Now that Rizzo is with the big league team, how long until Jackson gets called up? Does it make it easier if Alfonso Soriano is traded?
– Matthew W., St. Peters, Mo.
Jackson’s promotion has nothing to do with Soriano, but depends on whether Jackson can show he’s earned a spot on the big league team. In 75 games, he’s hitting .254 with 11 homers, 16 doubles and nine triples. Jackson has an OPS of .822, but has also struck out 111 times. In a three-game stretch from June 22-24, Jackson was 4-for-12, scored four runs, hit three homers, walked three times and struck out six times. Cubs manager Dale Sveum has been keeping tabs on Jackson’s at-bats and likes the outfielder’s bat speed, quickness and athleticism. But the strikeouts are a problem.”It’s very alarming,” Sveum said. “It’s almost a strange occurrence how many there are. Even if he’s 3-for-5, the outs are strikeouts. … He’s on pace to strike out 200 times in a Minor League season, which is not easy to do.”
Matt Garza, RHP: Grade A trade bait, given that the in-season need for starting assistance is always abundant, and Garza, under arbitration control through 2013, is more than just a short-term solution. The Cubs do have the option of retaining and extending Garza, who is 3-6 with a 4.06 ERA, but his timetable for pay raises and their timetable for contention might not mesh. And if the interest in a guy who has had success in the American League East is overwhelming, who are they to say no?
Ryan Dempster, RHP: Everything was aligning for a Dempster deal, as he was compiling, wins aside, his best statistical season since 2008 and had already begun discussions with Epstein about potential scenarios. Then Dempster, who is 3-3 with a 2.11 ERA in 12 starts, suffered a sore lat mid-month, so any deal will have to wait until after he comes off the disabled list. As it stands, he might not be back before the All-Star break.
Alfonso Soriano, LF: Here’s one instance in which the monetary costs to get a deal done would be punitive, but it might be worth it. Soriano is owed roughly $45 million through 2014, and the Cubs would have to foot the vast majority of that bill to move him. But as the Zambrano deal demonstrated, the Cubs’ main motivation is talent acquisition, not fiscal frugality. Soriano is a free swinger best suited for the AL at this point, but he provides power and consistency against left-handed pitching.
LaHair, 1B/RF: A 29-year-old late bloomer who waited a long time for his first real Major League opportunity, LaHair opened a lot of eyes earlier this year. Whether or not the Cubs dangle him rests in their own internal evaluation — would they be “selling high” (his bat has cooled over the past two months and he’s not trusted against lefties) or simply selling LaHair short? Either way, there might be interest.
Castro, SS: A long shot for a swap, given that he’s under wraps through 2016 and has become a key contributor at a cornerstone position. The Cubs would have to be overwhelmed. We must not rule out the possibility, however faint that they will be.
Samardzija, RHP: Another long shot, as he’s under contractual control through 2015. The Castro comment applies, but Samardzija’s struggles this month obviously don’t help his value.