There’s going to be a spate of will-he-won’t-he-start rumors leading up to tonight’s games, but, as I discussed earlier, I’m not so sure it’ll be about Matt Garza’s start tonight against the A’s. Instead, I’m thinking it’s going to be about Ricky Nolasco, the Marlins righty who was nearly dealt before his last start, and is scheduled to go again tonight. Because I believe that a Nolasco deal will strongly impact the market for Garza, it’s a story line to watch closely.
- As of this moment, it looks like Nolasco will make his start, says Ken Rosenthal, and we’ll do this dance again in five days. Right now, sources tell Jayson Stark that the three teams in heaviest pursuit of Nolasco are the Dodgers, Rangers, and Rockies. If true, your rooting interest is for Nolasco to go to the Rockies, as they appear to be a poor fit as a trading partner for the Cubs and Garza. But Ken Rosenthal counters that the Rockies have lost interest in Nolasco after suffering some injuries of their own (presumably making them less confident about making a surprise run), and after the Marlins insisted on them taking on all of Nolasco’s salary. That said, even if Nolasco goes elsewhere in the NL West, it is such a winnable division with every team in competition that it could greatly increase the sense of urgency by other NL West teams to make a move (for example: acquiring Garza). In other words, it would be preferable for Nolasco to go to the Dodgers than the Rangers.
- Buster Olney has said, ominously, that the Marlins are starting to adjust their asking price on Nolasco, reflecting a desire to move him quickly. While a Nolasco trade as soon as possible is likely a good thing for the Cubs’ efforts in the coming weeks (Nolasco is getting dealt no matter what, so you’d rather it was now, rather than later in the month when he’s more likely to compete with the Cubs’ market), the Cubs no doubt want to see the Marlins get a very nice return. Although comparables are more important in real estate than they are in baseball trades, it matters at the margins.
- Ill-timed injuries don’t strike only the Cubs. The Twins have lost outfielder Josh Willingham for four to six weeks following arthroscopic knee surgery. He was shaping up to be one of the better right-handed outfield bats on the market, so his absence from that market (probably) could strengthen the Cubs’ position with respect to the suddenly hot-hitting Alfonso Soriano.
- Also an ill-timed injury: White Sox reliever Jesse Crain, possibly the best right-handed reliever on the market, is currently dealing with “shoulder stiffness.” That will be a story to watch, as Crain is clear competition on the market for Kevin Gregg (though Crain is probably in a higher tier). Bruce Levine just tweeted that Crain is going to hit the DL with the injury, which could virtually take him off the market altogether.
- Speaking of the White Sox and (the bullet before) right-handed outfield trade possibilities, Alex Rios might be the other best one out there. He’s got no-trade rights, and the Yankees, Diamondbacks, Rockies, Royals, Astros and Athletics are the teams to which he can block trades, per Mark Gonzalez. There’s a little help there, potentially, if there ends up being overlap in the Cubs’ efforts to trade Soriano. Although he probably wouldn’t accept a trade to the Royals, Soriano would likely accept a deal to the Yankees if they came calling. Then again, so might Rios. Probably not much impact here.
- I biffed on sharing this sooner, but BN’er jh03 transcribed a recent Jed Hoyer MLBN Radio interview over at the Message Board, and it definitely has a rumor-heavy bent.
- Speaking of Hoyer, he reminded folks why sometimes trades don’t happen until the last minute, even if your team is clearly selling and even if a rental player is more valuable to his new team today than he would be four weeks from now (per CSN): “Everyone always looks at that question from a seller’s side. It also depends on the buyer’s side. Some teams want to wait until the very end to see if they’re in the race or not. And some teams clearly think they’re in the race early to where they want to solidify that position. Some of that is dependent on the other side deciding: ‘Hey, these are players we want and we want them back now.’ As opposed to: ‘Let’s wait and see what position we’re in on [July 31].’”