The Cubs and Baltimore Orioles are stalled in trade talks regarding Roberts, a switch-hitting infielder. One of DeRosa's strongest attributes is his versatility -- he played five different positions in his first season with the Cubs in '07.
"I think [DeRosa] can play everywhere else on the field and play it well, and he wins baseball games for you," Cubs general manager Jim Hendry said during the Winter Meetings when the Roberts rumors started. "None of our pursuit of people is in any way, shape or form a lack of confidence in Mark DeRosa."
When DeRosa heard the rumors, he contacted Hendry. The two have talked more than once this winter.
"I'm on the fence with it," DeRosa said Monday. "My personal opinion is that I find it hard to believe a utility man is as important as an everyday player. He's not. Period."
DeRosa said he understands the Cubs aren't down on him but are looking for another left-handed bat. Piniella wants to give players like third baseman Aramis Ramirez, first baseman Derrek Lee and new right fielder Kosuke Fukudome more days off, so DeRosa would rotate at those positions.
"At the same time," DeRosa said, "I find it hard to believe I'm going to get playing time if you acquire a player of that caliber [as Roberts]. You've got Fukudome in right, you've got Aramis at third, you've got Roberts at second, you've got [Alfonso Soriano] in left. Where am I going to play? That was my question [to Hendry], and that was my approach. It's not like you're acquiring another super utility player [like a Ryan Freel], and we can all bounce around and all give each other days off and all find a happy medium."
When DeRosa signed a three-year deal with the Cubs on Nov. 14, 2006, Hendry said they wanted him to play second base. DeRosa was eager to settle down at one position after being bumped in Atlanta and moved around in Texas. If he starts at second in the regular season opener March 31, it'll be the first time in his career that DeRosa has made consecutive Opening Day starts.
"I'm perfectly content -- and I've said that to Jim [Hendry] -- with Mark," Cubs manager Lou Piniella said Wednesday. "He played very well for us last year. He hit .290, had good on-base percentage -- I was very happy. I know when we signed him we talked about moving him around a little bit. If we went to camp just the way we are with Mark at second base, that's fine with me."
Last season, DeRosa played 93 games at second, 37 at third, one at shortstop, 22 in right, one in left and nine games at first, and batted .293 with 10 homers, 28 doubles and 72 RBIs.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less