The Cubs were one of the busiest teams in baseball as the trade deadline came and passed. Geovany Soto, Paul Maholm, Reed Johnson and Ryan Dempster were all moved within 24 hours of the 4 p.m. ET cutoff Tuesday. Matt Garza and Alfonso Soriano were being shopped, but both will remain in Cub uniforms for now.
In return for the exports, the Cubs received a load of prospects in an effort to continue the rebuilding process. The club has been performing well of late, going 19-11 since June 25, the day before Anthony Rizzo was called up.
With the loss of talented veterans, the next two months don't look as bright, but there are a few things Cubs fans can expect as the 2012 season heads down the stretch.
Soriano's Last Day as a Cub
Alfonso Soriano's name came up in a couple of rumors before the deadline, most notably in a trade to the Detroit Tigers. The move was not made, but the deal between the two teams may not be dead yet, according to USA Today's Bob Nightengale.
The 36-year-old outfielder is having a solid year, hitting .270 with 19 homers and 61 RBI. His performance isn't the problem, though; the issue is getting rid of his contract. The eight-year, $136 million mega-deal promises Soriano $18 million each of the next two years, as well as a big chunk of cash for the remainder of 2012.
The undesirable contract does mean that he can clear waivers without a problem, leaving the possibility of a trade open assuming the Cubs can take on enough of the financial burden.
Even if the club is left paying the majority of his contract, moving Soriano will be a major step for the organization. Cubs fans will be able to breathe a sigh of relief, and the team can move forward in the rebuilding process.
Increase in Garza's Market Value
Matt Garza was seen as one of the top pitchers on the market until a triceps injury on July 21 put a damper on his season and his trade value.
The Blue Jays, Reds and Rangers were all rumored landing spots for the 28-year-old. In the end, the Cubs weren't getting enough in return and let the deadline pass without moving Garza. There is currently no extension in the works, so the team will likely shop him in the offseason and get what they can.
Garza's market value will rely in large part on his performance for the remainder of the year. He is slated to return August 7, but expect the Cubs to take every precaution necessary before sending him out on the mound again. A healthy and effective Garza could drive a handful of teams into an offseason bidding war.
Of course, an extension is always an option if the Cubs decide to go that route, but it looks as though the they are ready to move him given the right price.
In the past two days, the Cubs lost four veteran players and gained a handful of minor leaguers. They are now even more inexperienced, and the last two months may tell a lot about the future of the organization.
Anthony Rizzo, Starlin Castro and Jeff Samardzija are the main building blocks in the Cubs' rebuilding efforts. Everyone else will be fighting for the opportunity to join the club's future plans, especially when the rosters expand to 40 players in September.
One of the biggest players to watch is Josh Vitters, provided he gets the September call-up. Vitters has been the heir to the third base job since he was drafted third overall in 2007, but his slow progression and inconsistencies in the minors have left Cubs fans impatient.
The third base position is one of the weakest positions in talent and in depth for the Cubs. Luis Valbuena is the current everyday starter, and Cubs third basemen are batting an atrocious .211 on the year.
One of the most intriguing players the Cubs dealt for this week was 3B Christian Villanueva. Acquired in the Ryan Dempster deal, Villanueva will not see the majors this year but may have a significant impact on Vitters and the third base position for the club down the road.
Brett Jackson is another player to watch out for. Widely regarded as the top prospect in the organization, Jackson has had a bittersweet season playing for the Iowa Cubs.
He has 15 home runs and 24 steals in 101 games but is also batting just .253 with 150 strikeouts.
The outfielder will need to work on his plate discipline if he wants to be successful in the majors, but for now, a late-season call-up is still possible.
August and September may not be pretty as the Cubs put a sub-par product on the field, but the end of the year will come with some excitement as new faces attempt to solidify their role in the Cubs' future plans.
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