By Matt Snyder
Just over an hour ago, I surmised that the Cubs' reportedly strong interest in Paul Maholm was a true sign that they were set to deal Matt Garza (UPDATE: The Cubs have indeed signed Maholm). Sure enough, a report from Dave Kaplan of Comcast Chicago says that the Cubs and Tigers are "down the road in discussions" on a trade proposal that would send Garza to Detroit.
At this point, it wouldn't be surprising if Garza just wanted to be traded in order get the rumors overwith. His name has been bouncing around the rumor mill for the better part of six weeks. The Blue Jays and Yankees have also been mentioned quite heavily in Garza rumors. In any of those respective rotations, he would most likely slot as a No. 2 starter.
If the Cubs did trade Garza and sign Maholm, the best bet is their five-man rotation for the 2012 season is set with Ryan Dempster, Randy Wells, Travis Wood, Maholm and Chris Volstad (with Andy Sonnanstine as the injury replacement). The season is going to be one of transition anyway, so the Cubs would then see what they had in the latter four while Dempster would be a free agent following the season -- and perhaps he fetches a prospect or two before the trade deadline in July.
As for the Tigers, they're built to win right now, having lost the ALCS to the Rangers last season. Garza bolsters the rotation behind reigning Cy Young and MVP winner Justin Verlander, along with Doug Fister, Max Scherzer and Rick Porcello. Would the Tigers cough up top prospect Jacob Turner? There have been conflicting reports on that, but it's a good bet that's who Cubs bosses Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer have their eyes on.
Turner, 20, is a right-handed pitcher who had a 3.44 ERA, 1.16 WHIP and 110 strikeouts in 131 minor-league innings last season, across Double- and Triple-A. Many scouts believe he profiles as a frontline starter once his development is complete.
Garza, 28. was 10-10 with a 3.32 ERA, 1.26 WHIP and 197 strikeouts in 198 innings pitched. Between poor run support and a pretty terrible defense behind him, however, Garza pitched much better than his raw numbers would indicate.
Even if this report is inaccurate, don't expect Garza's name to be removed from rumors until either he is traded or the Cubs' season begins.
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