A trade involving one of the biggest targets on the 2013 trade market has come to pass. According to a multitude of reporters, Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Matt Garza has been traded to the Texas Rangers for a package headlined by third base prospect Mike Olt, along with pitcher Justin Grimm, pitching prospect C.J. Edwards and a player to be named later.
Garza was arguably the best starting pitcher available on a trade market thin with pitching talent. Although Northsider Jake Peavy and Milwaukee Brewers starter Yovani Gallardo could be available as well, both have had their share of injury and performance woes, respectively. Garza, who had been hurt for a majority of the first half of 2013, had proved enough in his time back in the majors this year to place himself atop the available pitchers in trades this season.
However, while this trade will impact the starting pitching market, it may not impact anyone more than Philadelphia Phillies GM Ruben Amaro, Jr. and his team's left-handed ace, starting pitcher Cliff Lee. Per philly.com, Amaro has vehemently opposed trading Lee, which has limited his availability on the trading front. But Lee was nevertheless considered a top trading target by many, including Yahoo! Sports' Jeff Passan, who considered Lee the top name potentially available at this year's deadline.
Publicity and privacy can often hum a different tune. Amaro may publicly be against trading his lefty ace. But behind closed doors, could Lee possibly be considered in trades?
Lee would bring back a fantastic haul in any trade involving him, though the Texas Rangers can likely be counted out as a suitor now that they've acquired Garza. But with the Cubs acquiring a prospect package in return that commands an MLB top prospect in Olt and organizational top prospect in Edwards, according to ESPN's Buster Olney, what could the Phillies get in return for Lee? Olney tweeted the following concerning Edwards:
Some teams view Edwards as a Top 5 prospect in the Texas organization, with growing potential. It's fair return for a rental.— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) July 22, 2013
This can mean only good things for Amaro and Co. Despite the fact that Lee is owed over $70 million on his contract according to Cot's Baseball Contracts, his ability would still net an above-average prospect haul, even if the Phillies didn't eat a single dollar of his salary.
Amaro could have significant leverage now that he possesses the undisputed top pitcher on a trade market should Lee be available. Could he receive a prospect in the mold of Oscar Taveras of the St. Louis Cardinals or Xander Bogaerts of the Boston Red Sox? It's anyone's guess. But one thing's for sure: this Matt Garza trade has made things very interesting for the Phillies front office and Cliff Lee's fate.