The Chicago Cubs need more offensive production from their third baseman. In 2012, the Cubs had three players who shared that role. These players include Luis Valbuena, Ian Stewart and Josh Vitters. In 265 at-bats, Valbuena had a .218 batting average with four home runs and 28 RBIs. In 179 at-bats, Stewart had a .201 batting average with five home runs and 17 RBIs. He's coming off wrist surgery. In 99 at-bats, Vitters had a .121 batting average with two home runs and five RBIs. He'll start 2013 at Triple-A Iowa.
How does the free-agent market look? Not much better. Potential free agents include Placido Polanco, Geoff Blum and Eric Chavez. David Wright, Kevin Youkilis, Brandon Inge and Mark Reynolds reportedly have options for 2013.
What's the long-term goal at third base? The organization is high on Javier Baez. They're hoping that he can eventually fill out an infield that includes Anthony Rizzo, Darwin Barney and Starlin Castro. The Cubs should also give Vitters one more chance.
What's the short-term goal at third base? Despite the lack of offensive production, the Cubs could stay with Stewart and Valbuena. They'd probably add another veteran into that mix. Anthony Riccobono of the International Business Times brought up the idea of a potential trade for New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez. Riccobono included the Miami Marlins and Los Angeles Angels as potential suitors.
What's the quick scoop on Rodriguez? At age 37, Rodriguez is on the downside of his career. His wins above replacement rating (WAR) has either stayed the same or dropped in each of the past five seasons. In 2012, Rodriguez had a .272 batting average with 18 home runs, 57 RBIs and a .353 on-base percentage (OBP). Although Rodriguez has a career .300 batting average, he hasn't hit above .286 in any of the past four seasons. And while he has 647 career home runs, he hasn't hit more than 18 homers in either of the past two seasons.
Rodriguez has five years and $114 million remaining on his contract. He also has a no-trade clause. Rodriguez insists that he'll stay with the Yankees. That doesn't mean much. He also insisted that he never did steroids. In 2009, Rodriguez admitted that he used steroids from 2001 through 2003
Statistically, Rodriguez would offer more than any other third baseman in the organization. The Yankees would likely cover most of the contract. No team would pay an average of $22.8 million for a player whose contract won't expire until he's age 42.
Let's just kill any rumor with Rodriguez and the Cubs. If Jim Hendry was still the general manager, then this might happen. With Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer, there's no chance that they're foolish or desperate enough to consider this.
There are so many reasons that such a trade would never happen. Unless the National League starts using designated hitters, Rodriguez must play defense. While the Cubs could use more veteran leadership for their younger players, Rodriguez offers nothing but negatives in that department. Since Rodriguez has spent his entire career with American League teams, he's mostly unfamiliar with National League ballparks. He's a public relations disaster waiting to happen.
What if the Yankees are so desperate to send him away that they pay all $114 million of his contract in any trade? What if they're willing to swap Rodriguez for Alfonso Soriano and pay the final three years of Rodriguez's contract (2015-17)? With both scenarios, it doesn't matter. The Cubs still can't afford to put their young players around Rodriguez.
Alex Rodriguez epitomizes the type of player that doesn't belong in the Cubs organization. He doesn't belong in the lineup. He doesn't belong in the infield alongside Castro. His ego doesn't belong in a clubhouse full of young players. He's not healthy for the new culture that the Cubs are trying to establish. Simply put, Rodriguez doesn't belong anywhere near the North Side.
The Chicago White Sox can have him though. Be my guest.
Joshua Huffman grew up in Michigan's Upper Peninsula as a Green Bay Packers and Chicago Cubs enthusiast. He immediately gained an admiration for Cubs fans after watching numerous games on WGN during the mid-90s. His favorite Cubs moment was Kerry Wood's(notes) 1-hitter, 20K extravaganza that was only denied of a no-hitter by Kevin Orie's defensive blunder. As a Packers and Cubs fan, he suffered through Steve Bartman and "4th & 26" in a span of three months. HERE is his Twitter.
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