Marshall trade set to pay off for Cubs in '13

CHICAGO – While former Cubs reliever Sean Marshall returns to Chicago on Tuesday with his playoff-bound club in tow, the Cubs are looking to get a positive return on their offseason trade when 2013 rolls around.

The Cubs parted ways with a solid left-handed reliever, but by next season two of the players they received in return could be playing key roles. Travis Wood, who started Monday, figures to be in the starting rotation, while outfielder Dave Sappelt could get a roster spot as well.

Wood has had a roller-coaster ride this season, but his nine strikeouts Monday showed that he has the stuff to be a middle-of-the rotation starter. He could end up with the No. 3 spot on the starting staff next year when all is said and done.

With Alfonso Soriano, Brett Jackson and David DeJesus set to occupy the Cubs starting outfield next season, Sappelt has his eyes on the old Reed Johnson role of fourth outfielder and key right-handed bat against left-handers.

In a short amount of time, he has shown what he can do by posting a .310 batting average since he was recalled when rosters expanded in September.

“Woody has obviously mad e a lot of adjustments and done a nice job since he was called up and been back,” manager Dale Sveum said. “But Sappelt is probably swinging the bat as good as anybody right now. He’s showing and doing the things we thought.

“We knew there was a bat there but we need him to be focused and base running and playing defense and all that as well because there is a bat there that can play in the big leagues and obviously we’re seeing that.”

If Wood can be a solid innings eater for years to come and Sappelt plays a key bench role, the Cubs can start to swing the winter trade in their favor.

“(Sappelt) should be able to fill (the Johnson role),” Sveum said. “He has some speed, he has power, drives the ball gives you good at-bats, is a good fastball hitter. All those things come into play when you make those decisions. But he has the ability and bat speed and the ability to play in the big leagues.”