Lost in the mix of free agency and the giant contracts each winter is the importance of trades in Major League Baseball. With the winter meetings approaching, general managers will be mingling and looking for the next great acquisition from another team.
Chicago will be no different. The new regime of Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer has a lot of work to do and many expect the Cubs to dish out deals left and right to lure the best free agents. Sorry, it won't happen.
The most important issue the Cubs need to address this winter is the starting pitching.
Ryan Dempster recently picked up his option for 2012 worth $14 million and Matt Garza is also set to return next season. The troubled Carlos Zambrano will be difficult to trade and if he can impress the new regime could still be in blue pinstripes come April. The Cubs will also have Randy Wells and Andrew Cashner back.
Besides being average, the problem with this rotation is that it is stacked full of right-handers.
Each of the last five World Series champions had either a dominant left-handed pitcher or a good mix between southpaws and right-handed hurlers. The Cubs have neither and will need one if they wish to become champions.
Both Mark Buehrle and C.J. Wilson are available on the market, though Buehrle will already be 33 next spring and Wilson will likely command more money than what he deserves (he knows the playoffs are important, right?)
Instead, the Chicago Cubs should address their issue by trading for a young left-handed pitcher who has proven himself.
Considering Wandy is 32 he is not a viable option. John Danks belongs to the Cubs cross-town rival so that is unlikely as well.
Gio Gonzalez, the stage is yours.
According to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, the Oakland A's are willing to listen on offers for the 26-year-old star. There has been a lot of buzz circling the Miami Marlins and their interest in Gio, but the Cubs can certainly compete for his services.
Gonzalez, who is entering his first year of arbitration, would likely cost Chicago a couple of good prospects in a packaged deal.
For the price of outfielders Matt Szczur, Reggie Golden and the hard-throwing Chris Carpenter, Gonzalez would be on the move to Wrigley. Oakland is in dire need of offensive prospects and is no stranger to shipping off their pitchers before they must pay them the big bucks.
What the Cubs would have to give up is not an issue. Theo Epstein and company will do a great job in Chicago of supplying the farm system while developing players and Gio Gonzalez will do more in the Windy City than those prospects could.
In two full seasons with Oakland the lefty is 31-21 and has posted ERA's of 3.23 and 3.12. This season Gonzalez also showed he can be dominant over NL teams.
The Cubs need to buck up and bring in Gio Gonzalez. He will be worth it for years to come.
Steven Conklin is a contributing writer for the Bleacher Report and a student at the University of Central Missouri. He joined the B/R in October 2011. Any comments, questions, or suggestions are more than welcome.
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