In light of the recent rumors swirling around DLee and Nady, I thought it would be interesting to take a look at just what options the Cubs had for 1B in 2011. The Cubs are not a seller just yet, and if they became a seller there is no guarantee that Lee would be traded. However, Lee is in the last year of his contract and may not be back with the Cubs next season anyway. He's a tricky case for Arb, because he's having a down year with the bat and teams may not value him as much. However, that cuts both ways because he's playing himself out of being a type-A free agent. As a type-B free agent, teams would not have to give up a draft pick for signing him and may actually be more likely to sign him for his glove at first (and with the hope that his bat returns to form). At any rate, the options at first for next year in each of the three main categories (FA, internal, trade) are stated below.
Lance Berkman (club option for 2011, unlikely to be exercised)
If and only if the Cubs fall completely out of contention, I’d like to see Soriano get semi-regular time at first to see how well he handles it. If it looks like he could improve over the winter to be a decent first baseman, then that would be my first choice.
My second choice would be to go out and get Gaby Sanchez. It won’t be long before Logan Morrison pushes him out of the picture, so the fish will probably be interested in moving him this year or during the off-season. This season he’ll be 27; he’s decent defensively and at the plate. The only downsides with him are that he bats right-handed and the Marlins may want a lot in return.
After those two options, offering Lee arb seems like the best thing to do. One year of Lee at first wouldn’t hurt if he accepted, and if he declines so much the better. In the decline scenario, I’d like to see the Cubs wait out the FA market and get someone for one year and as little $$$ as possible.
As far as the trade targets go, I don’t really see any of those guys happening. Uggla would probably be pretty good, but someone else would probably be willing to pay a lot more to get him at second than I would care to pay to get him at first. I wouldn’t mind seeing a move made for Davis, though his ability to make contact is worrisome. Alonso would be ideal, but there’s no way the Reds deal him to a division foe. Gordon would be interesting, but it’s unlikely he’s available just yet as the Royals like his progress in left. Ka’aihue is one of those “it” guys that people always throw out as a trading target, but if he’s as bad defensively as I’ve read (I’ve never seen him play) then I wouldn’t want him. Hoffpauir would be my choice if the Cubs wanted to go with poor defense at first (it has been pointed out that Hoff's D isn't that bad, but I still think he's kind of a worst case or injury scenario).
What say you?