The Cubs found a soft landing spot for Darwin Barney, sending the Gold Glove second baseman into the middle of a pennant race with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The Cubs kicked in a cash consideration on Monday and will get a player to be named later. That began what could be a busy 72-hour window leading up to Thursday’s non-waiver trade deadline.
“People don’t really think about it here,” veteran catcher John Baker said after a 4-1 victory over the Colorado Rockies. “One of our strengths is sometimes our lack of intelligence when it comes to what’s going on in the baseball world.”
Baker was in a good mood after helping guide Tsuyoshi Wada through seven innings at Wrigley Field. Wada, the 33-year-old lefty from Japan, got the ceremonial beer shower after his first big-league win.
The Cubs (43-61) and Rockies (43-62) could be battling for next year’s No. 1 overall pick, but Theo Epstein hinted that he didn’t want to completely blow this team up again. The Cubs president of baseball operations already made his splashy move by trading pitchers Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel to the Oakland A’s on the Fourth of July.
Epstein has talked about the value of continuity and leadership and looking at players with years of club control attached – think infielder Luis Valbuena and outfielders Justin Ruggiano and Chris Coghlan – much differently than an upcoming free agent like super-utility guy Emilio Bonifacio (who went 2-for-4 with two runs scored).
“Everybody seems to think that after they get three or four hits, they’re going to be the next guy that gets traded out of here,” Baker said. “I tend to laugh at that stuff. I’ve been in baseball a long time. I’ve been told I was traded. I’ve been told I was claimed off waivers and it hasn’t happened.
“The most important thing for us is when the lights turn on (and) what happens in between the lines.”
The Cubs began phasing Barney out months ago, so it couldn’t have been a huge surprise when they designated him for assignment last week.
Bonifacio came off the disabled list and needed to be showcased for a potential trade. The Cubs wanted to get a longer look at Arismendy Alcantara, who can play second base and center field and represents the future. Elite prospect Javier Baez has already started moving off shortstop and playing second base at Triple-A Iowa.
The Dodgers began the day leading the National League West by 1.5 games. They already have All-Star second baseman Dee Gordon, high-profile shortstop Hanley Ramirez and versatile infielder Juan Uribe. Barney – who’s under club control through the 2016 season – will give a win-now team some insurance and flexibility.
“Good for him,” Cubs manager Rick Renteria said. “I don’t know if he’s joining their minor-league club, but he was going to land on his feet.”
Renteria doesn’t get too involved with the front office and tries to stay away from all the trade speculation that has surrounded the team since pitchers and catchers reported to spring training. Lefty relievers James Russell and Wesley Wright, who can become free agents after next season, should continue drawing interest.
“We’re trying to win games,” Baker said. “We can’t worry about that stuff. Hopefully, we don’t have anybody else leaving, so we don’t have to be sad again for a couple days, like with Darwin or Jeff and Jason. But those things happen in baseball.”