After spending a good portion of Monday working the phones, here is the latest on the Cubs' prospects for dealing Matt Garza. It appears Texas, St. Louis, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Toronto and the Los Angeles Dodgers are the strongest pursuers, but a handful of other teams have at least shown cursory interest in the price it would take to acquire the best available starting pitcher at the deadline.
What I found interesting in talking with a handful of major league executives is that Garza is not considered a No. 1 or 2 in a rotation, but is considered a very strong No. 3 and the price the Cubs front office is asking for is exceptionally high. Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer are looking at this as a chance to hit the jackpot and I would do the same thing if I was in their shoes. However, rival GM's don't want to part with a few elite level prospects for somebody they will only have for 14 or 15 starts in the regular season. "Now, if they're able to get a contract extension done, that changes the entire equation," a National League scout told me.
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"The big question about Garza is, 'Are you getting the guy who just pitched beautifully for five starts or are you getting the guy who has been on the DL three times in the last three years?'" the NL scout added.
In evaluating the teams interested in Garza, the scout broke them down into a group of teams who can afford an extension and also have the minor-league system able to meet the Cubs' needs and demands. In addition, he looked at the teams that are truly contenders as opposed to the teams that are currently in the race, but probably aren't good enough to win a World Series this year.
Multiple sources told me Monday afternoon the Rangers and the Blue Jays are both deciding how far they want to go to acquire Garza with one personnel executive saying, "Look, Texas has come so close to winning it all and they may not have many more opportunities to win a ring. And Toronto paid big in the offseason and this may be their best shot to win if they can add another solid arm and Garza certainly fits that big time."
The subject of the Cardinals and Pirates making a deal for Garza also was a hot topic with multiple insiders believing Pittsburgh knows it needs to prove to their fan base that they are serious about winning, while the Cardinals know one more arm could deliver another championship just two seasons after Albert Pujols was allowed to leave via free agency.
"If John Mozeliak can win another title after letting Albert walk that would be the ultimate way to prove everybody wrong who doubted him after Pujols left for Los Angeles," a former personnel boss told me.
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A year ago, the Milwaukee Brewers traded Zack Greinke to the Angels and received three prospects including standout shortstop Jean Segura and two Double-A pitchers. Of the baseball personnel experts I spoke with, the consensus is the Cubs will probably not receive as much as the Brewers did but should come close.
The Rangers are thought to be dangling third base prospect Mike Olt, but he has had vision issues over the past several months and several scouts are wary of making him the centerpiece of a deal.