The Chicago Cubs traded their most valuable asset today, sending pitcher Matt Garza to the Texas Rangers for a four-player package.
Garza had been atop the Cubs' trade list since the beginning of last season, but injuries and other circumstances prevented the team from finding a suitor. With the MLB trade deadline swiftly approaching, the news that Garza has a new baseball home should elate Cubs fans.
In the midst of rebuilding, many were surprised that Garza had not already been dealt. The offseason unveiled a poor market for the pitcher, and the back-and-forth reports over the last two weeks had fans wondering if indeed Garza would be dealt.
After hearing "Garza will make what could be his last start in a Cubs uniform tonight" for over a calendar year, that anxiety was certainly well-credited. With Garza set to start tonight, the Cubs pulled him as talks with the Rangers heated up once again.
Texas had been the frontrunner to land Garza for over a week, but talks had stopped as the Cubs could not agree on a package from the Rangers that suited them. Thanks to the late interest from their division rivals, the Oakland Athletics, the Rangers jumped back in the Garza talks, and made the move.
Coming to Chicago in the deal is one of the Rangers' top prospects, third/first baseman Mike Olt. At the start of the 2013 season, Baseball America had Olt ranked at 22 on their prospect list. Vision issues, possibly concussion-related, have set the 24 year-old back a bit since then, but he still ranked within the top 50 (44th) on Baseball America's midseason list of prospects.
While Olt is a fine addition the Cubs' growing stockpile of young hitters, the true centerpiece of the Garza deal may be C.J. Edwards.
The 21 year-old starting pitcher has been tearing up single-A thus far in 2013. He was ranked as the Rangers' 14th top prospect at the end of last season, and was well on his way to improving that this year.
In 2013, Edwards has gone 8-2 with a 1.83 ERA for his low-A team, allowing zero homeruns in the process. He has struck out 207 batters and walked only 59 in 160.1 innings pitched. The continued development of this young starter is something that should interest Cubs fans, and could turn this trade into a steal for the Cubs.
Also coming to Chicago in the trade are pitcher Justin Grimm and a player-to-be-named-later. Grimm has struggled in the majors thus far, posting a 6.73 ERA in 103 professional innings for the Rangers, but is another young arm for the Cubs to try and develop. At 24 years-old, there is plenty of time for Grimm to adjust to the National League and improve his performance on the field.
Hanging on to Garza would have only meant that the Cubs would yet again be looking to deal him in the offseason, or by the trade deadline next year. Considering his injury history, extending the "ace" pitcher would not make sense for the Cubs during their rebuilding stages.
Stockpiling young talent, especially pitchers, is the best route the Cubs can take at the moment. Olt strengthens the growing number of prospects the Cubs have at fielding positions, and Edwards and Grimm bolster the thin depth the team has in pitching prospects.
No one knows how good any of these players may turn out to be, but the Cubs have traded an asset that was worth very little to them, and have improved the club's outlook in the years to come.
Celebrate the day Cubs fans; you no longer have to worry about when, or if, Matt Garza will be traded.