After hiring Dale Sveum as their new manager, the Chicago Cubs now will move on to making offseason player moves. New president Theo Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer have stated that other than Starlin Castro, no player is untouchable.
That means that many players that were cornerstones at Wrigley Field in 2011 could be gone by the start of 2012. The Cubs have yet to discuss any offers, but with the Cubs having so many holes in their roster, it would not be a surprise if some guys ultimately do get dealt.
The Cubs will need to find some major help in pitching, infield and outfield. In order to do so, they will have to trade talent to get talent.
These are the rankings of the players that the Cubs could get the most in return for.
The Chicago Cubs have considered bringing Carlos Zambrano back for the 2012 season. This may also be a bluff so that teams believe even the Cubs' brass see him as stable.
No matter what, the Cubs would likely be losing more in any deal than what they would get in return. They would at least benefit themselves by eliminating the possibility of running into yet another potential mental breakdown.
The Cubs may get some decent prospects in return for Zambrano, but they also likely will be taking on most of Zambrano's 2012 salary. Of all the players that the Cubs would likely trade, Zambrano would have the worst return when considering the talent that would be coming back.
Just like Carlos Zambrano, inconsistent outfielder Alfonso Soriano will be very hard to move this offseason. The Cubs would be likely asked to take on a majority of his contract, and considering his age many teams would be hesitant to give up any young talent in return.
The Cubs have been trying to move Soriano for many years, but it looks like he may be stuck in Chicago for the long run.
Theo Epstein has stated that he doesn't see Soriano as a lost cause, so it remains to be seen how that pans out if Soriano is unmovable by the start of 2012.
While young pitcher Andrew Cashner likely has a bright future, his trade value is at an all-time low considering that he only made one start in 2011.
Considering the potential talent that Cashner has, the Cubs would be best to not explore any options for him since he has much to prove. Unfortunately for the Cubs, they will have to see how Cashner pans out.
All they can hope is that he will turn out to be the star pitcher that he looked to be in his early outing in 2011. If the Cubs are looking really bad in 2012, they could possibly look to move Cashner later on if he proves to have some trade value.
Ryan Dempster put the Chicago Cubs in a real hole this offseason when the starting pitcher accepted his $15 million option for the 2012 season. While Dempster provides a consistent option for any team, his price tag is very high and his age will likely not come with any significant return in prospects.
The Cubs could look to move Dempster for a solid reliever or fielder if they find Randy Wells and Andrew Cashner as options to fill out the starting rotation, but it is hard to imagine the Cubs moving Dempster for any significant talent with his best years behind him.
Still, Dempster is a guy who is worth dangling out there. If they are unable to find a suitor, they should at least look to restructure his contract so that he doesn't eat such a huge a chunk of the Cubs' 2012 salary.
Although he can be extremely unstable at times, Carlos Marmol has been one of the dirtiest closing pitchers in the MLB for the last few seasons.
If a team is desperate for a closer, they may overpay for the righty's talents and give the Cubs a few pieces they could play with. The issue here is that the Cubs would need to find a solid closer to replace Marmol, and an aging Kerry Wood wouldn't be a long-term answer.
The Cubs could consider moving Sean Marshall to the closing role, but he serves better as a setup man. The Cubs could also look for options outside of the ball club, but that remains to be seen.
Even if he wasn't statistically great in 2011, second baseman Darwin Barney played relatively well for what was expected of him. There is no better time than now to trade Barney considering this may be the highest value he could have.
Still, Barney likely wouldn't bring in anything significant on his own. He could be the cornerstone piece of a package that could bring in solid third or second baseman.
Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer may like Barney for their spot at second base in 2011, but they will likely still explore the possibility of moving him if they can get the right player in exchange. Barney could stay the same or regress in 2012, so his value will never be as high as it will be this offseason.
While missing good chunks of the 2011 season due to injuries, starting center fielder Marlon Byrd could be a coveted option for many teams.
Byrd is in the last year of his contract and is only due $6.5 million. Many teams may be interested in bringing Byrd in as a fielder or specifically as a designated hitter.
With players like Brett Jackson coming up the ranks, the Cubs may be best off moving Byrd now while they could possibly get some pieces in return for him, since they likely would not retain him beyond 2012. If the right deal comes around, the Cubs may trade him before this season. If not, Byrd will likely be dealt before the trade deadline, since the Cubs won't need him and some playoff team likely will.
If the hype is real about catching prospect Welington Castillo, the Cubs may be best off moving catcher Geovany Soto this offseason.
Although Soto has provided great defense for the Cubs, he has never been able to be consistent enough of a hitter to be considered a keeper. There are many teams that are loaded with bats and would be likely be interested in bringing in a defensive-minded catcher.
If the Cubs do add a big bat this offseason, they may ultimately decide to keep Soto around so that they will at least benefit from his actual ability as a catcher. If the Cubs do decide to trade Soto, they likely will get some pretty good pieces in return for his services.
Sean Marshall was without a doubt insane for the Chicago Cubs last year. No pitcher, starting or relieving, was as consistent as the big left-handed pitcher.
Marshall had 79 strikeouts in 75.2 innings, and any team would be interested in a talented left-handed pitcher just entering his prime.
The Cubs would likely be reluctant to move Marshall, but if they did they likely would get some very nice pieces in return. It is very hard to come by left-handed talent, and Marshall is without a doubt one of the best in the league.
Marshall has always been an option to start or relieve, but he seems to have shined his brightest in his setup role with the Cubs. Down the line, he potentially could be their option at closer if they move on from Carlos Marmol.
Although he went 10-10 in 2011, the Chicago Cubs' big catch of the 2011 offseason Matt Garza will be the most coveted of the available players on the Cubs' roster.
In comparison to his season with the Tampa Bay Rays in 2010, Garza improved statistically in almost every category besides wins and innings pitched. His value will be extremely high, but the real question is if the Cubs will be able to get as much in return for what they gave up for him.
That alone may not be worth any trade. Garza is easily the Cubs' best starting pitcher, and he could be the team's ace or No. 2 starter for years to come.
With what Garza could bring to any team, he would most definitely bring in the greatest return for the Cubs. But in the end, that return may not be enough to win the Cubs over. Next to Castro, Garza is the everyday player that the Cubs are least likely to move.
Jeff Chase is from Chicago and is an undergrad at Arizona State University. He currently is interning with B/R and is in process of becoming a Featured Columnist for Arizona State football.
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