With the halfway mark of the 2013 Major League Baseball season approaching, the Chicago Cubs sit at 33-44, which puts them in fourth place in the National League Central. Cubs’ fans who are looking for optimism can rest assured that this year’s team is more competitive than last year’s team was, at one point even stringing together a five-game winning streak. Rebuilding takes time.
The Cubs aren’t exactly mathematically eliminated yet, but alas, they are 14.5 games out of first place in one of the better divisions in baseball. Don’t expect the Pittsburgh Pirates, St. Louis Cardinals, or the Cincinnati Reds to stop their winning ways any time soon. It will be a three-way race between those teams for the division title, and unless something weird happens, one of them will pick up a Wild Card birth as well.
So unless the Cubs make a stunning charge of their own in the next month, they’ll probably be in the market for a few deals before the trade deadline of July 31. They’ll be selling, not buying. It can be a bit difficult to predict how this process is going to go, but here are three of the players who are most likely to go with the hopes of securing young prospects that may help the future of the club in their stead:
1. Matt Garza
Garza’s name has been thrown around for a while now, and for good reason. While he’s probably not quite the ace he’s tried to be in Chicago, he does provide consistent production, and he’s got World Series experience. He’d fit in quite nicely as about a number-three starter for a contender. He’s endured injury problems last and this year, but since coming off the disabled list, he’s pitched quite well: 3-1 record, 3.83 ERA. At 29 years old, he’s probably got some career in front of him.
2. Kevin Gregg
Unlike Garza, Gregg’s name is a recent one to pop up on these lists. The Los Angeles Dodgers let him go this year after spring training, and he was a complete afterthought for the Cubs. But he’s pitched shockingly well in an emergency closing role: 12 saves, 2-1 record, 1.42 ERA. So why get rid of him? Well, at 35, he’s not young, but a contender very well may be interested in his services for this season.
3. Alfonso Soriano
Soriano has not had a great season — .245 batting average, 7 home runs, 30 RBIs — and the degree to which he’s coveted by other teams certainly probably isn’t high. No one would argue against the fact that his best days are behind him. But he’s still got his big name going for him, and like Garza, he’s got extensive playoff and even World Series experience. There may be a team out there that takes a chance on him contributing just enough to give them a little offensive boost.