The Chicago Cubs are suffering through a disappointing stretch, marred by a struggling offense, inconsistent middle and backend relief, and questionable leadership at the hands of Tom Ricketts, Theo Epstein. The starting rotation and ever-patient northside faithful have been the sole glimmers of hope for the young, yet telling season.
With a little over two months remaining before the trade deadline, the Cubs must have a definitive plan of action in order to come out of the deadline with a legitimate chance of securing a playoff spot.
While a playoff run seems improbable at this point in the season, the Cubs may have a chance given a successful trade deadline and a proactive change in clubhouse demeanor following three straight losing seasons.
A successful trade deadline would see the Cubs either trading Matt Garza and/or another veteran player who may be of interest to contending clubs.
Following a successful third rehab start on Thursday for Triple-A Iowa, Garza is projected to rejoin the team Tuesday night, his first appearance in nearly 10 months.
While Garza would add veteran leadership and skill to a rotation that has already exceeded in terms of ability, the lack of offensive run support coupled with the fact that Garza is eligible for free agency following the season suggests that a trade would be in the club’s best interest.
Though injuries have hurt his value since last year’s trade deadline, Garza may be the preeminent arm available come the deadline.
Colorado, Texas, and Washington are clubs in need of rotation depth and could pose as potential suitors of Garza. At this point, Garza serves as the Cubs’ best option in landing a prospect that could help the club in its rebuilding phase.
Pitchers Scott Baker, Scott Feldman, and Carlos Marmol, in addition to outfielders David DeJesus and Nate Schierholtz, are eligible for free agency following the season, and may serve as key additions for contending clubs interested in bolstering their roster for the late season stretch.
Although Alfonso Soriano remains a name rumored to be a key trading chip for the Cubs, the veteran outfielder is signed through 2014 and may serve a paramount role for the team as a clubhouse leader for the rebuilding road ahead.
For now, the Cubs look to the long road ahead and must plan accordingly in the coming months before the trade deadline.