With Brandon Webb officially off the market, if the Chicago Cubs are going to make a starting pitching move, it’s going to be via trade. You’ve already heard about the two primary names – Tampa Bay’s Matt Garza and Cleveland’s Fausto Carmona – and, at last check, things were pretty much at a standstill on both fronts.

But that was before Webb came off the market. So, where do things stand now? Eh. About the same.

Two potential pitchers may still be available via trade. The Cubs continue to have conversations with the Tampa Bay Rays about Matt Garza. It’s unclear if Tampa will try to move Garza for minor-league talent or retain him. Garza, 27, is scheduled to make close to $6 million in 2011, his second year of arbitration.

Knowing the economic woes of the Rays, it would probably work in their benefit to trade Garza, who has two years left under team control before free agency in 2013. Garza could bring up to as many as three or four solid prospects in a trade. Tampa Bay wants a future shortstop and catcher that they can project to the big leagues in the next couple of seasons.

If the Cubs and Tampa are able to come to an agreement, minor league catcher Robinson Chirinos and shortstop Hak-Ju Lee would probably be in the deal. Chirrinos hit over .300 with 18 home runs and 74 RBIs in just 300 at-bats at Double-A Tennessee and Triple-A Iowa in 2010. Lee hit .282 at Single-A Peoria and is considered the top defensive shortstop in the system.

The Cubs believe Lee is a major league shortstop of the future and may eventually push his way into the Cubs lineup, moving Starlin Castro over to third base if he continues to develop and Castro gets bigger and stronger as he approaches his mid-20s.

Even though the Rangers signed Webb, they may be interested in trading for Garza as are Washington and the New York Yankees.

Cleveland’s Fausto Carmona has been mentioned in trade talks as well. The Cubs and Indians had talks at one time about Carmona. However, the Indians are said to be asking for teams’ top two prospects just to get started in serious discussions. ESPN Chicago.

All of this jibes with what I’ve heard separately about a possible Garza trade. Namely, the Rays are now reticent to move Garza before the trade deadline, in the hopes that some heavy-hitter farm systems will be opened to the Rays by then. Further, Hak-Ju Lee was likely the sticking point between the teams in earlier trade discussions – the Cubs view him not just as a future MLB starter, but they view him as a future MLB star (note that Levine suggests Lee could push Castro to 3B, not 2B – that’s the first I’d heard of that, and, if true, leaves open the question of Josh Vitters’ future).

As for Carmona, it’s hard to understand the Indians asking for more for him – a less consistent, more expensive version of Garza – than the Rays are asking for Garza.

  • BT

    Castro to 3rd makes no sense. Unless he has power we haven’t seen, his bat plays as above average for a middle infielder, but pretty pedestrian as a corner infielder.

    • pfk (Peter F. Kempf)

      My guess is that he meant to say 2nd base. Castro makes no sense at all at third. At second his speed and range will be important. At third, it would be lost, to say nothing of not being a power hitter.

      • Ace

        I don’t think it was a typo – he mentions Castro getting bigger and stronger. That, to me, suggests Levine really did mean 3B. Doesn’t make much sense to me.

    • Ace

      Agreed. Some say he’s got the frame of a young Hanley Ramirez (who could obviously hold down 3B, bat-wise), but that’s a whole lot of projection for a 20/21 year old. Let him learn the middle infield, and we’ll see what happens with his body and his bat.

  • Dave Smith

    Castro will play were he is told or he will be shipped back to eatting bananas for dinner.

    • Ace

      Am I missing something, or was that, like, kinda racist?

      • ed

        I’d call it nationalist, I think they do eat bananas down there in Parador.

        • Ace

          I could be wrong, but I think Chiquita ships to the States now.

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