The emergence of Starlin Castro as the shortstop has created a logjam at second base, so that was one area where the Cubs wanted to move some pieces around.
Since the off-season, the Cubs have made their interest in trading Ryan Theriot perfectly clear. Despite being only $800,000 apart in arbitration, the Cubs refused to even negotiate with Theriot and went to arbitration for the first time since 1993. So it makes sense that the team packaged left-hander Ted Lilly together with Theriot in a trade to the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The return package brings three players all under the age of 25, but doesn’t exactly do a whole lot to solve the situation at second base. The only Major League ready player of the trio is another light-hitting second baseman: Blake DeWitt. Now, Dewitt will have to split time with Fontenot and Baker at second base for the rest of the year, once again showing the Cubs are proficient in stock-piling mediocre middle infielders. (At least DeWitt is young and still has room to grow.) The pitching prospects do bring some promise, however. Kyle Smit and Brett Wallach have both posted impressive numbers on the lower levels of the minors leagues and are 22 and 21 years old, respectively.
The trade saves the Cubs about $5 million, but the team was unable to move any more players. The Cubs had agreed to a trade with the Los Angeles Angels that would’ve sent the aging Derrek Lee to Anaheim, but the first baseman used his no-trade clause to block the deal.
I’m a little disappointed that the team was not more active at the deadline, but we knew that a trade involving any of the high-priced players like Alfonso Soriano, Kosuke Fukudome, or Carlos Zambrano was going to be next to impossible. One silver lining is that all three of those players should clear waivers easily, so there’s still yet time to work out something else.
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Written by Eddie Kim