If the Yankees decide they need a starter at the trade deadline, and it's loooking more likely they might, the pitcher that interests them most is Matt Garza of the Cubs.
The Red Sox also could have interest in Garza, which could result in another showdown between baseball's biggest rivals. That would also represent a big benefit to the Cubs.
Yankees people like the fact Garza is battle-tested in the American League East after acquiring too many pitchers from the National League who haven't been able to make a seamless transition to the A.L. The Yankees seem to have little interest in Brewers stars Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum or the other top Cubs starter Ryan Dempster, as they have concerns about Greinke in New York and Marcum and Dempster in the A.L. Even though Marcum pitched pretty well for the Blue Jays, the Yankees are concerned about his low radar readings in the A.L.
A backup plan to Garza for the Yankees could be Houston's Wandy Rodriguez, who the Yankees pursued at last year's deadline. Last summer the Yankees offered to pay $21 million of what's left on Rodriguez's deal, which now amounts to $33 million through 2014 if he's traded (the '14 option becomes a player option if he's dealt).
The Yankees' rotation ERA of 4.82 is 11th best in the American League. Of concern at the moment is Phil Hughes (4-5, 4.94). One scout said the problem appears to be "his fastball is too straight.'' Yankees people are concerned that Hughes hasn't been able to put hitters away when he's ahead in the count and wonder if it's because he seems reluctant to go to his curve or changeup. Word out of the Yankees clubhouse was Hughes shook off catcher Russell Martin and opted for fastballs a few times when Martin sought something off-speed.
The Cubs would prefer to try lock up Garza to a long deal, and they intend to try again before trading him. Previous negotiations didn't prove fruitful. If the Cubs can't reach a deal on a contract with Garza, they would be expected to trade him. Garza doesn't become a free agent until after 2013 as things stand.
Garza is 2-3 with a 4.22 ERA with the Cubs, and a case could be made that he's been outperformed by Greinke (6-2, 3.46), Marcum (3-3, 3.63), Dempster (0-3. 2.90) and Rodriguez (4-4, 2.49) so far this year. But the Yankees don't care about that. They're interested in who could help them most.