The vogue rumor developing last night and into today has the Chicago Cubs in discussions with the Texas Rangers about Matt Garza. This, of course, is a rumor we’ve been discussing here for weeks.
And nothing has changed. They’re still talking.
The Cubs have been in contact with the Rangers about Garza – among other teams – for a while now. As various free agent decisions played out, those discussions necessarily ebb and flow, with each side more or less incentivized to make a move depending on what is happening. There was never a rush from either side’s perspective, and that hasn’t changed – although things have ebbed a bit more with CJ Wilson leaving the Rangers in favor of their division rival.
A source involved in the talks says that, while no offers are currently on the table, some of the prospects who interest the Cubs should be no surprise: they include third baseman Mike Olt, pitcher Neil Ramirez, and pitcher Martin Perez, three of the top five prospects in a very, very good Rangers system. All are young, but on the verge – within a year or two – of being ready for the big leagues.
Bruce Levine adds that the Cubs have discussed pitcher Scott Feldman, a capable 28-year-old pitcher who didn’t pitch much in 2011 due to pre-season knee surgery. When he came back, he was effective, but pitched mostly out of the pen. He’s slated to make $6.5 million in 2012 (he has a $9.25 million team option in 2013 with a $600k buyout), so it’s not as though he’s a cheap player. To the extent he would be included in a Matt Garza trade, he would not only be the main return, he’d really be more of a “ok, we’ll take Feldman if you aren’t going to use him” part of the deal. The Cubs will need pitching depth if they move Garza, so taking back a player like Feldman, in addition to the prospects (which would be the main reason for the deal), makes sense. For what it’s worth, the team source with whom I spoke said that, yes, Feldman’s name has come up. My guess is that many, many names come up in discussions like this.
Ken Rosenthal reports that the Rangers are not confident they can land Garza, however, because of the Cubs’ asking price. And, if the Cubs are asking for the three aforementioned prospects – yeah, that’s a really steep asking price. For that reason, among others, the odds that a deal is ultimately consummated with the Rangers is low (as it always is in these kind of trade situations – keep that perspective in mind).
But you can appreciate the Cubs’ position. While competing in 2012 will be difficult, the NL Central will always be a winnable division, particularly if the Cardinals are about to have a down year. They will not trade Garza for something short of a haul – whether you compare it to the return in the Zack Greinke trade last year, or to what the Cubs gave up to get Garza, the Cubs aren’t going to settle for much less. With the Rangers facing a vastly improved Angels team, and without many great options out there for adding to their rotation (a very expensive bid for Yu Darvish or a very expensive trade for Gio Gonzalez are the two best options, besides Garza), perhaps they start to think about acceding to the Cubs’ steep demands.
Garza is scheduled to make about $8.5 million in 2012, his third of four arbitration years. If the Cubs do trade him, it is more about improving for 2013 and beyond than about improving in 2012, I’ll concede. But, if the Cubs pick up multiple parts, and use that $8.5 million wisely, it is conceivable that the Cubs could be just as good in 2012 as if they’d kept Garza – all with 2013 and beyond looking much, much brighter.
While the Rangers have been the most visible potential trade partner for the Cubs – in part because of their connection to Garza last year at this time, before he was traded to the Cubs – there are undoubtedly other teams with interest.