One of the hardest things about writing a piece on possible players to trade this close to the deadline is that I more or less have to check the rumors after each paragraph. If I don't, I'm liable to write a whole paragraph on how a player probably won't be traded only to find that they actually were 10 minutes ago. For a team as active in the "rebuilding mode" as the Chicago Cubs are, they have been mysteriously quiet. The trade deadline is now just a little more than 24 hours away and there are still a lot of pieces on this Cubs team that might find homes elsewhere before it's all said and done.
What's strange is how which players are the best trading chips has changed since the early discussions of the looming deadline. At one time, it was limited to Ryan Dempster, Matt Garza, and perhaps Starlin Castro --at the time, Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer made it apparent that no one was entirely untouchable should the right offer be put forward. While Dempster is still considered a big target, there have been other players who have emerged as being at least semi-valuable to a team looking to make a playoff run. With the addition of the second wild card spot, there is no shortage of teams who think they can make that run.
Paul Maholm (9-6, 3.74 ERA)Maholm might end up being a really intelligent acquisition for the Cubs. Epstein brought him in as part of the starting pitcher barrage that was signed prior to the season to possibly fill in the holes in the rotation. I don't know if the Cubs plan on keeping Maholm around for the long term, but he's pitched well enough to command some decent talent in any possible trade.
Reed Johnson ( .307, 3 HR, 16 RBI)Given his platoon status in the outfield, Johnson's numbers don't really stand out. However, his .400-plus pinch-hitter average does. Johnson, along with players like Jeff Baker, are perennial trade chips. They play consistent defense, are good pinch hitters, and are generally alright with the platoon role on a team. Essentially, their description fits perfectly with what you want out of the last few players on your roster. Further, there is always a team looking for just that type of player.
Alfonso Soriano ( .274, 19 HR, 61 RBI)Despite Soriano's numbers this season, the Cubs would probably still have to eat a portion of his contract even if he were traded. However, he's also playing great defense. I know that's hard to believe, but he truly is. He has no errors, five outfield assists, two double plays, and takes consistently better routes in the field than he has in the past. He's 36, and seeing his numbers this season --which are really pretty good-- this might be the Cubs best chance to get something for him instead of just waiting out his contract.
While Garza is still an attractive option, his recent injury to his right triceps lessens his trade value. Further, Garza's 3.91 ERA is hardly ace-caliber numbers. While the rest of his numbers are certainly passable, combined with his injury, Garza looks a little harder to unload than initially thought.
Since the Cubs are in their rebuild stage, any number of players might be shown the door. I even heard the New York Mets had a passing interest in Geovany Soto. I'd be alright with that.
Brian is a lifelong Chicago Cubs fan, having lived in Illinois his entire life and having followed Major League Baseball throughout.