As the operator of this site, I’m sensitive to the twin interests of getting you my thoughts on every bit of salient Cubs-related info out there in a timely fashion, while simultaneously not inundating you with so much that it all becomes noise and you grow irritated. Never is that risk more prevalent than during trade rumor season (and free agency). To that end, I’m cognizant of the fact that there have been a ton of rumors and Lukewarm Stoves the last 10 days or so, and I was starting to wonder if it was just me, or if the market was going rumor crazy very early this year. It sounds like Dodgers GM Ned Colletti answered for me in a comment to Jim Bowden: “There have been far more serious trade discussions five weeks away from July 31st deadline than I can ever recall.”
So, it isn’t just me, and that’s why you’re getting a Lukewarm Stove in the middle of a Cubs game …
- As I mentioned yesterday, the Marlins and Ricky Nolasco might end up kicking off the trade market, and if a report from ESPN is accurate, it could happen very, very soon. (Jon Heyman confirms that the talks are happening.) A source tells ESPN that the Dodgers and Marlins are already “deep into trade talks” about Nolasco. The Dodgers are a possible destination for the Cubs’ available arms and this would probably close the Dodgers off as a trading partner, but Nolasco going to the NL West is a good thing. Every team is in the race, and the Dodgers moving early could compel each of the other teams to aggressively pursue an upgrade (creating a ripple effect, putting the Cubs in the catbird seat).
- One of the big arms the Cubs have to follow up a Nolasco deal is Matt Garza, who is pitching today in front of a huge number of scouts. Carrie Muskat says the Nationals, Dodgers, Orioles, Blue Jays and Phillies are all represented in Milwaukee, though it probably isn’t a lock that the scouts are there to see only Matt Garza.
- George Ofman says that the Rangers are very interested in Garza (recall, they were heavily in on him last year before his elbow owwie), and could make a move as soon as this weekend. To that end, Garza’s start (and health) today could be even more important. I sense an “Obsessive Matt Garza Trade Watch” in the offing, and it makes me a little sad.
- In a writeup on the state of the Braves’ bullpen (injured), Braves beat writer Mark Bowman suggests that the Braves will have interest in Cubs closer Kevin Gregg, should he be shopped. No real surprise there – I’d be shocked if there was a competitive team in baseball with bullpen needs that would not have at least some interest in Gregg. He’s cheap, he’s a perfect rental, and he’s performing exceptionally well. The Cubs aren’t going to get a ton for Gregg, but there will be interested teams.
- In a bummer for baseball/the Orioles, top pitching prospect Dylan Bundy, who’s been out with arm issues this year, is having Tommy John surgery. This is of significance on the trade market not only because it removes Bundy as a trade chip (he was never going to be traded anyway (and if he was, it’s not like the Cubs are afraid to take on a Tommy John pitcher)), but because it could impact the Orioles’ plans. They now cannot hope for Bundy to be ready in the second half, and this could push them even further into the we-desperately-need-a-pitcher mode. Then again, as BN’er North Side Irish pointed out in the comments, it could make the Orioles more inclined to pursue a pitcher with at least another year of control left, since they’ll be sans Bundy in 2014. The only tradable Cub who fits that bill is Carlos Villanueva, a name were aren’t hearing too much in rumors.
- Mark Teixeira is done for the year because his ongoing wrist problems will require surgery. Without Teix, Kevin Youkilis, Curtis Granderson, or ARod for an extended period of time, you’ve got to believe the Yankees are desperately searching for some thump on the trade market. Alfonso Soriano? Nate Schierholtz? Too bad Ian Stewart didn’t work out, otherwise he’d be a really nice trade chip to have right now. Of course, if he had worked out, we’d probably want to see him stick around, and we wouldn’t have seen the emergence of Luis Valbuena.
- Tim Dierkes chatted at MLBTR, and there were a number of Cubs bits … (1) the Garza/Padres rumor makes a lot of sense given the fit, but Reymond Fuentes doesn’t make sense as the center piece of a deal – the Cubs would aim higher; (2) extremely difficult to see the Cubs getting anything at all for Carlos Marmol; (3) Dierkes sees the Nationals going after a big arm like Garza (or others in that same class); (3) Scott Feldman’s trade value isn’t quite as high as Paul Maholm’s was last year (extra year of control, longer successful track record), but if the Cubs sweeten the pot with a Ryan Sweeney type, they might be able to get an Arodys Vizcaino-like return (to which I’d note that the Cubs did sweeten the pot last year with Reed Johnson, a reserve outfield rental like Sweeney would be, though Sweeney might offer just a touch more value than Johnson); (4) the Cubs would probably have a lot of interest in buying low on Will Middlebrooks from the Red Sox if there was a matchup on a deal; and (5) Dierkes isn’t sure the Cubs could land a top 100 prospect for Nate Schierholtz, but definitely an “interesting” piece (you’ll call me crazy, but given the 2014 outfield configuration and the cheap year of control left, I’m not sure I’d want the Cubs dealing Schierholtz for less than that – he offers a lot of value to the 2014 Cubs; not that I’m saying he *could* net a top 100 prospect).