It is hard to argue that starting Carlos Silva makes good baseball since for the Cubs this season. If the Cubs want a more veteran presence in the fourth starter slot, Randy Wells would make more sense as he has a much better shot of being part of the Cubs long term. With at least three young guys in Coleman, Cashner, and Russell fighting for the fifth slot, it is highly unlikely that the Cubs would not choose to take a look at one of them in the fifth starter roll.
So where does that leave Silva?
His contract is large, probably too large to get any team to take it on unless the Cubs take a bad contract in return. He looked very good in the first half of last season, and if his health problems are in fact a thing of the past he might put together 25 or so good starts this season. If the Cubs waive him, thus eating his contract, some other team will almost certainly pick him up. That being the case, why should the Cubs eat his contract and lose him for nothing when they could eat his contract and trade him? If you take that massive price tag off of him, there are several teams who would be more than happy to have Silva pitch for them in 2011. What’s more, if he proves he’s healthy the Cubs could stand to pick up a substantial piece or two in the trade. After all, how many guys are available for trade the season after going 8-0 when healthy?
Who are the candidates to trade for Silva? Basically, pull out all the articles about teams wanting to trade for Gorzelanny, and start there. Two teams are high on that list, Detroit and the Mets. And, fortuitously, both of these teams have a player who looks somewhat extraneous but might be a good pickup for the Cubs. I’ve talked about the Mets 1B/OF Lucas Duda before. Duda has power, is best (albeit not great) at first, and is squeezed out of that position by Ike Davis. Offensively I doubt he projects much if any higher than Max Ramirez, but depth counts when considering prospects. Swapping Duda and another piece or two for Silva wouldn’t be a bad deal for the Cubs if Silva doesn’t fit into their rotation plans anyway.
On the Tigers, maybe Casper Wells would be available. This young outfielder is going to be hard pressed to find at bats if he can’t win a starting job this spring. On the Cubs he would provide a bit more speed off the bench, possibly some power, and could remain a fixture in that fourth outfielder role for some time. His defense would make him a good guy to have in a league that trends heavily towards the double switch.
And these aren’t the only guys the Cubs could consider, nor are these the only teams who would likely be interested in giving up a pretty decent player that doesn’t fit into their plans for a year of Carlos Silva at no charge. If Silva emerges as a healthy starter this spring, I like his chances of winning a starting job… with the Mets. I just don’t see where he fits into the Cubs plans, and that’s not a bad thing. The best trades are the ones that benefit both teams, and that could perfectly describe a trade of Silva.