On January 8th, 2011, the previous Cubs front office led by GM Jim Hendry finalized a trade that brought Matt Garza (and Fernando Perez and Zach Rosscup) to Chicago from the Rays for Chris Archer, Hak-Ju Lee, Robinson Chirinos, Sam Fuld, and Brandon Guyer. At the time, ESPN's Buster Olney heard that Andrew Friedman and the Rays "didn't get much in the way of high-end prospects; more depth type guys than impact." Archer, 24, seems ready to challenge that evaluation as a member of the Rays' rotation, while Lee, a 22-year-old shortstop, was knocking on the door of the Majors until a knee injury ended his season in April. It's clear now the Cubs gave up a huge haul to acquire three years of Garza; now their new regime is marketing the remaining two to three months of his services to recoup as much young talent as possible. The latest:
- Jon Heyman of CBS Sports echoes Sullivan's earlier report that the Rangers aren't willing to include Martin Perez in a trade for Garza. The Red Sox are said to be "thinking about" Garza and would be a major threat if they entered the fray, according to Heyman. Boston has many pitching prospects acquired by Theo Epstein during his time as the team's GM. The Diamondbacks are in the mix as well, though they may prefer Jake Peavy. The Cubs are likely to place more emphasis on ceiling than proximity to the Major Leagues, according to Heyman, with a slight preference for pitching as opposed to position players.
- The Rangers, Cardinals, Pirates, Indians, Blue Jays, and Dodgers "are the strongest pursuers" with a handful of other teams showing at least cursory interest in Garza, writes David Kaplan of CSNChicago.com. A handful of club executives who spoke to Kaplan consider Garza a very strong No. 3 starter, for whom the Cubs have an "exceptionally high" asking price. Kaplan adds that the Rangers and Blue Jays "are both deciding how far they want to go to acquire Garza." Kaplan's baseball personnel experts feel the Cubs will come close but fall short of the Brewers' Zack Greinke package from last summer, which consisted of shortstop Jean Segura and pitchers Johnny Hellweg and Ariel Pena. Complicating that comparison is the fact that Segura raised his stock considerably this year; at the time of the deal, Baseball America ranked him 43rd among prospects and ESPN's Keith Law had him outside of his top 50.
- Baseball America's midseason top 50 prospects list came out last week. Prospects in the 35-50 range who play for potential Garza suitors include Joc Pederson of the Dodgers, Anthony Ranaudo and Garin Cecchini of the Red Sox, Alen Hanson of the Pirates, Aaron Sanchez of the Blue Jays, Mike Olt of the Rangers, Kolten Wong of the Cardinals, and Adam Eaton of the Diamondbacks. Kaplan notes that the Rangers are "thought to be dangling" Olt, a third baseman. A lot of the position players named here either seem unlikely to be traded or aren't great fits for the Cubs, who might prefer to get a pitcher as the headliner.
- The personnel heads who spoke to Joel Sherman of the New York Post picture Garza going to the Rangers, who have the need and the goods to make a deal. 22-year-old southpaw Martin Perez "could be a key element for the Cubs to move Garza to Texas," writes Sherman. The Rangers are not going to give up Perez, writes MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan. He names Neil Ramirez, Carlos Pimentel, Leury Garcia, and Luis Sardinas as more realistic possibilities.