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Why Matt Garza is the Chicago Cubs' Best Trade Chip

Yahoo Contributor Network

COMMENTARY | Though the Chicago Cubs have been able to make significant progress in rebuilding their minor leagues, they are still very much in seller mode -- their current 29-40 record assures that status. It's fortunate they have had success in the draft and free agency since Theo Epstein took over because when it comes to trading chips, the Cubs don't have a whole lot at the major-league level.

David DeJesus, Scott Feldman, and Alfonso Soriano all have trade bait written all over them, but they hardly have the significant trade value we Cubs fans might hope. It's not that these players won't contribute to whatever team they go to (if they're traded), it's that these players won't command significant prospects in return. For that reason, Matt Garza seems to be the Cubs' strongest trade chip this season.

That's primarily because of Garza's age (29). If he continues to show that he is healthy and able to pitch like he did in his last outing against the New York Mets (seven innings, no runs, three hits, five strikeouts), he might be able to command a solid prospect or two. His potential longevity as (probably) a number-two starter should make him more attractive than someone like Soriano who is at the tail end of his career, Feldman (6-5, 3.05 ERA) who is most likely overachieving, or DeJesus who is currently on the disabled list with a sprained shoulder.

The only question -- it's a big one -- is whether or not Garza can stay healthy. Even if Garza stays healthy for the six weeks leading up to the deadline, there's no guarantee that teams will be sold on his durability. Regardless, his injury-ridden past will undoubtedly lessen whatever package the Cubs could get for him based on numbers alone.

It's easy to overlook the fact that Garza has actually pitched to expectations for the Cubs when he has actually pitched. The Cubs aren't asking potential buyers to count on a return-to-form, just more of what they've already seen from Garza -- he has a 3.67 ERA with the Cubs in 55 games, 0.19 lower than his years with Tampa Bay.

Nate Schierholtz is a possibility as well (probably the second best trade chip), but with Soriano and DeJesus possibly heading elsewhere, it would be surprising to see the Cubs unload their entire starting outfield. At only 29, Schierholtz still has another year before he can hit free agency and could end up being the Cubs' solution in right field until one of their prospects is ready. I think he stays.

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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