The Kansas City Star reported that the Cubs are targeting Royals outfielder Mark Teahen as a possible solution.
The Cubs are looking for someone who can handle the tricky winds and tough sun in right and also swing from the left side with power. The free-agent candidates available, such as Bobby Abreu, Adam Dunn and Raul Ibanez, don't appear to be good fits.
Abreu, 34, is a contact hitter and has played in the National League. Those are both pluses. Ibanez, 36, has averaged 24 homers over the last five seasons and hit 23 this year with 110 RBIs and a .293 average. Plus, he knows Cubs manager Lou Piniella, having played for him in Seattle. Dunn, 29, an all-or-nothing type player, simply isn't a good prospect for right field.
Teahen could be a lower-cost solution. According to the Kansas City Star, the Cubs and Royals talked earlier this month, but those discussions stalled when the Cubs were negotiating with the San Diego Padres about a possible deal for Jake Peavy. The Cubs wanted to hang onto some of the young players like Felix Pie and Ronny Cedeno if needed to acquire Peavy.
With Dempster settled, the Cubs are tackling their next item on the check list. Teahen, 27, batted .255 with 15 homers, 31 doubles and 59 RBIs in 149 games with the Royals. He played outfield, first and third, and also struck out 131 times and had a .313 on-base percentage.
The Cubs have been interested in Royals outfielder David DeJesus but, according to the Star, appear open to acquiring Teahen, who could make $3 million-plus through arbitration or a negotiated deal in 2009.
The Royals prefer to keep DeJesus because he could shift to left field if they acquire a center fielder. The newspaper said sources on both sides say talks remain in the initial stages but acknowledge that could change in coming days.
If Kosuke Fukudome is switched to center field, as Piniella has said is one possibility, he'd have to shade quite a bit to help out the corner if Abreu or Ibanez are in right.
Another free agent available is switch-hitter Milton Bradley. He batted .321 with 22 homers and 77 RBIs in 126 games with the Rangers, hitting .312 against right-handers and .341 against lefties. He played only 20 games in the outfield. However, the Cubs have to determine if Bradley can stay healthy and whether he'd be motivated.
Fukudome may not have provided much offense in the second half, but he saved runs with his defensive play. Piniella could take advantage of his versatility as well as Mark DeRosa's, who made 32 starts in right, and rotate them with whoever is acquired.
The Cubs do have Pie and Micah Hoffpauir in house. If Fukudome does play center, Pie becomes possible trade bait. Hoffpauir can hit, but finding a spot for him to play defensively is problematic. The Royals may be interested in Pie, who batted .223 in 260 at-bats with the Cubs over the last two years. Pie is out of options and isn't likely to be eligible for arbitration until after 2010.
Another name mentioned as possible trade bait is Cedeno, who is eligible for arbitration for the first time after batting .269 last season in 99 games.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.