Cubs’ Ramirez may be open to trade; Fukudome sent to Indians
By GORDON WITTENMYER firstname.lastname@example.org July 28, 2011 11:32PM
‘‘They come to me with a trade, we’ll see,’’ previously trade-resistant Aramis Ramirez said Thursday after long insisting he wouldn't waive his no-trade rights if the Cubs wanted to deal him. | Scott Boehm~Getty Images
Updated: November 2, 2011 12:44AM
MILWAUKEE — Keep the moving van running. The Cubs aren’t done dealing if they can help it.
In fact, despite being stuck with several nearly untradeable contracts, they may have gained a valuable trading piece when third baseman Aramis Ramirez seemed to soften his stance on waiving his no-trade rights.
A few hours after the Cubs traded Kosuke Fukudome for a pair of prospects Thursday, Ramirez backed down from nearly two months of insisting he would not allow the Cubs to trade him. He suggested that signs of a rebuilding phase would make him reconsider.
‘‘They come to me with a trade, we’ll see. But no one has talked to me about it,’’ he said.
Ramirez recently told team officials he wants to stay in Chicago.
‘‘That’s no secret,’’ he said. ‘‘Everybody knows that. But I also understand this is a business. I don’t know which way they want to go, and if they’re looking to rebuild, I can’t fit in. So we’ll see.’’
The Los Angeles Angels could be first in line for Ramirez, who has been one of the hottest hitters in baseball the last month, including nine homers and 23 RBI in July.
Ramirez emphasized he hasn’t been asked by general manager Jim Hendry or anyone else in authority to waive his no-trade rights. He joked, ‘‘Nobody wants me, man. They want good players.’’
But even he knows he shoots to the top of the list of difference-making trading chips if he allows it.
‘‘Jim hasn’t talked to me about trading me, or — who’s the other guy? [Crane] Kenney? Or the Rickettses,’’ he said. ‘‘It’s only in the media, speculation that this team or that team wants Ramirez.’’
Hendry is exploring other trade possibilities involving players who aren’t in next year’s plans and whose departures could open up spots for prospects. But no-trade clauses beyond Ramirez’s — and tepid interest in most cases — could extend that process well into the August waiver period.
‘‘We’re going to keep looking at everything. It’s hard to predict,’’ Hendry said. ‘‘There’s a lot of things that can’t be done during the season when you’re this far out of it. Some things you’d like to do, and if we can whittle away at it, move a few other people that we know aren’t coming back, we’ll look into that. We won’t be moving anybody that has a bright future for us just to make deals.’’
Fukudome, one of the Cubs’ biggest free-agent busts, said he was approached near the All-Star break about waiving his limited no-trade rights for a possible deal and consented to the Cleveland Indians earlier this week.
The Cubs sent almost $4 million to Cleveland, to offset the $4.7 million still owed to Fukudome, in a move designed as much to open a position for prospect Tyler Colvin to audition for next year.
‘‘It was a difficult decision to make, not simply because I was here for a long time but also because it’s a different league,’’ Fukudome, 34, said through his interpreter. ‘‘[The Indians] are a team competing for first place and also a team that had interest in me. This is an opportunity for me to restart and get going.’’
The Cubs promoted Colvin from Class AAA on Thursday and plan to have him in today’s lineup against the St. Louis Cardinals.
‘‘This will give [Colvin] a chance to sort of rectify the beginning of the season and give him a steady chance to play,’’ Hendry said, ‘‘so moving forward, we can make the proper decisions on him and he can find out and show us where he’s at moving into 2012.’’
Colvin, who came off the bench and struck out to end a 4-2 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers on Thursday, said, ‘‘I’m ready for whatever Skip throws at me. It’s a great opportunity.’’
Meanwhile, the Fukudome trade closes the chapter, finally, on the Cubs’ infamous search for that left-handed-hitting ‘‘missing piece’’ to their three-and-out playoff teams in 2007 and ‘08.
After the Cubs were swept by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the first round of the ’07 playoffs, Fukudome was targeted — at four years, $48 million. But after a steady downward spiral that began in May and relegated him to backup duty by the end of the season, manager Lou Piniella raised the cry again for a lefty hitter, which turned into team-killing Milton Bradley.
‘‘Obviously, he did do some good things here,’’ Hendry said of Fukudome. ‘‘But obviously there were some tough times, too, and some bad endings to the first couple of years. . . . In a perfect world, we thought the bat would have played at a little larger scale when we signed him, as everybody else did that pursued him.’’