Cubs won't trade core players

CHICAGO -- Chicago Cubs general manager Jim Hendry seemed to bristle at the use of the term “fire-sale.” It’s important, however, not to interpret his comments on Wednesday as a sign that the Cubs will not be moving anyone as the trade deadline approaches.

“People like to float names of your better players that make no sense to trade,” Hendry said. “If we make moves, it will be designed to make us better for the future.”

It’s obvious that Starlin Castro and Darwin Barney are unavailable, Hendry seemed to be making a bigger point. Players like Carlos Marmol, Sean Marshall, and Geovany Soto, who are under the team’s control for a few more years and should still produce at a high level during that time, aren’t likely to be moved either.

“There’re a lot of people [on the roster] that you’re still capable of winning with down the road that are not free agents,” Hendry said. “You certainly have control of their contracts for years that we would have no interest in trading.”

Of course, trading a player like Marmol or Soto would give the Cubs their best chance at restocking their farm system with top of the line talent. However, it would also indicate that the Cubs are headed for a complete rebuild, a direction the organization doesn’t seem to want to take.

Alfonso Soriano and Carlos Zambrano are two names frequently discussed by the fans and media in trade speculation. Both players have hefty amounts remaining on their contracts -- Zambrano has one season left at $18 million, while Soriano has three more years at the same price. It’s unlikely any team would be willing to part with a legitimate prospect for either player due to those large contracts. It would also be foolish to think that the Cubs would be willing to just give either player away for no value in return for the sole purpose of shedding their contracts.

There are players on the roster whom the team would be willing to move. Three in particular could bring back a decent return. Kosuke Fukudome (.385 OBP and finally producing through June), Aramis Ramirez (batting .390 with four home runs in his last 10 games), and Carlos Pena (.377 OBP with 17 home runs since May 3rd) are all expected to be free agents at the end of the season. Anyone of the three could be the missing piece that puts a playoff contender over the edge. They could also fetch a solid prospect in return.

Hendry made it clear that he intends to build around the likes of Castro, Soto and Matt Garza. Now it’s up to him to make some shrewd moves to put the right players around them and get the Cubs back in the playoffs as soon as possible.