Friday, February 23, 2007

Jacque Jones Trade Rumor

The boys over at The Cub Reporter are discussing a rumored trade that would send Geoff Jenkins to the Cubs in exchange for OF Jacque Jones. The rumor apparently was uttered by former Cubs pitcher and broadcaster Steve Stone on “The Score” sports talk radio station in Chicago.

At first blush, this deal didn’t make sense to me. Trading these two guys for each other would be pretty much of a wash. Both players have a difficult time hitting left-handed pitching. Jones provides more speed, is probably better defensively, is a year younger, and is $3 million cheaper than Jenkins for the 2007 season (he is signed for $5 million for 2008).

Jenkins is a more patient hitter, puts up better offensive numbers, has more power (2006 notwithstanding), and strikes out far less. He also has a better throwing arm.

Another difference between the two players is that Jones is coming off a terrific year and Jenkins is coming off a down year (although not as down as people would have you think). In addition, Jenkins looks a little like Brett Favre and Jones doesn’t. I don’t know if that will matter in the end, but it’s something to consider.

So why would the two teams make this trade? From the Cubs perspective, Jones allegedly asked for a trade after the 2006 season because of some racist remarks that were directed towards him by some Neanderthal Cubs fans. His wife (or mother, I can’t remember) also got into it with some fans. Cubs GM Jim Hendry apparently told Jones he would trade him if he could, but now reports are coming out of Cubs camp that Jones never requested the trade. Who knows?

By adding Jenkins, the Cubs would be able to grant Jones’ wish (if in fact it is his wish) and would get a slight upgrade offensively. Jenkins would be more expensive in 2007 (what do the Cubs care about money?), and then they’d have a club option on him for 2008. The Cubs could either buy him out for $500,000 after the 2007 season and they’d be done with him, or they could pick up his option for $9 million. With Felix Pie expected to be ready late in 2007 or at the beginning of the 2008 season, my guess is that the Cubs would cut Jenkins loose.

What’s in it for the Brewers? One thing is money. Rather than paying Jenkins $7 million this year and then buying him out for $500,000 at the end of the season, they could have Jones for $4 million this year and $5 million next year. That means it would only cost the Brewers $1.5 million more to have Jones for two years as it would to have Jenkins for just one year. What a bargain.

Trading one outfielder for another one really doesn’t help the Brewers logjam issues in the outfield, but it doesn’t make them worse either. Plus, with Jones more reasonable contract, it would likely be easier to trade him (although he does have a limited no-trade clause).

Also, and on this one I’m just guessing, Jones may be more accepting of a platoon assignment with Kevin Mench (or Gabe Gross)than Jenkins is. Right now for the Brewers, both Jenkins and Mench are saying they would rather be traded than platoon. Yost has made it clear that he is going to do what is best for the team regardless of whether Jenkins or Mench think it’s a good idea. But maybe it would be easier to move Jenkins than fight with him about the possible platoon.

Finally, I don’t know if Milwaukee is a place that Jones has indicated he would be willing to go as part of his limited no-trade clause, but he has a very good reason to approve the trade. It’s a little confusing, so I’ll let AZ Phil from The Cub Reporter explain it:

“If the Brewers are not on Jones’ “no go” list (or even if they are), there is one reason why Jacque might be THRILLED with such a deal. That’s because he signed his three-year contract with the Cubs under the old CBA, and as such, if he is traded prior to the last year of his contract, he can demand a trade during the FA filing period immediately following the season he gets traded. And if he doesn’t get traded by March 15th, he has the option to become a FA (and there is no compensation required for such a player, even if the player is rated by Elias as a Type “A”).

"So let’s say the Brewers whisper to Jones that if he agrees to be traded to MIL, and if he were to then demand a trade (per the old CBA) after the 2007 season, the Brewers will agree to NOT trade him, which would allow Jones instead to have the option to be a FA during Spring Training 2008 (3-15-2008).

"While mid-March is not the optimum time to be an MLB FA, it still might net Jacque a new FA contract with a 2008 salary in excess of the $5M he was supposed to get under the terms of the deal he signed with the Cubs, especially if the other MLB clubs know four months in advance that he will be a FA at that time (just as everybody knew well in advance that Javier Vazquez had demanded to be traded from the D’backs after the 2005 season, and would be a FA on 3-15-2006 if he wasn’t traded).”

In other words, Jones could potentially have millions of reasons to want this deal to go through.

At the moment, this is just a rumor. But where there’s smoke, there’s fire. Except when there isn’t…


At 3:10 PM, Anonymous Steve said...

In my eyes, this trade seems like a wash. Both hit for some power (Jenkins might have more). Both are defensively challenged. As many Cubs fans show hatred for JJ and sometimes call for his head, I think that he is a pretty nice player. No, I didn't like the ten foot spikes he threw in the outfield. But he said at the end of the season that he had shoulder problems and maybe he can throw better this year. Or maybe it is just an excuse for his miserable defense last year. But if this happened I wouldn't be angry or happy. But I would not be happy if Jenkins was a disappointment and JJ led the Brewers to the top of the NL Central. If he wants traded, first I would look to trade him out of the division if possible. Also, we could trade Jacque for something else other than an outfielder. We could get a pitcher or something and put Floyd in right and start Murton everyday in left. That would be my plan if we had to trade JJ.

At 8:19 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would make that deal in a second. And as far as Jacque hurting the Cubs, we know that all you have to do is keep the ball down and in to him and he doesn't even come close to hitting it.


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