Scott Feldman, one of the Chicago Cubs’ most obvious and notable trade chips this year, was due to start last night in Oakland. He did not make that start, obviously, as he was traded to the Baltimore Orioles earlier in the day. The relevance here? Well, actually, it’s relevant in more than a few ways, which we’ll explore below, but, for the purposes of this preamble, the relevance is merely superficial.
Matt Garza, one of the Chicago Cubs’ most obvious and notable trade chips this year, is due to start tonight in Oakland. Will he make that start? I actually tend to think the answer is yes, and the timing of the Feldman trade – its relative earliness, I mean – was tied in large part to the opening of the international market yesterday. No, the international pool dollars the Cubs got from Baltimore wasn’t the biggest piece of the return, but that was the piece that was time-sensitive. In other words, I’m defaulting to what I’ve said all along about the timing of a Garza deal: the Cubs won’t move him early unless they’re bowled over by an offer.
- As I said above, the Feldman trade impacts the Matt Garza trade story in a huge number of ways. First, it starts to set the market for rental starters. No, Feldman’s value is not quite in the same range as Garza’s, but it does offer a data point. Feldman (together with Clevenger as a throw-in) netted a former big-time prospect who hasn’t been able to put it together in the bigs (Arrieta), a very good but very down-this-year reliever (Strop), and a small amount of international pool money. As it was with Feldman, the presumption is that the Cubs will go after true prospect(s) in a Garza deal, so … what does the Feldman return tell us? Translating it to prospects, I’d have to say the Cubs got something like a prospect in the four to seven range in an average system (Arrieta) and a prospect in the 10 to 15 range (Strop). Garza would net a fair bit more, so I don’t see anything in this Feldman trade that suggests the Cubs couldn’t get at least two or three top 10 organizational prospects, one of whom is at the back-end of the top 100 overall. That should remain the baseline – the low mark – of what the Cubs shoot for.
- The Orioles, per reports, were never all that enamored with Garza. That one of the other available pitchers on the market went to them, then, does nothing to diminish the Garza market – which is a nice side benefit of the trade, and something the Cubs were probably considering. The Orioles are also slightly improved, possibly making the other AL East teams all the more interested in improving (the Red Sox and the Blue Jays, for example, have been connected in some fashion to Garza).
- (Speaking of the Red Sox, Boston Herald writer Michael Silverman further connects the Red Sox to Garza, saying that they’ve “always” been intrigued.)
- Further, Feldman’s sudden absence from the market will reduce the pool of available starters, which includes Garza, arguably at the top. And, deftly, the Cubs also removed Arrieta – a theoretical starting trade chip in his own right – from the market. (And, not to get too far off of Garza, the Cubs could always decide to shop Arrieta this month if they’d like. Jon Heyman says the Padres already tried to get him, but there’s a sense that the Cubs like, and want to keep, Arrieta.)
- Speaking of the Padres, GMs continue to wonder – to Bob Nightengale, that is – whether the fact that the Cubs and Padres have done so much business together before will push them together to make a Garza trade. Garza/Padres rumors have been around for quite a while now.
- On the flip side, Ken Rosenthal points out that the Padres have lost four in a row and eight of their last ten. He says it would be silly for them to acquire Garza if things keep going sour. That’s definitely true, but it’s worth countering that, even after that stretch, the Padres are still just 2.5 games out in the NL West, tied for third. It’s just a very, very winnable division – and a game or two might make the difference.