After the Detroit Tigers‘ trade of Prince Fielder, the word of the day was flexibility. The move created not only roster flexibility, but payroll flexibility as well. Could there be a move out there like that for the Chicago Cubs?
While he is not taking up much salary space, Darwin Barney could be a trade option in terms of roster flexibility. The Cubs have other infield options, such as Luis Valbuena, Logan Watkins, and Arismendy Alcantara, who was just added to the 40-man roster. The Cubs also have Javier Baez waiting in the wings as the club’s top prospect.
Barney by himself will not be enough for the likes of a David Price, but might the Cubs be able to find a trading partner with the Baltimore Orioles for a starting pitcher? Left hand starting pitchers Brian Matusz and Zach Britton could be expendable for the O’s. Baltimore has Chris Tillman and Miguel Gonzalez penciled into the rotation, and they could also throw highly touted prospects Kevin Gausman and Dylan Bundy into the mix, making the lefties trade bait.
At second base, Brian Roberts is a free agent and Alexi Casilla is currently projected for the spot. But is Casilla an everyday player? With Manny Machado currently working his way back from injury, Casilla could be a viable utility man, with Barney playing the majority at second. Barney will not wow at the plate, but he is a good contact hitter and a gold glove defender.
Chicago already has one former Oriole in the rotation in Jake Arrieta, and this move would add a second. If a deal like this is done, could it then create even more trade talks for Jeff Samardzija? Again, one move creating several options of flexibility.
Matusz and Britton are not blockbuster pieces like Price, but they are both 26-year-old lefties. Both guys have made over 40 starts, but the ERAs are nothing to write home about, both over 4.50. However, those numbers are in the Al East, and moving over to the National League could be a factor in lowering that stat.
Looking toward the future, it appears that Barney’s days in Chicago could be numbered. If the Cubs can find a trade partner, they should jump at the chance at picking up another arm for the staff.
Nick Schaeflein is a Chicago Cubs writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @ptchr2424 or add him to your network on Google.