If Friday was a pins-and-needles-follow-every-update-breathlessly kind of rumor day, then Saturday was a considerably more relaxed, excitement-temporarily-fading kind of day.
With the Cubs and Rangers nearly striking a deal involving Matt Garza and prospects on Friday before a “snag” related to medical reports held things up, the two sides continued to work on a deal yesterday. No deal came, and now we’re left to wonder whether you can fairly categorize the Rangers even as the frontrunner anymore.
This morning’s report from Jon Heyman suggests that, although the Rangers are still in the mix, it probably would no longer be fair to say that they’re much more likely to get Garza than any other suitor. Garza is scheduled to start tomorrow night for the Cubs in Arizona, and, although reports gave Garza no more than a 10 or 20% chance of making that start for the Cubs as of last week, it now looks like a strong possibility.
In that regard, you could view mid-day tomorrow as another kind of deadline in the protracted Garza rumor story line. The Cubs are clearly ready to move Garza, and would probably prefer to do so before he starts again. But if the rest of the non-Ranger suitors aren’t willing to come up with an offer that matches whatever level of talent the Cubs believed they were set to get from the Rangers, it might just behoove the Cubs to roll and dice with another Garza start, and see who blinks first. Indeed, it’s possible that other involved teams are content to wait and see how the market plays out over the next week before making a serious offer or increasing one they’ve already made.
The balancing act here is whether the Cubs project that the upside from where offers currently stand to where they could go in a week will significantly outweigh the slight additional risk in letting Garza make another start for the Cubs. At least we suspect, at this point, that his medicals look good.
UPDATE: Jim Bowden was on the radio this morning, and he offered a plausible explanation for not only how things broke down on Friday with the Rangers, but also how he reported that Neil Ramirez was the “centerpiece” of the trade, and was scratched-but-then-not-scratched. Recall, late afternoon on Friday, when a deal with the Rangers appeared imminent, Jim Bowden reported two things that caused a stir: first, he reported that Ramirez – a lesser prospect – was the “centerpiece” of the trade with the Rangers, and second, he reported that Ramirez had been scratched from his start on Friday night, thus indicating a deal was done. By the end of the night, Ramirez had not been scratched, and the package that emerged (Olt/Sardinas/Edwards/Ramirez) arguably had Ramirez as the least valuably piece. How could Bowden have biffed so badly? Well, as he explains/hypothesizes (this is not all according to sources, and he admits he’s doing some deducing), with Ramirez scheduled to start, it’s possible that the Cubs had some concerns about Ramirez’s shoulder, and wanted to see him start one more time. If so, that could explain the scratched-then-not-scratched report, as well as Bowden’s apparent confusion about Ramirez being the “centerpiece.” Under this narrative, it wasn’t that Ramirez was the “centerpiece,” it was more that he was the “lynchpin.” A healthy, good-looking Ramirez on Friday, Bowden speculates, and the deal gets done. He got roughed up in the start and probably didn’t look good in the process, and the Cubs wanted a replacement player. From there, no fit is found, and the talks die down. So, what do we think? Saving face? Legitimate? It’s certainly plausible, though we still don’t know for sure which prospect’s medicals caused the Cubs to pull back. There’s a lot of guesswork here.
UPDATE 2 (12:24pm CT): The update in which you know, for certain, that you’re obsessing. Jon Morosi reports – according to sources – that the Cubs would prefer to deal Garza before his start tomorrow, and they continue to talk with teams, including the A’s and Rangers. This has been your update. This is not a test.
UPDATE 3 (1:15pm CT): Dale Sveum apparently told the media (Bruce Levine) before today’s game that it looks like it’s 100% that Garza will make his next start for the Cubs tomorrow. I’m assuming that’s from his perspective, and I’m also assuming that could change in an instant if the right offer came through. So, in that regard, let’s just take it as a sign that Sveum has not been alerted of any new/advanced trade discussions as of this moment.
UPDATE 4 (4:22pm CT): Nick Cafardo, after tweeting that Clay Buchholz is going to see Dr. James Andrews about his troublesome shoulder, tweets that the Red Sox may have more interest in Matt Garza than we’ve previously been led to believe. Dun dun dun.
UPDATE 5 (4:29pm CT): Jon Morosi tweets that the Rangers have checked in on Ervin Santana as a plan B to Matt Garza, but the Royals aren’t selling right now (and might not sell at all, given the investment they made in this season. Leverage leak? Maybe. But it doesn’t really help the Rangers much. Heck, it probably helps the Cubs vis a vis every other team.