The Chicago Cubs were one of the busiest teams at the trade deadline this year, exchanging experienced talent for youth in an effort to move along the rebuilding process. Ryan Dempster and Paul Maholm, the Cubs' two strongest pitchers of late, were both moved for prospects, while Garza was on the block but remains in Chicago.
The two departed starters coupled with Garza's current injury means the Cubs will be trying out some young talent over the final two months to evaluate the organization's starting pitching. Here's what we can expect the starting rotation to look like next year.
1. Matt Garza
Though Garza's name came up in Cubs trade rumors earlier this week, the jury is still out on what the club will do with him for next year. There have been no talks of an extension or keeping him around after next year, and he may even be traded when the offseason rolls around. His triceps injury and recent ineffectiveness may keep his market value low going into 2013, though, and he won't be moved unless the price is right.
On Opening Day next season, Matt Garza will still only be 29 years old. He would remain the outright ace of the staff and, depending on the contract situation, it could be his last year with the club. The Cubs still won't be contending in 2013, so Garza would again become a valuable trade chip at the deadline.
2. Jeff Samardzija
Samardzija's road from reliever to starting pitcher has been rocky, but he has shown flashes of brilliance in his 2012 campaign. He was one of the only Cubs that wasn't available at the deadline, showing the high regard in which the organization holds him.
Who should the Cubs go after in the offseason?
He will be 28 next season and will likely take significant strides in only his second year as a starter. He has 121 strikeouts in 120.1 innings thus far and would have a 3.12 ERA if not for two atrocious June starts where he gave up a combined 17 runs.
3. Anibal Sanchez
The Cubs won't have enough talent in their own organization to field a full rotation, so they will go shopping this winter. Among the free agents-to-be is 28-year-old Anibal Sanchez. The guy has a ton of talent but has had a tough year. He was traded from Miami to Detroit last week, and he sports a 4.11 combined ERA in 20 starts.
What the club can do with him is similar to what they did with Maholm—sign him for a couple years and see what they can get out of him. If teams are knocking on the door at the deadline, trade him for prospects. He should be an affordable arm in the offseason.
4. Travis Wood
The lone lefty in the bunch, Wood will only be 26 by the start of next year. He has been extremely shaky of late, but he had a dominant streak from June 3 to July 6 where he went 4-2 with an ERA below 2.00 over seven starts.
The youngest piece to the staff, Wood still has plenty of potential. He is still under team control next year, so he will also come very cheap. Look for him to make improvements next season and to be a more consistent asset to the Cubs.
5. Justin Germano
Acquired in July from the Boston Red Sox for cash considerations, Germano will likely fill one of the vacant rotation spots for the rest of the season. Though it's a small sample size, he has performed will so far, giving up three runs in eight innings since the deal.
He will be 30 to start off next year, but he could be a solid No. 5 starter while the farm system talent continues to improve. Germano provides the Cubs with a decent, inexpensive arm for 2013.
Wild Card: Arodys Vizcaino
Vizcaino came over from Atlanta in a trade that sent Paul Maholm and Reed Johnson packing. He entered 2012 as one of the Braves organization's best prospects, but his season ended in March when he underwent Tommy John surgery.
The 21-year-old was by far the best player the Cubs received in their deadline deals, but it is unsure where Vizcaino will be most effective. He has pitched both as a starter and in relief during his four minor league seasons, and if he has a shot of making the team out of spring training, the Cubs will have a decision to make regarding his place in the organization's future.