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Cubs Trade For Michael Barrett

This afternoon, the Cubs acquired Michael Barrett from Oakland for a PTBNL, one day after the A's acquired him from the Expos for a similar price.

I don't know what to make of this, only that it means that either Damian Miller, or more likely Paul Bako, will be let go. Miller is under contract and could be traded, but it seems that the most probable thing is that Bako will be non-tendered this weekend.

If Miller and Barrett are the two catchers, that makes the Cubs an even more extreme right-handed-hitting team than they were before the acquisition of Derrek Lee.

Barrett is a former first-round draft pick who was once one of the top prospects in the Expos organization. He had a decent year in 2002, then regressed badly last year, although, to be fair, he spent a fair amount of 2003 on the disabled list. He has also played third base at the major league level, though not very well, and not at all since the 2000 season.

He is only 27, and this could be a "lightning-in-a-bottle" type of move, depending on:

a) how much it costs to sign Barrett; he made $2.6 million in 2003; and

b) what kind of PTBNL this will cost the ballclub.

One thing this certainly does is preclude any possibility that the Cubs are still after Javy Lopez or Ivan Rodriguez. There is apparently still money in the budget to upgrade some other positions, notably fourth outfielder and a bullpen spot or two, in addition to re-signing Ramon Martinez to back up 2B, SS and 3B, and getting Kerry Wood under contract for three or four years beyond 2004.

This is a low-impact move and if it doesn't cost too much, I suppose it'll work out all right.

(Note: just posted on the Cubs newsgroup that WSCR radio in Chicago is reporting that Damian Miller will be the PTBNL, providing that Barrett signs a 2-3 year deal to keep him out of arbitration. I take this with the usual grain of salt that I take most sports radio reports, but I post it here for interest's sake; if true, it means Barrett becomes the starter, with Bako as backup.)