COMMENTARY | Rather unexpectedly, the Chicago Cubs have been playing good baseball. I say that not because they don't have talent on their roster, I say that because, despite areas of success -- starting pitching being the most obvious -- the Cubs have been left for dead on multiple occasions this season. And really, they should have been. But here they are, just eight games under .500 -- the closest they have been since June 1.
The Cubs have some quality players that they have to consider whether or not trading them away is good idea -- whether for this season or the long run.
Nate Schierholtz (.275 AG, 11 HRs, 34 RBIs)
A quality outfielder who is only 29 deserves consideration for at least a semi-long-term position on the roster. Offensively, Schierholtz has been one of the Cubs' most consistent hitters. As Anthony Rizzo scuffled and Alfonso Soriano continued being Alfonso Soriano, Schierholtz was moved to the third spot in the Cubs' lineup -- either a praise for Schierholtz or a loud speaker announcing to the world just how lackluster the Cubs' lineup really is.
The Cubs have some quality outfield prospects -- Albert Almora, Jorge Soler, and maybe Brett Jackson -- but those prospects don't figure to be quite ready for the majors in the immediate future. Schierholtz could be a solid stabilizing force to the tune of a two or three year contract.
Alfonso Soriano (.266 AVG, 15 HRs, 47 RBIs)
Just when you think you are 100 percent sure you can't wait for Soriano to find his way out of town, he has the kind of two weeks he just had -- .400 AVG, 8 HRs, 17 RBIs, 1.022 SLG over 11 games.
Soriano has long had the reputation of being one of the streakiest hitters in the league. It's fortunate for the Cubs that he's having one of these patented streaks shortly before the trade deadline. He's also the healthiest he has been -- evident by his now-existent running game (10 stolen bases). Soriano still has another year on his contract that might make him a slightly tougher sell, but if the Cubs can find a buyer, Soriano's value won't ever be any higher.
Matt Garza (5-1, 3.22 ERA)
Clearly the Cubs' strongest trading chip, a few scattered reports have been saying the Cubs are discussing an extension with Garza. Though most of those reports follow that up by saying the Cubs are just verifying they are still a long ways apart from what Garza thinks he is worth.
Garza continues to pitch well, going 4-0 with a 0.97 ERA in his last five starts, so he's undeniably valuable. However, as I wrote in a previous piece, Garza's number won't stay as elite and they really only have one direction to go. Like Soriano (except even more so), Garza's value can't get much higher. His durability concerns won't be eradicated with two months of healthy pitching and he isn't getting younger. If you're going to trade him, do it now. Otherwise, he's a Cubs pitcher for a long time.
At 29, he could be a mainstay for the Cubs for several years, but if they aren't willing to pay him what he thinks he's worth, then they may as well trade him. The Cubs would submit a qualifying offer in the offseason to insure draft compensation, but they'd lose out on Garza either way.
The one snag could be because of the "Zack Wheeler Syndrome" as ESPN's Buster Olney calls it. The Cubs' reported asking price for Garza is "incredibly high" and considering he is basically a two-month rental, teams might shy away.
Brian is a lifelong Chicago Cubs follower. Living in Illinois his entire life has given him a chance to closely follow and report Chicago sports as a freelance writer through Yahoo! Contributor and Yahoo! Sports. He is also a senior in college majoring in English and Creative Writing.
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