Cubs land Deadline Day’s biggest catch in Lawton

By Jim Callis

July 31, 2005

Deadline Day was fairly uneventful, with just four trades, none of them monumental. The Cubs made the biggest pickup on Sunday, getting Matt Lawton from the Pirates for Jody Gerut in an exchange of outfielders who played together on the Indians in 2004.

Cleveland traded Lawton to Pittsburgh in December for Arthur Rhodes. He was having a typical Matt Lawton season for the Pirates, hitting .276/.382/.438 with 10 homers, 44 RBIs and 16 steals in 100 games. A two-time all-star, Lawton has solid power, speed and plate discipline. He has slipped defensively after knee and shoulder surgeries in recent years. A pending free agent, Lawton is making $7.25 million in 2005, the final season in a four-year, $27 million contract. In 1,282 career games, he has batted .269/.371/.422 with 135 homers, 621 RBIs and 163 steals.

Gerut, 27, had joined the Cubs just 13 days earlier in a trade with the Indians for another outfielder, Jason Dubois. Gerut went just 1-for-12 with Chicago, dropping his season totals to .260/.345/.360 with one homer and 12 RBIs in 54 games. He broke into the majors with an impressive .279/.336/.494 rookie season in 2003 but hasn’t shown the same power since. He tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee last September, and didn’t return to Cleveland’s lineup until mid-May. He’s a line-drive hitter who’s going to have to find a way to incorporate more power or walks in his game to be productive offensively. He has average speed and arm strength, and he’s capable of playing all three outfield positions. Gerut likely will be eligible for arbitration after this season with two-plus years of service time. He’s a career .265/.336/.437 hitter with 34 homers and 138 RBIs in 315 games.