Thanks to the departure of Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder, not to mention the pending suspension of Ryan Braun, the NL Central is looking considerably weaker and more open heading into 2012. The Chicago Cubs face an interesting dilemma: pretend to contend or take the plunge into a full rebuild? The average fan is most likely clamoring for the former, while a level-headed one hopefully sees the merit in letting Theo Epstein start his rebuilding now. The offense looks below average at this point, while the rotation seems decent with some possible upside. Matt Garza presents most if not all of that upside, yet his greatest value may come from what they get for him in 2012, not for what they get from him. The Cubs need to deal Garza sometime this season, and for the sake of having something to blog about, I propose the time is now. Here's a suggestion:
DET receives P Garza, OF Marlon Byrd, 3B Marquez Smith, and PTBNL
CHC receives P Jacob Turner, 3B Nick Castellanos, P Drew Smyly, 3B Brandon Inge, OF Clete Thomas, and P David Pauley
Detroit would now boast a rotation of Cy Young winner Justin Verlander, Garza, Max Scherzer, Doug Fister, and Rick Porcello. Wow...that's elite. Byrd could provide a little more outfield depth (especially if Miguel Cabrera can stick at third, meaning Delmon Young DH's) and a potential backup plan for the leadoff spot if Austin Jackson continues to be awful there. Smith would provide Cabrera the same kind of AAA depth for 3B that Inge would have, only for a lot cheaper. Detroit would be giving up a lot, so I'm assuming they'd like another piece. My PTBNL is whoever's left of Josh Vitters or Trey McNutt, since one or the other is rumored to be headed to Boston as compensation for Epstein.
The Cubs would enjoy two new front starters in Turner and Smyly for the foreseeable future, while still having Ryan Dempster, Paul Maholm, Randy Wells, Travis Wood, Chris Volstad, Andy Sonnanstine, Rodrigo Lopez, Casey Coleman as other starting options. They'd get a future 3B in Castellanos, a current one in Inge (at least as a platoon and utilityman), a cheap bullpen piece in Pauley, and AAA depth in Thomas. Since they'd be taking on four roster spots while clearing just three, a DFA of Sonnanstine seems plausible, since he signed a split-contract. Why not pull the trigger?