In this series, I've already examined the major assets of the Cubs team with any reasonable chance of being dealt this July including Jeff Samardzija, Jason Hammel, Luis Valbuena, Justin Ruggiano, Wesley Wright, James Russell, and even Starlin Castro. While I'm sure that the Cubs would move Anthony Rizzo or Jake Arrieta in the right deal, any team ponying up the kind of package that would be required for the team's start power hitter and new ace will not be met. While we'd all accept an offer of Byron Buxton, Alex Meyer, Kohl Stewart, Eddie Rosario, and Brian Dozier for Rizzo (or Arrieta), I think it's safe to say that such an offer isn't forthcoming. It's not particularly worthwhile to investigate what an offer would look like for either member of that pair.
However, there are plenty of other players on the roster that the front office would gladly move for just a relatively minor return. Rather than addressing each possible contender who might be interested in each player, I'm going to give a quick explanation of each player's approximate value. In the final piece of this series to follow, I'll throw out a handful of trades involving the non-Rizzo, non-Arrieta remains.
As you know by now, Barney was designated for assignment to make room for the return of Emilio Bonifacio. We know what Barney is at this point: an all-glove, no-bat middle infielder. His tools exist on the extremes with a sub-.100 ISO, a .290 career on-base percentage, and quite possibly the sweetest second base glove in the game. There's almost no chance that Barney has any real value on the trade market; had the Cubs been able to extract an asset or even obtain some salary relief, they likely would have traded him instead of designating him for assignment. It's possible that some contender will swoop in to provide even miniscule value before his ten days in limbo expire, but don't expect that to happen.
The utility man is finally back from an oblique injury that kept him out for a lengthy period. Unfortunately, unless he finds his early-April bat, he's unlikely to generate much interest. He is fast enough with enough defensive versatility to find a home on the back end of a contender's roster, but the returns are expected to be paltry for a player picked up off the scrap heap this winter with a .080 ISO and a .308 on-base percentage. Bonifacio makes more sense bringing a minimal improvement to a contender, but the Cubs will likely have to foot the bill to get back even someone's 30th-best prospect.
If any contender offers to even absorb some of Schierholtz's remaining salary, the Cubs should jump at the offer. The right fielder has failed the sniff test miserably this year as both his bat speed and plate vision both apparently vanished. Schierholtz's -0.6 WAR ranks 156th of 161 qualifiers while his wRC+ of 49 -- meaning Schierholtz is 51 percent worse than the average Major League hitter -- ranks a rather distant 161st. His batting line in 101 plate appearances since June 10th reads like something out of a horror film: .156/.188/.271 with a 3.0% BB% and 22.8% K%. It's not just bad; it's probably the worst in baseball.
I have long been a fan of Edwin's, but even I recognize that it might be wise to cut bait if a contender will take most of his remaining contract. Thanks to an $8 million signing bonus, Jackson's deal calls for just $22 million for the 2015 and 2016 seasons, and there are plenty of positives in considering a sale. Advanced metrics recognize a drop off for Jackson this year, but not nearly as significant a drop as our eyes might believe. His FIP dropped to 4.27 after four straight years between 3.55 and 3.86. While that shows atrophying production, it is nowhere near as alarming as his ERA spike from 3.79 to 4.03 to 4.98 to this year's 5.61. A career-worst BABIP has hurt Edwin (.345), a number that is fourth-worst among the 94 qualified starting pitchers. Furthermore, his 8.13 K/9 is actually a career-best figure.
However, the alarming figures are there with three in particular screaming out at me. First, his 3.98 BB/9 is his worst rate since 2007 and may portend a return to his out of control youthful days. Second, after showing a solid ability to generate groundball contact over the past few years culminating in a career-best 51.3% last year, he has tumbled to 41.6% this year, his worst rate since 2009. Finally and most alarming, Edwin's line-drive rate has exploded from 16.8% in 2012 to 20.3% last year all the way to 26.3% this year, by far the worst mark of his career. Groundballs turning into line drives is a recipe for disaster.
Edwin is no ace. He's not even a guy you want starting a playoff game. But making 12 starts between now and the end of the season? Yeah, there's still some value there to a team in desperate need of a short-term fix. Although I'm not terribly interested in pegging specific teams in this piece, Edwin's FIP would be second-best among Orioles starters, even if only by a hair. With Ubaldo Jimenez rehabbing in Florida and Miguel Gonzalez sporting a FIP north of 5.00, Edwin could find a home. The Yankees make even more sense what with CC Sabathia, Ivan Nova, Michael Pineda, and Masahiro Tanaka all out with injuries.
After bashing Wood for years during which his ERA well outpaced his peripheral statistics, I finally got on board the Wood train earlier this year. That's just how my timing tends to work out. Wood hasn't been as bad in 2014 as his ERA indicates, but he also wasn't as good as his ERA in 2012 and 2013. In all three years, the gaps have been significant. Wood could certainly be moved in the right package, but I'd definitely expect the Cubs to try hard to move Jackson before really engaging in any Wood speculation. He'd be attractive enough to an acquiring team -- especially one in the National League -- but I imagine that the Cubs value him more highly than many other teams would. A match appears unlikely.
The former starter turned long-man has enjoyed some success this year, although an exceptionally high BABIP in his spot starts has inflated many of his numbers. The advanced metrics suggest that he has been basically the same pitcher regardless of role (3.55 FIP as a starter, 3.48 FIP as a reliever) and he has been reasonably successful in both situations. However, a rough first half BABIP (.369) may have inflated his numbers enough to cause contenders to pass. Villanueva has value as an MLB arm with the ability to eat innings. He's not expensive, though he also isn't cheap with just under $2 million remaining of his 2014 salary. Like so many players on the current roster, he makes more sense with a contender than he does with the Cubs, but he's just not likely to command more than a low-level flyer.
The Cubs would gladly ship out any of their non-prospects holding 40-man roster spots. This list includes, with age in parentheses, Chris Rusin (27), Blake Parker (29), Josh Vitters (25 in a month), Brett Jackson (26 next week), and Ryan Kalish (26). Reserve catcher John Baker would be moved for anything of value and I imagine the front office wouldn't think twice about shipping out Ryan Sweeney even with his eminently affordable deal next year. None of these players would bring any talent in return, only roster spots. Perhaps a hitting coach thinks he can salvage some value from Vitters or Jackson, but even if that's the case, the return might be a handful of peanuts.
Unfortunately for the Cubs, these remaining spare parts just don't carry a lot of intrigue. Part of the nature of being among baseball's worst teams is that the back end of the roster is full of replacement-level (or worse) players. If the team can salvage a few million dollars of salary relief now to carry into the offseason, perhaps that can make the difference between James Shields and Jon Lester. It's certainly worth pursuing.