The 2012 Cubs are an example of both risk and the reward of waiting until just before the trading deadline to move players you want to move.
Until last night, the Cubs' decisions to hold onto some of their veterans was looking disastrous. Matt Garza, who could've been traded in the offseason — and likely brought back quite a haul — had hurt his value by pitching unspectacularly and then hurt it more by getting hurt. Ryan Dempster's value had only increased in 2012 ... that is, until he nixed a trade to the Braves, denying the Cubs a chance at prospect Randall Delgado, and cost whatever team eventaully acquires him at least a start or two he'd have made for Atlanta if the original deal hadn't fallen apart.
Last night, Team Theo finally struck a pair of deals — and at least one looks like a major win, to me, for the Cubs. Paul Maholm was just supposed to be rotation filler when he signed a one-year, $4.25-million deal with a team option with the Cubs in January. Instead he's been more valuable than Garza, per Fangraphs WAR, and the Cubs somehow turned him (and Reed Johnson) into a preseason top-50 prospect (Arodys Vizcaino) and a relief prospect (Jaye Chapman) from the Braves.
There are some concerns with what the Cubs did last night. The primary one is Vizcaino's health — he underwent season-ending Tommy John surgery in April. And I can't say I'm in love with the Cubs' other Monday deal, which sent Geovany Soto to Texas. I know his star has fallen, significantly, but there's not a lot of benefit to the Cubs giving Soto away for a 24-year-old non-prospect (Jacob Brigham) and picking up a chunk of his salary.
But Vizcaino's health is probably the only reason the Braves even considered parting with him for a Maholm/Johnson package. Plus, it's not as if Tommy John surgery is anything close to a death sentence for a pitcher's career these days. And while I'm underwhelmed by the return on Soto (I know you're not getting much for him, but the Cubs didn't really get anything), dumping him does allow the Cubs to bring up, and play, possible catcher of the future Welington Castillo.
Bottom line, Monday was a good day for the Cubs' front office. They'll still need today to be a good day, too, for their deadline dealing to be considered a success.