Matt Garza is going to be traded—and very soon.
As in over the next 72 hours or so.
That's the word from ESPN's Buster Olney, who says there is an "80 percent chance" that the eight-year veteran is going to be dealt during the All-Star break (subscription required).
ESPN Chicago's Bruce Levine names the Texas Rangers and Toronto Blue Jays as the front-runners in the race to acquire the 29-year-old right-hander, and he includes the Boston Red Sox, Cleveland Indians and San Francisco Giants in the mix as well.
CBS Sports' Jon Heyman points out that the St. Louis Cardinals have also had conversations with Chicago about acquiring Garza, which makes this a six-team race.
Conspicuous by their absence are the Baltimore Orioles, a team that would seem to be a perfect fit for Garza. Olney says that they have dropped out of the race due to Chicago's high asking price, which, according to Levine, includes young pitching and run-producing bats.
So which team has the best chance of adding Garza to its rotation for the stretch run?
Let's take a look.
San Francisco Giants (5 Percent)
After learning its lesson the hard way when it traded top-prospect Zack Wheeler to the Mets for Carlos Beltran in 2011, there's no chance San Francisco is going to entertain moving top pitching prospect Kyle Crick in any deal, especially for a two-month rental like Garza.
The team's other top prospects are either underwhelming (OF Gary Brown), play a position the Cubs don't need (2B/SS Joe Panik) or are years away from making an impact (RHP Chris Stratton).
One player who could be intriguing to the Cubs is outfielder Francisco Peguero, who is currently on a rehab assignment after being diagnosed with a concussion on June 11. Peguero has been unimpressive in limited major league playing time but has all of the tools a team looks for in an outfielder.
Still, it’s hard to see how the two teams match up in a trade, as it's going to take more than a toolsy outfielder to land Garza from Chicago.
Boston Red Sox (5 Percent)
After general manager Ben Cherington, nobody in baseball knows Boston's minor league system better than Chicago GM Jed Hoyer and team president Theo Epstein, who essentially built the Red Sox farm system from the ground up.
The Cubs are only going to target the players in the system with the highest ceilings, and there's no chance of Boston moving the likes of Xander Bogaerts, Anthony Ranaudo or Jackie Bradley Jr. for Garza.
Yet with such an intimate working knowledge of what Boston has on the farm, there's always a chance some under-the-radar prospects Epstein and/or Hoyer really like could come into play if the two teams get serious about working out a deal together.
Cleveland Indians (10 Percent)
The last time Cleveland made a move for a big-name starting pitcher at the trade deadline, it ended up with Ubaldo Jimenez, who has a underwhelming 5.10 ERA and 1.55 WHIP over 61 starts in an Indians uniform.
That's enough to give any team cold feet leading up to the trade deadline, but if Cleveland truly believes Detroit is vulnerable atop the AL Central, the tribe could look to make another big splash.
While the bulk of the team's top prospects are middle infielders (Francisco Lindor, Dorssys Paulino, Tony Wolters and Ronny Rodriguez), the Indians have a handful of young arms, both in the rotation (RHPs Trevor Bauer and Danny Salazar) and out of the bullpen (RHP Cody Allen) who could be used to facilitate a deal.
St. Louis Cardinals (15 Percent)
No team in baseball has a deeper farm system than the Cardinals. They could trade a pair of prospects and not even notice that they were gone.
Outfielder Oscar Taveras and RHP Carlos Martinez (now in St. Louis) are untouchable, and it’s hard to imagine the team moving 2B Kolten Wong in a deal for a rental.
But St. Louis has plenty of pieces that could be attractive to the Cubs, including LHP John Gast (currently on the disabled list with a strained shoulder) and RHP Seth Blair, two pitchers whose long-term futures in St. Louis are cloudy due to the team's starters already in the big leagues and the prospects ahead of them in the farm system.
Toronto Blue Jays (30 Percent)
Even after trading away a boatload of prospects over the winter, the Blue Jays still have a deep and talented minor league system with multiple young pitchers who could pique Chicago's interest, including right-handed starters Aaron Sanchez and Roberto Osuna and LHP Sean Nolin.
Corner infielder Mauro Gomez and outfielders Brad Glenn and Moises Sierra fit the bill as far as run-producing position players go, though a speedy player like outfielder Anthony Gose could also be someone the Cubs wouldn't mind adding to the mix.
Texas Rangers (35 Percent)
While Texas doesn't have as deep a farm system as St. Louis or Toronto, it has more major league-ready talent, and that makes Texas the favorite to land Garza at some point this week.
Corner infielder Mike Olt is likely to be part of any deal, per Levine, and it makes sense. Third base is an immediate area of need for the Cubs, and Olt is ready to step in and handle the position on a daily basis.
Olt alone won't get a deal done, but Texas has enough prospects in the upper levels of the system and in the major leagues (RHP Justin Grimm and LHP Martin Perez) to put together the most attractive package for Garza, one from which the Cubs would see immediate results.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!