Could Randy Wells Be Traded?
The strong-point of the 2012 Chicago Cubs rotation figures to be their starting rotation. With the likes of Matt Garza, Ryan Dempster, Paul Maholm, Travis Wood, Chris Volstad, and Randy Wells all labeled as starting pitchers; the team is in position where they can afford to deal one starter during Spring Training or early on in the season. The common prediction for the pitcher to be traded would be Garza. After all, Garza has been the subject of endless trade rumors throughout the off-season. Lately, however, the talk circulating around has suggested that is may be more likely that Garza signs an extension with the club rather than be traded. Though, an extension would not necessarily preclude Garza from being traded.
But the fact remains that the Cubs have six starting pitchers that could be on their 25 man roster by the time Opening Day comes around. That number is not including Casey Coleman, Andy Sonnanstine, NatE. Robertson, or Jeff Samardzija. Also, Cubs’ fans should not forget about Trey McNutt–who will likely make his Major League debut at some point this season.
With all those pitchers in the fold, it stands likely that the Cubs will make at least one roster this Spring that will reduce the number of starter’s that the Cubs have on their pitching staff?
The question now becomes who will be the pitcher to go? It is entirely likely that the Cubs could cut Sonnanstine. Robertson, in addition to optioning either Wells, Volstad, or Wood down to Iowa. While it is entirely possible that Sonnanstine and/or Robertson could be cut this Spring, I don’t see it being a realistic scenario that one of the three in Wells, Volstad, or Wood will be sent to Iowa.
By process of elimination, it is easy to determine who the most likely trade candidate is on the Cubs’ rotation right now. As I mentioned with Garza, despite the numerous trade rumors that had the 27 year old going from Detroit to Toronto, it is likely that the Cubs will wait until July to make an attempt to move the starting pitcher. Ryan Dempster has the ability to reject any trade that includes him, and Dempster does not seem to be willing to waive that clause. The Cubs are not going to trade Paul Maholm anytime soon considering the team signed him to a free agent contract this winter. The same can be said about Wood and Volstad, both of whom the Cubs acquired via a trade this off-season. Jeff Samardzija, on the other hand, offers the Cubs too much value as a reliever going forward in the long-term.
Enter Randy Wells, whose up and down seasons recently have led to many Cubs’ fans questioning whether he is a long-term fit for the Cubs. Wells started 23 games for the Cubs in 2011, pitching to a record of 7-6 to go along with an ERA of 4.99. Wells’ 2010 season was not much better either as the 4 year veteran posted a record of 8-14 to go along with an ERA of 4.26 in 32 starts with the Cubs.
At this point, Wells may still be in the same category as Wood and Volstad. That category being starting pitchers have yet to prove they can establish sustained success on the Major League level. The one disadvantage Wells would have in comparison to Wood and Volstad is that he is 29 years old while Wood and Volstad are 25. That age difference is the likely reason why Wells appears to be a likely trade candidate.
It is my prediction that the Cubs’ starting rotation will be Garza, Dempster, Maholm, Wood, and Volstad. That would mean that Wells would either be destined for the bullpen or for the Iowa Cubs’ starting rotation. For that reason, I believe Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer may look to trade Wells before the season starts.