/.306/.438 with 12 homers and 48 RBI. He also has 17 errors, including 2 last night.

And, of course, the Cubs took third baseman Kris Bryant with the second overall pick this season. Bryant picked up his first hit, a double, Monday for Arizona in Rookie ball. The plan for now is to leave Bryant at third base and see how things shake out down the line.

The other point I’ve asked about and written about since the trading season began was whether the Cubs would be able to withstand the loss of starting pitching through trades. Last year, they were not. They had to run the likes of Justin Germano, Jason Berken and Chris Volstad out to the mound late in the season after the trades of Dempster and Paul Maholm and the elbow injury to Garza. They then shut down Jeff Samardzija in early September. In addition to the journeyman pitchers mentioned, the Cubs also gave starts to rookies Brooks Raley and Chris Rusin.

Rusin filled in for Garza last night and got the win, working 5 innings and giving up 2 hits and 2 runs in the Cubs’ 4-2 victory over the Diamondbacks. Both Rusin and Raley have another year of experience, and that should help. The Cubs also seem to feel that pitchers Jake Arrieta and Justin Grimm, obtained this year in trades, will be able to do creditable jobs in the rotation if called on, and it’s likely they will be called on. The Cubs have a day-night doubleheader next Tuesday against the Brewers at Wrigley Field, and it’s likely one of those two newly acquired pitchers will make a start.

And how about Junior Lake, eh? He hit his first career homer last night and is making his case to stay on the major-league roster, even when David DeJesus comes off the disabled list. In his first four games, Lake is 9-for-17 with a double, a homer and 3 RBI.

Lake is three days younger than Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro, with Castro being born March 24, 1990 and Lake being born March 27, 1990. The Cubs signed Castro as an undrafted free agent out of the Dominican Republic in 2006. They signed Lake out of the Dominican in 2007. Castro had 264 games of minor-league experience and 995 at-bats before making his Cubs debut in May 2010. Lake had 619 games of minor-league experience and 2,254 at-bats before coming up last Friday.

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