As the deadline approaches, the Cubs are in a full court press, trying to make moves to improve the overall talent level of the organization. The good news is, they are actually well positioned to add one or more core pieces to the roster. While it will probably take more than one of the Cubs’ chips to get a piece that would be significant enough to add to the big league roster right away, the Cubs do have Matt Garza, who can fetch a player who has upside and is Major League ready.
There are some destinations where Matt Garza could turn into a piece who is part of the team that Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer, and presumably, Dale Sveum are looking to push into the playoffs. And those teams could all use a player like Garza to make a push in the second half of this season. While it remains to be seen what happens, Garza is the player who will net the biggest reward, and it is he who should be watched the closest as the next month unfolds.
Last year, it was reported that the Rangers were in on Matt Garza before being scared off by his medicals and settling on a deal for Ryan Dempster. They were also the team that took Geovany Soto and sent Barret Loux when Jacob Brigham had a medical issue. The point is, the Cubs and Rangers are no strangers to making deals, and the magic could be rekindled this year.
3B Mike Olt: It is only a guess that Olt was the piece the Cubs were in on when trying to move Garza to Texas last summer. He has the potential to be a nice core piece, especially if Kris Bryant has to move off the hot corner. Keith Law rates him as a plus defender. He probably won’t hit for a huge average, but he’ll get on base with his fair share of walks (12.4 walk rate at AAA this season). He also has the power to hit the ball out. The consensus is that all he needs is at-bats, and if he were to come to Chicago this season, there is no good reason why he couldn’t get his share of them immediately.
The Cubs have been rumored to be discussing a Matt Garza trade to the Padres. A deal here would make some sense, considering Jed Hoyer and Jason McLeod came to the Cubs from San Diego. Familiarity can breed success, so being familiar with the players as deeply as the front office knows these players make the likelihood of a successful trade a little greater.
2B/3B Jedd Gyorko: One thing the Cubs have done successfully is add big bats who will hit for a ton of power. Gyorko isn’t one of those guys. While he is playing second for the Padres this season, he is a natural third baseman, who will hit for good average, but will not put up gaudy power numbers. He has a .284/.341/.461 so far this season, to go with eight long balls and 25 driven in while playing at a park and in a division that is not conducive to big time hitting numbers. Coming to the more hitter friendly NL Central could really help his offensive game blossom, while giving the Cubs a good hitting third baseman to compliment the power that is already in the organization.
The Dodgers are eight under .500. They are also only a mere seven games out of first place. You know they’re not afraid to spend money and to take on as many good players as they can. Anything short of the playoffs would be a disaster for the Dodgers and their obscene payroll. And, after having too much starting pitching as the season started, are now in a position where another arm couldn’t hurt.
RHP Zach Lee: While Lee is not ready for “The Show,” he is an athletic pitcher who has some solid middle of the rotation potential. At the AA level, he would be the most developed Cubs’ prospect who is pitching this season. It would be a surprise if he were the only piece coming back in return for Garza, but he would be a strong centerpiece if the Dodgers were so inclined to try to bring Garza out west.
The Indians haven’t been good recently, but are in the hunt this season. They also have terrible pitching. This is a match made in heaven.
RHP Trevor Bauer: He is pitching much better in the early going in his Indians career after being traded from Arizona last off-season. He would be a heavy price to pay for half of a season of Matt Garza. Veteran pitching with his playoff experience is hard to come by, though. While this is the least likely of any scenario, there is no denying the mid to upper 90s fastball to go with a very good curve ball. Pairing the 22 year old Bauer up with Jeff Samardzija at the front end of the Cubs’ rotation for years would make for a solid 1-2 punch.
The last destination for Garza is one where he doesn’t actually leave. He’s had some injury issues the last couple of seasons, but throughout his career, he’s been durable, he’s been tested, and he’s had success as a player who’s gone to the World Series with the Rays. Extending him for a contract similar to the one the Cubs dangled to Anibal Sanchez would be a good move, especially if the Cubs don’t get a deal they like at the deadline.
The certain addition of Zack Greinke to the trade market today does nothing to help the Cubs unload either Matt Garza or Ryan Dempster. Never before have I heard a General Manager come out and say that a player would be dealt, but that is exactly what happened with Brewers’ GM Doug Melvin today in regard to his ace pitcher. And I could not have been more upset about it.
With the Braves being in the running for Greinke, it all but kills the chances that a deal with the Braves for Dempster is resurrected. The chances were slim to begin with since Dempster has made it clear that he wants to go to the Dodgers. There has been some positive speculation that a deal could be consummated either between the Cubs and Dodgers or with the help of third team. The best opportunity for this deal to be completed is to add a third team, allowing the Cubs to get additional prospects back. With the Braves “moving on,” the Cubs have no leverage. The Dodgers have reportedly turned down an offer that would have sent Dempster to LA straight up for prospect pitcher Allen Webster. All in all, the Dempster scenarios are a mess. And the mess was made by whoever, reportedly on Atlanta’s side, leaked the details of the deal and upset Dempster. While the leak sent the media into a Tweet-splosion of reports, which even prompted Cubs TV play-by-play man Len Kasper to tweet a good bye message, Dempster napped and woke to find out he had been dealt without waiving his 10/5 rights. And here we are…
As I have said before, it seems less than 50/50 at this point that Matt Garza goes anywhere with his arm trouble and pushed back start. I would doubt a contender is going to pony up the big time prospects required to obtain a guy that left his last start with “arm discomfort” without seeing his next outing, and I would doubt the Cubs are going to take a smaller return on a guy they’ve said repeatedly that they wouldn’t mind extending. None of it adds up to a deal going down before the deadline, but stranger things have happened. I have had random musings with myself about the potential of a massive Dempster and Garza to the Dodgers for Zach Lee, Allen Webster, and other parts trade, but that is not going to happen. Garza seems to be limited to going to the Dodgers at this point with the Red Sox falling out of contention in the AL East, the Tigers acquiring Anibal Sanchez, and and Orioles being hot on Francisco Liriano.
Depending who you ask, the Dodgers interest in Dempster ranges from “they’ll get something done” to “they would rather have Garza.” The latter is the desirable scenario, mostly because they could get the most back for Garza. Dempster staying around, however, would not net anything more than a draft pick, as the potential for resigning him this off-season seems slim, at best.
All this talk about Garza and Dempster is probably killing the possibility of trading Paul Maholm. It didn’t look likely that he was going anywhere to begin with, but with Dempster/ Garza talks still on-going, it seems increasingly clear that Paul Maholm will be wearing Cubs’ pinstripes until the end of the season.
On the bright side…multiple national reporters have reported that OF Reed Johnson is likely on his way up I-94 to Detroit, probably for some low to mid level prospects. So there’s that…
With the Brewers imploding faster than the roof of the Metrodome a couple of years ago, it seems more and more apparent that the Brewers are going to sell. And with Zack Greinke pitching out of his mind tonight, it would seem that teams looking to acquire him (quite a few based on tonight’s scout count) would probably try to do so sooner rather than later. That little nugget of information, coupled with the Marlins, Rays possibly joining a seller’s market with the likes of Josh Johnson and James Shields, and Astros trading Wandy Rodriguez to the Pirates tonight, the market for starting pitching could shrink on the Cubs, who are looking to deal Ryan Dempster, Matt Garza, and Paul Maholm.
As it stands with Dempster, he appears to be holding out to join former Cub and friend, Ted Lilly in Los Angeles. Exercising his 10/5 rights to veto a trade could be a detriment to the Cubs because now that it is public knowledge that the Bravos are willing to part with Randall Delgado for a rental player, other teams might try to sweeten the pot for them or try to swoop in a get Delgado for a player of similar stature to Dempster. Meanwhile, the Dodgers are still refusing to part with Zach Lee in a deal for Dempster, which would make losing out on the 22 year old Delgado a tough pill to swallow for the Cubs.
Matt Garza will not pitch until Monday, at the earliest, it appears. From my perspective, that makes it more unlikely that he gets moved before non-waiver deadline at 3:00 PM central time on Tuesday afternoon. As it stood before, it was widely reported that it was about 50/50 that Garza got moved anyway. With his “arm discomfort” and delayed start until after the weekend, the price might come down on him to a point where the Cubs are more interested in trying to extend Garza than using him as a pawn to add young arms to the minor league system. Rumors floated that the Cubs were looking for two major league ready pitching prospects for Garza, similar to what the Rockies got for Ubaldo Jimenez, which may be too steep a price. Reports today were that the Rangers were looking for an ace type pitcher, and that they don’t see Garza that way. That again, shrinks his market, and I predict he is a Cub for the duration of 2012, if not longer.
Paul Maholm was never going to net a big name prospect. With the Pirates getting Wandy Rodriguez, it seems less and less likely that Maholm gets moved at all, since they were said to be his biggest suitor. It is still possible that he gets moved in the week between now and the deadline, but it doesn’t seem likely that he will during the season. He could be a trade chip for this winter, with a modest $6.5M option for next season. Teams looking to add a back of the rotation lefty might be willing to part with a decent prospect in January for a player like Maholm after the bulk of free agency has concluded. As it stands now, it is hard to envision him going anywhere with so many new names being added to a market that has so few suitors.
The Cubs do have some nice bats on the market, led by Alfonso Soriano, who hit his 19th HR of the season in tonight’s win at Pittsburgh. Calling Mr. Friedman, Mr. Andrew Friedman…we have something Joe Maddon might like to plug into his line-up, ranked 27th in slugging. The Rays sorely need a right handed bat, and Soriano could be had if they’re willing to part with some solid prospects and pay about $4M over the next two years. He clearly has some pop in his bat and when he was a DH earlier this season, he was pure magic at the plate, highlighted by some of the bombs he launched at Target Field. Others include Bryan LaHair, who would make a nice platoon player at either a corner infield or outfield position, or DH in the American League. He probably won’t net more than a middle of the pack prospect, which wouldn’t be all that bad for a 29 year old minor league reclamation project. Reed Johnson is said to have a number of suitors as the guy he is for the Cubs; a veteran bat and solid defender off the bench that can pinch hit, play defense, and give you four good at bats when asked to start.
The most unfortunate part of all of this seems to be the foiling of the plan to get better for future years by sacrificing some on field production this year. Being 16 under .500 and 16 back in the division means it’s over in 2012. While they could conceivably fight for 4th in the division, being four behind the Brewers, that does nothing but make the holidays a little more palatable for me this winter. If the last few days are any indication of things to come, there will be a lot more movement before the deadline. The Cubs will likely make some moves and the team will not look the same next Wednesday when the Cubs square off with the Pirates as they do tomorrow when they square off with the Pirates. As is the case every year at this time, stay tuned…
UPDATE: Dale Sveum calls the reports a “fabrication” and blames “the Twitter, the Facebook” for out of control reporting. I’m not sure it was completely made up, since it came from a number of reputable reporters, but premature is not out of the question at all, as it regards to a Ryan Dempster trade. Again, more to come…
Ryan Dempster was traded today to the Atlanta Braves for, in principle, RHP Randall Delgado. Or was he? Multiple outlets, including cubs.com reported that a trade had been completed. Many of those same outlets and Dempster himself have also said that no deal is done. Dempster showed up this afternoon in the Cubs’ clubhouse and tweeted that he had no idea where the trade rumors were coming from. From the Cubs’ perspective, acquiring a 22 year old starting pitcher with controllability is exactly what the front office is looking to do, especially if it comes for a 35 year old pitcher in the last year of his contract. Delgado is a consensus Top 100 prospect in baseball, and Baseball America had him rated as the Braves #3 prospect entering the season. As is generally the case, more to come on whether or not this trade actually goes down…
The Cubs are also rumored to be deep in discussions with the Dodgers, with the principles in a deal being pitchers Matt Garza and Zach Lee. Lee is the #35 overall mlb.com prospect this season. The Cubs are Dodgers were deep in discussions centering around Dempster, but were abandoned because the Cubs presumably wanted Lee for Dempster, which the Dodgers were not willing to do for a rental player. Garza is under team control through next (2013) season, which would make a Lee deal a little more enticing for the Dodgers.
There are several other names being discussed, such as Darwin Barney (Tigers), Paul Maholm (any team looking for starting pitching), Alfonso Soriano (any team willing to take him), and veterans Reed Johnson and Jeff Baker.