Chicago Cubs Trade Scenarios: 4 Ideal Trades for Theo Epstein & Co.

David Webber@@davidpwebber21Analyst IDecember 3, 2012

Chicago Cubs Trade Scenarios: 4 Ideal Trades for Theo Epstein & Co.

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    It just got worse for the Cubs in 2012. Things were supposed to be different coming off of a 71-91 season under manager Mike Quade, but Dale Sveum couldn't do much better in leading the team to a 61-101 mark and leaving the future of the team in more chaos than before.

    The Cubs are an interesting mix of youth, castaways, talent and aging veterans. It all adds up to an organization that is in need of a rebuilding effort in the highest order.

    It starts with trades. The Cubs have a few bloated contracts and ineffective former stars who still have gas in the tank. There are options across the board—all that remains is for Theo Epstein to make the right moves to send the organization in the right direction.

    The winter meetings are upon us, and baseball's offseason is officially ready to get more interesting. Cubs fans are waiting with bated breath to see what Epstein decides to do, because they want nothing more than a step in the right direction toward that elusive third World Series title.

Alfonso Soriano for Anyone or Anything

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    It's no secret that the Cubs have been trying to trade Alfonso Soriano for years now. He has hit 164 home runs for Chicago in the last six seasons and had one of his best years in a Cubbies uniform in 2012, but his contract remains a black hole on their payroll. At 38 years old, Soriano is simply not worth $18 million, no matter how you slice it.

    The Cubs are probably happy that Soriano had a good year in 2012 because it may have boosted their ability to trade him. As it is, though, it remains highly unlikely. If the Cubs aren't willing to pay Soriano a year after he hit 32 home runs, there's not a good chance another team will.

    But you never know. It would be an absolute win in every sense of the word if Theo Epstein can somehow unload the huge contract for some solid prospects. He should phone every contender that needs an outfield bat and see if they are willing to deal.

Matt Garza for Prospects

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    The desire to trade Soriano is a fiscal decision; when it comes to Matt Garza, it's a rebuilding move. Garza's contract was only $9.5 million for 2012 but the Cubs could really benefit from trading the right-handed fireballer. He's coming off of an injury-plagued season, but Garza is only 28 and still has several good years ahead of him.

    The Cubs could definitely trade him for a big name or a great arm for their rotation, but they'd be better off finding a good trade with a bunch of solid prospects. Let's be honest: The Cubs aren't contenders, and they won't be until they go into full rebuilding mode. The move to get Garza was a prisoner-of-the-moment move, where Chicago believed he could help them win now. The problem is, the Cubs have far too many issues for Garza to mask, and he hasn't exactly lived up to his billing as an ace.

    There will definitely be a market for Garza, but the Cubs have to make sure they make a smart deal. Fans trust Theo Epstein to make the right decision. Chicago's future may depend on it.

Prospects for Giancarlo Stanton

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    There is no player in the major leagues more coveted at the moment than the Marlins' Giancarlo Stanton. After the Marlins essentially made a fire sale and moved most of their talent to Toronto, teams figured to call and ask for possible trades for the 23-year-old Stanton, who hit 37 home runs in 2012 despite missing almost 40 games.

    The Cubs are in rebuilding mode, so they should be focusing more on prospects than on individual talent. But if there was ever an exception to this philosophy, it would be Stanton. He is a special talent who could lead the league in home runs for the next 10 years and could be one of the most feared hitters in all of baseball. Remember, he's only 23.

    The problem is that the Cubs would literally have to sell the farm to get him, because the Marlins will most certainly not give their superstar away for anything less the best deal available. And for the Cubs, that would mean gutting a minor league system that doesn't have a huge amount of talent to begin with.

    The Marlins are also in rebuilding mode, so they probably wouldn't entertain offers for player-for-player trades. Digging into the farm system is the only way to get Stanton and while the Cubs would have a shot, they'd have to make a franchise-altering decision if they wanted to secure Stanton's services.

Carlos Marmol for Another Arm

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    Carlos Marmol has a reputation as a wild pitcher, a player from whom you never know what you'll get. To an extent, this is true: Marmol can be wild and can walk plenty of batters, and was pretty awful in spots last season. But overall, 2012 wasn't as disastrous for him as many fans thought. He improved from the previous season and seemed to settle down near the end.

    Marmol will be in trade talks with teams that need some bullpen help. Having a solid reliever on your staff is a great trade chip and Marmol's nearly $10 million contract would be nice to unload if Epstein can find a way to do it. But Marmol is a talent, and although he is 30, there are still several years left in his arm.

    Epstein has to be smart with how he deals Marmol. Chances are that he won't make a coup in terms of prospects, but he could definitely find a good starting arm if he can identify a team that really needs bullpen help. It's possible a trade for Dan Haren of the Angels could still be in the making (and it would make sense). Whatever happens, it seems like Marmol has worn out his welcome in the Windy City, and he should be part of the change that will sweep over the Cubs this offseason.