The non-waiver Trade Deadline is fast approaching, and the trade topic is dominating baseball discussion these days. The expanded postseason format has complicated the trade picture, as many clubs are still deciding whether to buy, sell or stand pat.
From now until the July 31 Deadline, we'll be checking in on the trade news around baseball, with help from MLB.com's reporters. The countdown is underway.
Garza watch continues: Over the weekend, it appeared Matt Garza was Texas-bound.
Now there's no telling where Garza will end up. But it seems he'll remain with the Cubs long enough to make his scheduled start Monday against the D-backs.
"I'd say 100 percent he's going to be pitching [Monday]," Cubs manager Dave Sveum said.
But that doesn't mean Garza won't be on the move before July 31. The Red Sox could have an increasing interest in Garza, given the increasing uncertainty surrounding Clay Buchholz. Buchholz has been out since early June after going 9-0 with a 1.71 ERA to start the season. Even though MRIs aren't showing any damage requiring surgery, Buchholz continues to have shoulder issues preventing him from throwing off a mound. According to multiple reports Sunday, he'll visit Dr. James Andrews for a second opinion on his condition.
Boston certainly has the resources, both in terms of finances and prospects, to take on a short-term lease like Garza, and he is undoubtedly the top arm available on the trade market right now.
As far as the Rangers are concerned, MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan has reported that the possibility of a deal between the Cubs and Rangers "diminished" over the weekend. The Cubs, according to Sullivan, had medical concerns about one of the players offered by the Rangers in return for Garza, which held up a deal that seemed to be close to the finish line Friday.
The Rangers have had issues in their injury ravaged rotation lately, so they are expected to continue to scour the starting market, even if they don't land Garza.
Mariners in holding pattern: The truth of the matter is that there are very few obvious sellers at this juncture, even with the Deadline looming a little more than a week away. The second Wild Card slot has created a situation in which at least two-thirds of Major League teams can claim "contention" status, even if they have to stretch the definition of the word.
The Mariners are one team that looks like seller material ... but then again they have won six in a row to climb within nine games of the second Wild Card slot.
That's why, as MLB.com's Greg Johns reported Sunday, the Mariners aren't planning on moving anybody just yet.
"[General manager] Jack [Zduriencik] and I have already talked about this," manager Eric Wedge said. "Unless it's something that raises the bar, I don't think we're going to do anything. We're not going to move somebody just to move somebody."
If the M's do decide to start moving people, then Michael Morse, Oliver Perez, Raul Ibanez, Kendrys Morales, Brendan Ryan and Joe Saunders could be among the guys targeted by other teams.
Giants might need relief: It has already been assumed the Giants will be in the rare (for them) position of searching for starting pitching at the Trade Deadline. Now, the Giants could be on the lookout for left-handed setup help, as well.
Jeremy Affeldt, a key bullpen cog in the Giants' runs to the 2010 and '12 World Series titles, will be out four to six weeks with a muscle and tendon strain in his left groin. And while Jose Mijares can assume Affeldt's setup duties, it is not out of the question that the Giants will seek depth at the Deadline.
A starter, though, is their most pressing need, but there are questions as to whether the Giants' system will allow them to satisfy that need.
Pirates seek a bat: The Pirates sputtered a bit going into and coming out of the All-Star break, but they won Sunday and are very much in the postseason picture and very much the focus of national curiosity. It remains to be seen how aggressive GM Neal Huntington gets in his bid to improve the offense. There is no question Huntington is looking for a bat, but he told reporters, including MLB.com's Jeremy Warnemuende, that he doesn't feel a sense of desperation.
"We're willing to stretch where it's appropriate, and we recognize we're going to have to give up probably more than we want to," Huntington said. "But that's where we are at this point in time. We just can't be foolish about it."
Among the position players the Pirates might pursue are Alex Rios, Alexei Ramirez, Justin Morneau and Nate Schierholtz.
The Pirates are also rumored, by various outlets, to be kicking the tires on pitching possibilities, even though that has been an area of strength and depth this season. You can never have enough.