Starting pitching is always at a premium, especially during the mid-to-late July trade season. With Cliff Lee now off the market, Cubs' southpaw Ted Lilly takes over the title of most coveted starter available. He offers much more affordability than either Roy Oswalt and Dan Haren, both in terms of money and trade cost.
Lilly, 34, struck out ten Phillies across seven innings today, and will go to bed tonight the proud owner of a 4.07 ERA with a 6.49 K/9 and 2.16 BB/9. He missed the first few weeks of the season with a shoulder issue that appears to have robbed him of some velocity, but otherwise he's made at least 25 starts in every season since 2003. Lilly has plenty of experience in the American League, however he hasn't faced the DH regularly since 2006.
There's approximately $5.3M left on his contract this year, and he'll head onto the free agent market after the season as a Type-A free agent barring a total collapse in the second half. In theory, the Cubs would need to receive two prospects in a trade that are equal to or greater in value than the two high draft picks they would receive next year if they let Lilly walk as a free agent.
The Mets reportedly have interest in the southpaw after losing out on Lee, as do the Rays. The Twins and Tigers have also been mentioned as possible suitors. Minnesota has highly touted (and blocked) catching prospect Wilson Ramos to deal, and Tampa has more prospects than they know what to do with, so putting a package together won't be an issue for them.
Jarrod Washburn was in a similar situation last season, and was eventually traded for two good, but certainly not great prospects in Luke French and Mauricio Robles. Lilly has a better track record and has a little bit more money left on his deal, but the Washburn deal could serve as a guide for what the Cubs should expect in return.