Yesterday the news broke that the Chicago Cubs decided to free up some money by trading their ultimate utility man Mark DeRosa to the Cleveland Indians for three young pitchers. The only way that this trade would make any sense from the Cubs' perspective is that they are looking to clear salary space on the payroll for a big-time addition.
DeRosa is entering the last year of his contract, and is owed $5.5M. That is money well spent, seeing DeRosa played in 149 games last season and came up with a line of .285/21/87/103 for a guy who played just about every position on the diamond for the Cubbies last year. He should add a bit of an offensive spark to a Cleveland team that suddenly couldn't hit its way out of a paper bag. DeRosa also can exert a veteran influence on the young Indians infield, as well as replace the offensively-challenged Josh Barfield in the every-day lineup. While DeRosa won't be able to match Barfield's appearances on "Web Gems", he will easily make up for the drop-off in flashy leather with a solid bat in the top half of the lineup.
In addition, the Cubs had a plethora of middle infielders with DeRosa, Ryan Theriot, Mike Fontenot, and Ronny Cedeno who all deserved plenty of playing time.
The combination of this trade, along with the rumored to be almost-done deal that would send Jason Marquis to the Colorado Rockies for Luis Vizcaino, freeing up approximately another $8M of payroll, would presumably allow the Cubs to sign someone like Milton Bradley to play right field and add a left-handed bat to the lineup.
Ultimately I think the trade will work out for both teams, as you can expect DeRosa's numbers to be roughly the same as they were last year, maybe a little bit higher if Victor Martinez and Travis Hafner can remember how to hit again.