We've heard so many rumors this offseason about the possibility of trading Matt Garza, but it seemed from the start that it wasn't something the Cubs were eager to do. He's not untouchable, but the Cubs set a lofty price for him. It's an indication of how much they value their 28 year old starter. He's their ace and he's young. That's how it should be.
The Cubs starter that could eventually be traded is Randy Wells. Teams right now think they have the right pieces. It's spring and optimism abounds. The Tigers aren't saying they need another top starter. For now they'll talk about how Doug Fister, Max Scherzer, and Rick Porcello are throwing well this spring and that they're comfortable with their rotation. But they have said they'd like to add a 5th starter.
Danny Knobler of CBS Sports has said that teams are convinced that the Tigers will add a starter before opening day. Detroit Assistant GM Al Avila confirmed as much,
“We’ll be looking at other pitchers in other camps throughout spring training to see if there’s anything that makes sense for us."
This probably hasn't changed given Jacob Turner's rocky first outing where he walked 4 batters and failed to finish the second inning. The Tigers are the odds-on favorites to win the AL Central, but they're not going to want to give away every 5th game either, so an inexpensive pitcher with a history of some success like Randy Wells makes some sense.
Wells was solid in 2009 and 2010 posting 3 WAR in each season. In 2011, he was injured early and then struggled to find his stuff and command when he got back. But yet, he's still only 29.
So then why wouldn't the Cubs keep him? He seems to fit some of the criteria Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer seem to value.
It's early, but the emergence of Jeff Samardzija could complicate things for the Cubs. If he continues to impress and wins a spot in the rotation, that leaves one spot open for either Wells, Travis Wood, or Chris Volstad. Volstad is out of options and pitched very well in his first outing. The Cubs cannot send him to Iowa and they certainly can't hope he'll pass waivers. As for Wood, he's 4 years younger than Wells and more likely a part of their long term future. It also helps that he's left-handed. Given the early struggles of the Cubs young lefty bullpen candidates, the Cubs may opt to keep Wood in relief for now if he doesn't make the rotation. The Cubs top lefty reliever thus far has been non-roster veteran Trever Miller. He'll be 39 in May, however, and the Cubs may be more likely to go with youth.
In other words, it isn't so much that the Cubs don't value Randy Wells as it just simply seems he looks to be the odd man out when all is said and done. Wells is still young, but his upside is a bit more limited than the other candidates. He does have a good slider, but the fastball (88-91 mph) and rest of his repertoire are average at best.
Might Wells be a better fit on a team that needs him more in the short term while he's not to far removed from his peak years? The Tigers are one team. The Kansas City Royals look to take a step forward this year as well, but lack the arms to do, so they may be interested. Or perhaps Wells fits with a team that has suffered a recent injury such as the Pittsburgh Pirates. They may want to take a chance on a young, inexpensive arm for their rotation. Other candidates include the Orioles, Mariners, and the Padres.
As to what the Cubs would receive in return, it wouldn't be a whole lot but it wouldn't be for peanuts either. Wells is a 29 year old starter with 3 years of cost-control. That alone has pretty good value in today's market. From the Cubs end you'd either want at least a lower level prospect with good upside or an MLB ready guy with a limited ceiling. A trade would also be about opening up opportunities for younger Cubs pitchers who have a better chance of contributing 3-4 years down the road.