10:53am: Major League sources tell David Kaplan of CSNChicago.com that the teams have discussed Garza, but other names have not been exchanged. Though the Cubs are willing to part with talent for the right-hander, the Rays would have to be overwhelmed to move him, Kaplan reports.
8:32am: The Sun-Times report surprised club officials, according to MLB.com's Carrie Muskat (on Twitter). The Rays want a lot for Garza and may be inclined to wait until July. Earlier this morning, ESPN.com's Buster Olney reported that a deal for Garza is not close and is more likely to occur in July than now (Twitter links).
7:41am: The Cubs are close to trading for Rays righty Matt Garza, reports Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times. He says the Cubs "appear to have moved past the Rangers" in their efforts to acquire the 27-year-old.
Garza has been a hot topic all winter, with teams like the Nationals and Brewers also inquiring. A deal has seemed unlikely up to this point, with manager Joe Maddon showing amusement with Winter Meetings trade rumors and saying, "Matt Garza will be pitching for us." Executive VP Andrew Friedman indicated later that he's open-minded to any trade that meets the team's objectives, but he values his starting pitching depth highly.
Garza posted a 3.91 ERA, 6.6 K/9, 2.8 BB/9, 1.2 HR/9, and 35.8% groundball rate in 204 2/3 innings this year. He could earn $6MM+ in arbitration for 2011 and is under team control through '13 due to his Super Two status. The Brewers had to give up Brett Lawrie to acquire Shaun Marcum from Toronto; in theory the price for Garza should be higher due to an extra year of control.
With Ryan Dempster, Carlos Zambrano, Tom Gorzelanny, Randy Wells, and Carlos Silva already penciled into the Cubs' rotation, acquiring Garza would give the Cubs flexibility to move a starter unless Gorzelanny or Wells is part of the deal.