After suspending Milton Bradley for the rest of the season, the Cubs have made official what was already assumed – they’ll be dumping him on whatever team is willing to take the largest portion of his contract this winter. That will also put them back in the market for an outfielder. Not to throw salt in an open wound, but perhaps they should call the Orioles about Felix Pie.
The busted Cubs prospect is thriving in Baltimore of late, as he’s gotten regular playing time the last five weeks and making it pay off. Since August 14th, Pie is hitting .293/.366/.576, showing patience (12 walks in 112 PA) and power (13 of his 29 hits have been for extra bases) and finally living up to the potential he was known for in the minor leagues. With this late season surge, Pie has raised his overall line for the year to a respectable .258/.326/.436, making him essentially a league average hitter. That’s pretty nifty for a 24-year-old quality defensive outfielder.
Pie’s future in Baltimore appears limited, however. With Adam Jones and Nick Markakis locking down two outfield spots, Pie’s only hope for playing time is to beat out Nolan Reimold for the left field job, or more likely, to find some kind of job-sharing role that gives him a few hundred plate appearances per season. Given his upside, it’s way too early to pigeonhole Pie into some kind of fourth outfielder role, so he’ll likely have more value to another club than he will to the O’s. That makes him a pretty obvious trade candidate this winter.
Perhaps the Cubs won’t want to go down that road again – after all, reacquiring him would be tantamount to admitting that the series of deals that netted them Aaron Heilman was a mistake. But for a team in need of a young, cheap center fielder with upside, Pie is going to be an intriguing option this winter.