Matt Garza is the clear-cut ace of the Cubs' pitching staff.

Jim Hendry mortgaged three top prospects (and two other players) to lure Garza from Tampa Bay to Chicago.

Jed Hoyer and Theo Epstein continually stress the need for "run prevention" as the focal point of turning this Cubs team around.

So why trade your best pitcher?

They might not, but they're at least talking about it:

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Bruce Levine Rangers and cubs conversations on Matt Garza for top prospects . No match yet
Dec 08 via Twitter for iPhoneFavoriteRetweetReply

 

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DKnobler Rangers are indeed trying for Garza (as they did last yr). First reported by @ESPNChiCubs
Dec 08 via Twitter for iPadFavoriteRetweetReply

 

That's hardly an indicator a deal will get done. They're not even close right now. Look at how many times Pujols was close to signing and he hadn't as of this writing. Look at how many times the Cubs-Rockies Ian Stewart deal was discussed and that may not go down.

The Rangers are looking for another pitcher and with C.J. Wilson possibly signing in Miami or L.A. and Mark Buehrle having already committed to rejoining Ozzie with the Marlins, there isn't much out there in the free agent market.

Gio Gonzalez and others are available via trade, but they may come at too high an asking price.

I can only hope the Cubs demand a huge package if they do deal Garza. They should be asking for a king's ransom at this stage for a 28-year-old under team control for two more seasons.

I still don't think Garza will get dealt, but he is the Cubs' best bargaining chip by far. It's something to pay close attention to, for sure.