Which team has the best package to offer for Garza?

627730.png

Which team has the best package to offer for Garza?

Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer have done a great job of dangling Matt Garza so far this offseason. By mentioning they are open for business on the right-handed starter, they have acquired the interest of five teams, all with eyes of contending in 2012 and all searching for one more starter to add to the rotation.

But of those five teams, which has the best package to offer the Cubs?

Yankees

Let's start with the biggest team with traditionally the biggest payroll. It's no secret the Yankees are searching for pitching, but at what cost?

According to Wallace Matthews of ESPNNewYork.com, the Cubs are asking for at least two of the Yanks' three top prospects in catcher Jesus Montero, right-hander Dellin Betances and left-hander Manny Banuelos. Matthews says there's no way New York makes that move, and that's understandable.

Montero's bat is big-league ready while Betances, 23, and Banuelos, 20, finished last season at Triple-A and may be less than a year off of joining an MLB rotation.

But the Cubs have to be motivated to trade Garza and have said they would need to be blown away on a deal. Not sure if the Yankees are prepared to blow anybody away by dealing two -- or all three -- of these guys.

Red Sox

Jon Heyman brought up the idea of the Cubs working out a deal with the Red Sox for Garza that would also take care of the Theo Epstein compensation issue. It's not the craziest idea in the world, but I doubt that's what happens.

The Red Sox don't have many big-time pitching prospects to offer the Cubs in return and appear to be the least motivated of the five teams, at least publicly.

However, if the Yankees ramp up their interest, maybe the Red Sox get more desperate. They've got a big brotherlittle brother type of thing going there.

Blue Jays

Let's keep it in the AL East.

I actually really like what the Blue Jays could give up for Garza, but are now reportedly unlikely to make a deal. That could change or it could just be a negotiating technique.

But the Jays have just what the Cubs need: a slew of young pitching prospects, headlined by Kyle Drabek (who was once dealt as a major piece for Roy Halladay but has since fallen on hard times), Deck McGuire (who some think may be near major-league ready) and Drew Hutchison. The Toronto farm system is crawling with a bunch of young, high-upside guys and the Cubs could easily ask for a package containing two or three of them.

The Blue Jays also have several catching and outfield options. Travis D'Arnaud, the organization's top prospect, is just about major-league ready but has J.P. Arencibia blocking him behind the dish. The Jays could deal one of these guys (or the less-heralded A.J. Jimenez) for pitching.

Anthony Gose and Jake Marisnick headline the Blue Jays' top outfielders and could help pad a potential deal for Garza.

Marlins

We already went into a bit of detail about what the Cubs could get from Miami for Garza, but it's still intriguing. Since the Marlins don't have much in the way of pitching prospects, they may have to throw more position players at Theo and Jed in order to get their hands on Garza.

If the Nationals do wind up signing Prince Fielder, the Marlins will have to make another move to make sure they will compete in the NL East in 2012. The Marlins already felt pressure playing in a division where the Phillies and Braves are kings, but the Nats then went out and traded for Gio Gonzalez, closing the walls in further on Ozzie Guillen's new team.

2010 first-rounder OF Christian Yelich would be the cornerstone of any deal with Miami, and first baseman Gaby Sanchez would also likely be involved, as well as possibly third baseman Matt Dominguez or reliever Jose Ceda.

Tigers

If the Tigers are willing to give up top pitching prospect Jacob Turner, as ESPN's Buster Olney has suggested, we could have a winner in the Garza sweepstakes.

The 20-year-old Turner got a cup of coffee in the bigs last year and while he struggled, he turned in a great 2011 at two stops at Double-A and Triple-A.

Third baseman Nick Castellanos, the Tigers' consensus No. 2 prospect, is probably off limits if Turner is on the table. Rumor has it the A's balked at sending Gonzalez to Detroit because the Tigers refused to deal both Castellanos and Turner.

Either way, the Tigers still have a healthy dose of pitching prospects in their system as well as some decent positions players. If Turner is involved as the cornerstone and two or three other prospects are thrown in the deal, this may be the best Theo and Jed can do.

Contreras helps Cubs end 4-game skid by beating Marlins

willsoncont.png
USA Today Sports Images

Contreras helps Cubs end 4-game skid by beating Marlins

MIAMI - One week into his major league career, Chicago Cubs super-sub Willson Contreras says he's simply trying to contribute and enjoy himself.

So how much fun is he having?

"A lot," Contreras said, practically shouting the words. "A lot."

No wonder - he's batting .412 with three homers, and the latest helped the Cubs break their longest losing streak of the season at four games by beating the Miami Marlins 5-4 Friday night.

Contreras hit a two-run homer in a four-run first inning, and his RBI single in the seventh put the team with the best record in the majors ahead to stay.

Manager Joe Maddon said Contreras' contribution as a reinforcement for the injury-hampered Cubs has been indispensable.

"It's like oxygen - it's absolutely necessary," Maddon said. "The life he has brought to the group is absolutely necessary. He's different in all the best ways."

While Contreras again excelled as a reinforcement, the NL Central leaders endured another setback when second baseman Ben Zobrist left the game after he was hit by a pitch that bruised his left ankle. X-rays were negative, but Zobrist said he'll likely miss at least one game.

Four pitchers held the Marlins to two hits, including Justin Bour's grand slam.

Each team scored four runs in the first inning, when Kris Bryant and Contreras homered for the Cubs. It was the first time in the majors this year that both teams scored at least four runs in the first, according to ESPN.

Despite the early onslaught, both starters settled down before departing with the score still 4-all.

The Cubs' Kyle Hendricks pitched five innings and allowed only one hit - Bour's slam. All four runs were unearned because of an error by shortstop Addison Russell.

"That was the most grinding of a one-hitter," Hendricks said. "It was a weird game."

Miami's Tom Koehler gave up six consecutive hits in the first but still pitched six innings.

Trevor Cahill (1-2) threw a scoreless sixth. Hector Rondon retired all four batters he faced for his second four-out save in a row, and his 13th overall.

Mike Dunn (0-1) retired only one of the five hitters he faced in the seventh, walking two and hitting Zobrist.

"I can't remember the last time I went out there and couldn't throw anything over the plate," Dunn said. "I didn't give the team a chance."

Dunn also allowed a one-out run-scoring single by Contreras, who has eight RBIs after seven games in the big leagues.

"He looks like an established big league hitter," Hendricks said. "He just hits balls hard. It's really fun to watch. To be that young and come up and do it, it's unbelievable. And we need it right now."

Contreras started at catcher and moved to first base late in the game. He's expected to be in the lineup again Saturday, although he's unsure where.

"I don't know if I'm going to play left field or first base; I caught a few flyballs in right field today," he said. "So I'll be ready, man."

Chris Coghlan understands his role with Cubs is different this time around

Chris Coghlan understands his role with Cubs is different this time around

At one point in the middle of last season, the Cubs were on a 12-game winning streak with Chris Coghlan hitting third in the lineup...while playing second base.

It's hard to see that scenario playing out again in 2016 for a lot of reasons.

After getting traded back to Chicago earlier this month, the 31-year-old outfielder came to a different Cubs team than the one he played a major contributing role with in 2015.

Coghlan was penciled in at fifth in Friday's Cubs lineup and has generally been playing against right-handed pitchers since he was acquired, akin to his role last season.

But what about when Jorge Soler returns? And when Dexter Fowler gets off the disabled list, the Cubs will still want to find time for Albert Almora Jr. and Matt Szczur and have $184 million man Jason Heyward patrolling right field.

Plus, Kris Bryant has played a lot of corner outfield already this season and his presence out there allows Javier Baez and Tommy La Stella (who is also currently on the DL) to man third base.

Simply put: Coghlan will be hard-pressed to reach 500 plate appearances again this season.

"I think my role is different. I've accepted that," Coghlan said. "Last year, I felt like if it was a righty, I'd start every day and do the platoon thing. Here, there's just so much talent and different roles that I don't think mine's maybe as definitive as last year's was. 

"I would probably say I'm even more accepting of that. 'Cause I feel to go from where I went and then to come here and get another opportunity. When you're on a team that plans on winning the World Series vs. a team that hopes you go to the playoffs, it's two totally different things.

"To get back on that and be around it, you're like, 'Man, I have a chance legitimately to win a World Series. I'll do whatever I can to win a World Series.' And that's kinda the attitude that I have. 

"I think it's different for people if you're not trying to win a World Series and you're not one of those teams, then you probably want a bigger role. But when you have a legitimate shot, there's a reason why there's only 25 that are allowed and there are only certain roles. I'm excited for this opportunity, however big or small it may be."

Coghlan only got 12 plate appearances in the postseason with the Cubs last year, collecting a lone single in the process.

It's understandable the former National League Rookie of the Year (2009) would want to play more after overcoming a lot of adversity in his career with injuries and posting a .793 OPS with 25 homers in 273 games with the Cubs from 2014-15.

But he also got his first taste of the playoffs last year and just moved from a last-place Oakland A's team to a squad that has a World Series or bust mentality.

Coghlan sees a different Cubs team than the one that got hot in the final two months of 2015 and wound up winning 97 games and two playoff series.

"When I came over here, I just realized, man, you've seen guys have more time," Coghlan said. "You see some growth and you see so much depth that you just feel like it's a matter of — this isn't an arrogant comment — playing within ourselves. 

"When you're on that level of talent and then you have everybody as close as they are, you feel like you're only competing for one thing and that's to win the World Series.

"...To watch it and to be a part of it, you're just like, 'Man, if we stay within ourselves and execute and stay healthy, we're gonna be fine.' And I think that's kinda more the attitude vs. maybe last year, it wasn't until the end where we kinda found our identity and our belief.

"Early on [last season], it was like, 'Man, we're fighting mano y mano and we need to have something break through.' Now, I think it's just about us executing. We execute and we got a shot to beat anybody in baseball."

Injury Report: Chicago baseball keeping the disabled list active

Injury Report: Chicago baseball keeping the disabled list active

Each week, CSNChicago.com takes a look at the injury report from both the Cubs and White Sox, presented by Service King.

WHITE SOX

The White Sox placed Zach Putnam on the 15-day disabled list with ulnar neuritis in his right elbow. Manager Robin Ventura said it is not the same injury the pitcher had been dealing with for the past few weeks.

However, Putnam received a second opinion on Friday and surgery may be an option.

“(Surgery is) possible,” general manager Rick Hahn said on Friday. “But again, we are exploring all the options. We want to make sure we have all the possibilities laid out before us. It’s just one of the things we are considering. Still parceling through the options and at this point we don’t have a specific timeframe for him.”

Justin Morneau remains on the disabled list as he recovers from left elbow primary flexor surgery. The new White Sox first baseman could begin his minor rehab assignment in July and possibly return after the All-Star break.
 
Austin Jackson is still recovering from a torn meniscus. The outfielder underwent successful surgery last Wednesday.

CUBS

The banged-up Cubs continue to have to fight through adveristy, putting Dexter Fowler on the disabled list this week with a hamstring injury.

It is the third hamstring issue this month for the Cubs, as Fowler joins Tommy La Stella and Jorge Soler on the shelf. Fowler has been a vital cog to the Cubs' offense as a leadoff with a .398 on-base percentage. 

La Stella is said to be due back before Soler and the left-handed hitting infielder could go on a rehab stint as soon as next week, meaning he should be back and able to make an impact before the All-Star Break. La Stella has posted an .871 OPS this season in 90 plate appearances.

The Cubs are still taking things slow with Soler, playing the conservative approach wtih the oft-injured young outfielder. He currently has no timetable to return.

The Cubs also placed Clayton Richard on the disabled list, but the team won't likely miss his 7.30 ERA or 2.189 WHIP.

The Cubs signed veteran pitcher Joe Nathan to help provide some potential relief down the line as he rehabs from Tommy John surgery. The 41-year-old made his first appearance Thursday with Double-A Tennessee, striking out two batters in a perfect inning while tossing 17 pitches.