Ever since they arrived on board with the Chicago Cubs, Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer have done a fantastic job retooling the minor leagues. That being said, there is still plenty of work to do if they expect to be competitive when these guys are ready to make the jump to the big leagues.
Now that there are limitations on money you can spend in the draft and international free agency, it is certainly harder to build a good minor league system than it was a few years ago. One way that teams like the Cubs can speed up the process of rebuilding is by trading major league players for minor league prospects.
They did so successfully last season at the deadline, flipping Ryan Dempster, Paul Maholm, Geovany Soto, Reed Johnson and Jeff Baker for a nice haul of minor league prospects, most notably Arodyz Vizciano from the Atlanta Braves. Even with their recent success, the Cubs do not have the talent to seriously compete for a World Series title.
Because of this, I think the Cubs should and probably will sell off even more pieces than last season.
Alfonso Soriano has been the subject of trade rumors for years. You never know, but I think that this is the year that he finally does get dealt. The Cubs will surely have to eat a good portion of his contract to get a deal done, plus Soriano has a full no trade clause so that might make things a little difficult, but he has been productive and there is surely a team out there that could use his power for their lineup.
The Cubs have some serious depth in the starting pitching department with Jeff Samardzija, Edwin Jackson, Scott Feldman, Carlos Villanueva and Travis Wood currently in the rotation. Matt Garza is expected to return very soon and Scott Baker will be back at some point this season. I expect at least one of these guys to be traded, most likely Feldman and/or Garza, if he can return effectively.
David DeJesus, Carlos Marmol and James Russell are also guys that could be key pick-ups for a contending team. The Cubs should be able to get a solid return on DeJesus and Russell, but it will surely be tough to trade the inconsistent Marmol.
It will be very interesting to see what the Cubs do the next couple of months as they continue to have their eyes on the future. I think Epstein and Hoyer will listen on any player, with Starlin Castro, Anthony Rizzo and Samardzija being nearly untouchable.
If they can work out a few deals before the July 31 deadline, it will definitely go a long way to help with the rebuild of this team.