Carlos Villanueva is one of the favorites to get the fifth-starter job while Jake Arrieta comes back from injury. That being said, there are likely many teams out there looking for a rotation band aid. Villanueva fits that role perfectly and can transition back to the pen once the injured player recovers or there’s a more talented prospect ready to fill that spot. Considering the pitching injuries the Athletics, Braves, Rangers and Diamondbacks have sustained this spring, all could be options. I’m guessing he’d garner a top 15-25 prospect in an organization. Carlos is under contract through the end of this season, so it seems likely that the Cubs will be listening to offers from other teams on him throughout the year if he’s not traded before opening day.
Braves trade suggestion: Villanueva for RHP Wes Parsons
Parsons put up good numbers starting in low A last year as a raw undrafted 21-year-old. His fastball can hit the mid 90s and he also throws a solid slider and a developing change, all of which he commands well. He may end up in the pen.
Diamondbacks trade suggestion: Villanueva for RHP Geordy Parra
Parra has seen time as both a reliever and starter, but I’m assuming the Cubs would try him out as a starter. He throws a mid 90s fastball to go with a developing splitter and changeup.
Athletics trade suggestion: Villanueva for RHP Ronald Herrera
Undersized at 5’10", Herrera throws a low 90s sinking fastball to go with a solid curve ball and changeup. Herrera has outstanding control and is very athletic with the potential to add strength.
Rangers trade suggestion: Villanueva for RHP David Ledbetter
Ledbetter was drafted in 2013 in the third round, so he’d have to be included as a PTBNL. He throws a low 90s fastball, an average curveball and a developing changeup, all of which he commands well.
The Cubs pitching depth has already been challenged a bit this spring with the injuries to Arrieta and James McDonald. I think they'll want to move Villanueva at some point in the season, particularly because Kyle Hendricks may be ready to get some big league time at the end of the year. The question is, are the Cubs willing to compromise their pitching depth at the start of the year? To get a trade done this spring, a team may need to include a player a touch better than shown above to get Villanueva from the Cubs due to the Cubs' rotation injuries.