I was simultaneously relieved and annoyed to wake up to no new Matt Garza rumor bits. (Aside: seriously, can you imagine what it must be like to be one of these players involved in incessant rumors? It can’t be easy, and once again, all due praise to Garza for handling it as well as he has.)
But it sounds like, although the nearly-completed Cubs/Rangers deal hit a “snag” last night, the two teams continue to try to make it work today. Jon Heyman reports that there’s still a chance that a deal gets done – presumably this weekend, in advance of Garza’s scheduled start on Monday – between the Cubs and Rangers.
That said, like a high school relationship turned sour, Heyman indicates that the teams understand that they are free to explore other options out there. The Rangers have been rumored to be exploring back-up plans including Bud Norris from the Astros, and the Cubs have been connected to many more teams than the Rangers with respect to Garza.
While the Rangers still make strong sense as a fit for Garza, there are other fish in the sea, as far as the Cubs are concerned. It doesn’t sound like any medical issues that snagged yesterday’s day were on the Cubs’ side, so their asset remains the best on the market.
As far as the Rangers go, there are rumors out there about which prospect is dealing with what “snag”-inducing medical issue (assuming that reports that the issue is on the Rangers’ side to begin with), but I don’t really want to speculate too much about a kid’s health. The Rangers have a deep system, and, although they appear reluctant to part with their elite talent, I suspect they could still put together a competitive package even if one of the original prospects is no longer in the deal. According to T.R. Sullivan this morning, the Rangers are, indeed, looking for a second player from the Cubs in the Garza deal – a player they can control beyond this year. James Russell was mentioned in reports yesterday, and, with two years of control left, he fits that bill. He would also, to my mind, increase the Rangers’ price in this deal significantly.
So, where do we stand? Well, somewhere more advanced than we were on Thursday when reports had the Cubs calling for “best and final” offers. We know that the Cubs and Rangers have had very advanced talks, and essentially came to an agreement before medicals threw up a (temporary?) roadblock. We know that many teams are interested in Garza, and we suspect that the Cubs are still in contact with those teams. I guess it’s back to playing the waiting game.
UPDATE: Word out of Texas (T.R. Sullivan) is that the story is the same: the deal isn’t dead, and it’s being worked on. It might happen, it might not. A non-update, really, but one that still kind of provides a useful confirmation from the Rangers’ side that they still want Garza.
UPDATE 2 (1:32pm CT): Sullivan with another helpful confirmation from the Texas side that, yes, as we’ve heard, the “snag” involved the medicals of a Rangers prospect in the deal. Sullivan’s sources say the medical concern was not major, but was “fair.” Sullivan mentions that, previously, Mike Olt had been dealing with some vision issues earlier this year, and Neil Ramirez has had shoulder issues in the past. The Cubs and Rangers are still working at an alternative deal.
UPDATE 3 (1:44pm CT): Cleveland reporter Matt Loede says that he’s hearing if the Rangers don’t get the deal done for Garza today, it won’t happen at all, “which could open the door for the Indians.” Now, that could be a little bit of wishcasting, or it could be a reflection that the Rangers are going to make the best offer they can, considering the medicals, and that’ll be that before moving on to a back-up plan. For the Cubs’ part, they probably don’t feel quite the same urgency as the Rangers, because there are other suitors out there (like the Indians). That said, if the Cubs felt like the Indians were going to offer a better package than the Rangers right now, would they really be waiting to engage the Indians in serious discussions until after a deal can’t be completed with the Rangers? Put differently, I wonder if the Rangers’ offer (well, range of offers) is clearly superior to the “best and final” offers of other teams, and that’s why the Cubs are still at the table despite their reservations about the medicals.
UPDATE 4 (2:35pm CT): Jeff Wilson says it’s status quo, with no new headway made in the impasse today. The deal, according to Wilson, was indeed Olt, Ramirez, Edwards, and Sardinas for Garza and another Cub (generally believed to be James Russell, but Wilson does not say).
UPDATE 5 (2:38pm CT): Ken Rosenthal just reported on Fox that the A’s are now trying to jump into the Garza fray. That makes sense, as just about any interested team should now be calling the Cubs. Problem is, if you’re an interested team and you know the Cubs found a package they liked (but which was flawed by an injury concern or two), you’re “checking in” to see if the Cubs will take slightly less now to just get the deal done. The Cubs, of course, will hold firm – though the price it’ll take to get the deal done has now widely been reported. That doesn’t necessarily help their position, but they’ve still got the asset that many teams want. Information isn’t going to scuttle their return. (And, if you’re going to have teams jumping in, the A’s might be as good as it gets, since they might provide just a touch more motivation for their divisional counterpart, the Rangers.)
UPDATE 6 (4:43pm CT): Danny Knobler writes that, despite the uncertainty surrounding Clay Buchholz’s return, the Red Sox still aren’t prioritizing acquiring a starting pitcher (they’re focused on a reliever). As I’ve said before, the Red Sox sure would make a nice trading partner for Garza given the Cubs’ familiarity with their system and the large number of high-quality, upper-level pitching prospects they have. But if they aren’t biting, they aren’t biting. This could all be spin to cover up desperation, of course.
UPDATE 7 (5:31pm CT): Bruce Levine says the rumors have slowed, and Garza is busy getting himself ready for Monday’s start.
UPDATE 8 (8:55pm CT): Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer says the Cubs asked for third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall in a deal for Matt Garza (a player to whom the Cubs have been connected in the past), and the Indians declined. I wouldn’t read too much into the Cubs’ pursuit of Chisenhall (or Mike Olt) with respect to him being a young third baseman, and the Cubs having just drafted Kris Bryant. This is about getting talent at a position where the Cubs could stand to immediately install a young player (and maybe shift Luis Valbuena to second, opening up the opportunity to shop Darwin Barney). I am not completely enamored with Chisenhall, so I’m not too broken up by this report. I also understand the Indians’ position, because they likely need Chisenhall as much right now as they need Garza. Which, by the way, is a lot – Hoynes goes to great lengths to discuss just how much the Indians could use Garza. Well, then, step up your offer, boys. Here’s your shot. (Hoynes mentions that the Indians also will likely focus on picking up a lefty reliever at the deadline …. )