If we aren’t in the home stretch of Garza rumors, it’s going to be a long couple weeks …
- Dave Kaplan has turned his full attentions to the Matt Garza trade story, which means we’re getting a fair bit of new info. The latest from Kaplan has the Rangers, Cardinals, Pirates, Indians, Blue Jays, and Dodgers as the “strongest pursuers,” but other teams still interested. From the sound of things, a personnel executive with whom Kaplan spoke believes the Rangers, Blue Jays, and Cardinals may have the most incentive to go after Garza.
- The Red Sox don’t appear on Kaplan’s list, and that is consistent with a new report out of Boston. A source tells Sean McAdam that the Red Sox do not “figure to be big players” in the fight for Garza. The Cubs have apparently been asking for two prospects from the following group of pitchers: Allen Webster, Rubby de la Rosa, Matt Barnes, Brandon Workman, Henry Owens, and Anthony Ranaudo. (Damn, the Red Sox have a really nice group of pitching prospects.) A source tells McAdam that the Red Sox weren’t even willing to part with one from that group in a deal over the offseason (for anyone, or for Garza? The report is unclear), and they aren’t about to send any of them away now for a rental. It would be a bummer if the Red Sox are out of it, given the obvious depth of their system (we haven’t even talked about their upper level infield surplus) and the Cubs’ front office’s familiarity with that system. One from that group of pitchers and, say, Garin Cecchini? Yes, please.
- The Red Sox are in, according to Jim Bowden. He adds the Rangers, Nationals, Diamondbacks, Rockies, and maybe Indians. Not a lot of overlap with Kaplan’s list, which is probably good news. I’ve got to believe, though, that at this stage in the process, only a small handful of teams believe they have a legit shot at acquiring Garza. Maybe the rest of the teams have simply said, “Hey, Cubs, before you deal him, give us a chance to make one last offer,” even if they aren’t actively involved in negotiations. Can’t hurt, though.
- Between Kaplan and Bowden, there are as many as 10 involved teams: Rangers, Blue Jays, Cardinals, Pirates, Indians, Dodgers, Red Sox, Nationals, Diamondbacks, and Rockies.
- Dallas-based T.R. Sullivan, who reports for MLB.com, says that Rangers top pitching prospect Martin Perez, who has been pitching well in the bigs for the last few weeks, will not be traded in a Garza deal. “That’s not going to happen.” The names Sullivan says could be included are pitchers Neil Ramirez or Carlos Pimentel, and/or infielders Leury Garcia or Luis Sardinas. That’s not a specific package, mind you, those are just the names he says could be included. While all are legit prospects, they are lower-tier-stock-down types. Even if the Cubs got all four for Garza, I’m not sure you’d be happy with that package.
- I offer this NBC Dallas piece not for the truth of the matter asserted (sorry for the legalism, sometimes it slips out), but instead for the color it provides. When a Cubs player is frequently connected to a particular team, I like to see how their local media is discussing the situation to get a sense of how they view the involved Cubs player. It helps me stay grounded, and also sometimes provides a little insight. In that article, which generically asserts that the Rangers are considered the frontrunner for Garza (probably true, but there’s no support offered), the author describes Garza not as an ace or a panacea for the Rangers, but says he would slot into the rotation just behind ace Yu Darvish. Martin Perez is described optimistically as a part of the rotation over the rest of the season (meaning, to locals, he’s not even plausibly considered as part of a trade for Garza, consistent with Sullivan’s report). Mike Olt is described as what would “almost certainly” be the “start” of a package for Garza – not because his star has fallen, but because he’s blocked at third base by Adrian Beltre.
- Speaking of Olt, it has become generally accepted that, if the Cubs do deal with the Rangers, he’s going to be in the deal (though Sullivan didn’t mention him). The hope, given his .211/.312/.399 line at AAA, his impending 25th birthday, and his reported vision problems, is that Olt would not be the centerpiece of a Garza deal, but merely one of about three quality prospects coming the Cubs’ way. If the vision issue is correctable, then Olt is still something close to the guy who broke out last year and found his way into most top 30 prospect lists (that’d be top 30 in all of baseball). He’s got a good bat and a great glove at third, and would be dirt cheap through his prime years. That’s a fine piece in a Garza deal, and represents a “buy low” opportunity. Worry not about what adding Olt would mean for Bryant/Villanueva/Baez/whoever. You add talent when you can add talent, and you deal with the positional glutting issues later. The real issue here is whether Olt is the main piece or just one of several quality pieces. (Despite his fall, it’s worth noting that he’s still a top 50 prospect (No. 44) to Baseball America).
- A source tells Jim Bowden that there’s an 80 percent chance Garza is dealt before his next start. That’s the same percentage Bowden’s colleague Buster Olney put on a Garza deal this week the other day, which means either they’ve got the same source, their sources have the same originating source, Bowden’s source is a Buster Olney fan, or Bowden’s source is Buster Olney.
- More Garza stuff from Joel Sherman. A panel of anonymous execs feel like Garza is the best player who will be traded this month, and the most likely destination is, you guessed it, the Rangers. Let’s just hope Sullivan is wrong about the players that could/would be involved in such a deal.