Cubs utility man Jeff Baker would be a perfect fit for several contenders, offering a solid right-handed bat and the ability to play five positions.
Only problem is, he’s not available.
The Cubs do not intend to trade Baker, envisioning him as part of their team for next season, according to rival executives. The Red Sox and Indians are among the teams that showed interest in him, sources say.
Baker, 30, earns $1.175 million and will remain affordable in 2012, his final year of salary arbitration before becoming a free agent.
The Cubs are under no pressure to shed payroll, sources say. GM Jim Hendry also is mindful of fielding a competitive team next season, even though he may not return.
Thus, the Cubs will not look to trade players under club control in ’12 and beyond — players such as right-hander Matt Garza, who is evolving into the team’s No. 1 starter.
The team is far more likely to move potential free agents such as outfielders Kosuke Fukudome and Reed Johnson.
Third baseman Aramis Ramirez’s $16 million club option for next season becomes guaranteed if he is traded — and Ramirez has said he will not waive his no-trade clause.
Right-hander Carlos Zambrano, earning $17.875 million this season and $18 million next season, has said he will waive his no-trade protection, but the team has been unable to find a taker.
— Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi