Chicago Cubs: 3 Players Most Likely to Be Dealt Before Opening Day

Tyler Duma@@TylerDuma_BRFeatured ColumnistDecember 31, 2012

CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 19: Alfonso Soriano #12 of the Chicago Cubs hits a two-run homer in the sixth inning against the Cincinnati Reds on September 19,  2012 at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. It was Soriano's 30th home run of the season. (Photo by David Banks/Getty Images)
David Banks/Getty Images

The Chicago Cubs are in a rebuilding phase.

Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer have been itching to move some of the contracts that Jim Hendry racked up over his nine-year reign in Chicago.

Three big contracts remain from the Hendry-era—Carlos Mármol, Alfonso Soriano and Matt Garza.

Mármol, Garza and Soriano are slated to earn $9.8 million, $18 million and roughly $10 million (pending arbitration), respectively, next season.

Mármol seems to be on his way out after the Cubs signing of Kyuji Fujikawa earlier this month. 

The 30-year-old righty hasn't been great the last two seasons, blowing a combined 13 saves in the last two seasons with a 3.76 ERA and a 1.45 ERA.

Additionally, Mármol is a roller coaster ride on the mound.

Last season, Mármol threw just 48 percent first-pitch strikes, while nine percent of his at-bats have resulted in a 3-0 count. The Major League averages (over the course of Mármol's career) for first-pitch strikes and at-bats resulting in a 3-0 count are at 59 and five percent.

Mármol's numbers are hardly ideal for a closer.

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Perhaps the most damning part of the Fujikawa–Mármol situation though, is the fact that Fujikawa's entire two-year contract is worth less than what Mármol is scheduled to earn next season.

Matt Garza has been linked to numerous teams over the last two seasons, most recently Texas and Toronto.

His health is definitely an issue as he was shut down toward the end of last season due to an elbow injury. Even with the health problems, there's a possibility Garza gets dealt.

The Rangers were linked to Garza and, providing he's healthy, they seem to be a good fit. The Rangers lost Josh Hamilton this year and after missing out on Zack Greinke, the Rangers rotation (per MLBdepthcharts.com) is Yu Darvish, Derek Holland, Matt Harrison, Alexi Ogando and Martin Perez.

Garza's health is going to be the defining issue in whether or not he's traded, but it looks like he could certainly be traded prior to the 2013 season.

That leaves Alfonso Soriano as the only astronomically overpaid player on the Cubs and the only other likely trade candidate.

Soriano's value is arguably as high as it's been since he joined the team in 2007. Last year, Soriano slashed .262/.322/.499 with 32 home runs and with 108 RBI and 68 runs scored.

The impressive showing last year gives the Cubs a little bit of leverage in a trade situation if they're willing to eat some of the $18 million he's owed in 2013.

Mármol and Soriano seem to be the most obvious candidates for trades. But with Garza on the mend, a trade isn't out of the question.

If the Cubs front office is serious about progressing through the rebuilding process, then Soriano and Mármol are must-gos. Garza should be dealt, but only for the right price.

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