What We've Got
Here are our trade chips, ranked by value, according to my estimation:
1) Ted Lilly
I almost ranked Tom Gorzelanny ahead of Ted before removing him from my list of trade chips. Because even if Tom is good, what are you hoping the team will get back for him?
Prospects, you say? Well, tell me why prospects are good for a team. You should answer with something like, "Because good younger players might continue to get better -- plus they're cheap compared to free agents."
On that note, how much younger, cheaper, and more talented can you get than Tom Gorzelanny? He's clearly a capable starter, and he's dirt cheap for the next two years. He'd be a perfect trade chip if the Cubs were a contender looking to pick up a pricey piece to fill in a hole in the line-up. But the Cubs want cheap talented youth, and by jove that's exactly what they've got with Gorzo.
On the other hand, Ted Lilly is not young. And he is most certainly not cheap. He also has an advantage over the #2 man on this list in that he has a track record of success. Let's move him for prospects!
2) Carlos Silva
Not young. Maybe talented? And actually, contrary to Rob's assertion, not an albatross: he's only owed $6 million in 2011 (thank you, Mariners, for picking up the tab). At that price, he could be a useful stopgap for one more year, so it might make sense to hold on to him. But it's that smaller price tag that would likely make him more valuable to other teams as well.
3) Marlon Byrd
I have him third because I figure starting pitchers are more valuable than outfielders. Plus, Byrd's bound to come down even further from his crazy April numbers.
Regardless, the man can clearly defend, has some pop in his bat, and was signed to an extremely reasonable contract this offseason: he's owed $5.5 million next year, and $6.5 million the year after that.
He's a guy that can bring your borderline team marginally closer to the playoffs, but since the Cubs aren't really close to borderline he doesn't really fit in Chicago. So move him to San Francisco for a Double A pitcher.
4) Kosuke Fukudome
Plays superior defense in right field and gets on-base at an above-average rate. Sure, that's valuable. Worth $13 million a year? Certainly not. So the Cubs would have to give up money to move him. But if a trade would net decent prospects, the team's gonna be paying him anyway, so why not open up an everyday spot for Colvin?
Derrek Lee has a no-trade clause, and I just don't see him moving this year. Xavier Nady probably isn't enough of an upgrade to be worth much on the market, plus he's a free agent next year.
No other trades make sense for the Cubs.