Now that Zack Greinke is in Milwaukee, meet the next big trade target

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Now that the Zack Greinke trade is official, Matt Garza figures to be the most popular name brought up in trade conversations in the coming days and weeks.

Garza, who just turned 27 last month, has become a legitimate frontline starter since coming over from the Twins in November of 2007, posting a 3.86 ERA over 95 games (94 starts) with the Rays, averaging 7.1 K/9 and 3.1 BB/9. And pitching in the tough AL East, no less. The right-hander went 15-10 with a 3.91 ERA this past season and has topped 200 innings in each of the past two seasons.

The Rays have a pretty nice commodity with Garza in that he is under team control through 2013. So while he isn’t an “ace” like Greinke, he’ll still cost quite a bit in return. Garza made $3.35 million in his first time through the arbitration process last winter as a “Super Two.”

We have already heard that the Rays are motivated to trade Garza and that the team has talked about a potential deal with the Cubs. The Rangers have emerged as a potential suitor in recent days, especially after losing out on Cliff Lee. The Nationals have been involved in talks for just about every pitcher available this winter, including Garza, Lee and Greinke. No way they give up now. Judging by the way this Hot Stove has taken shape, there’s probably some surprise team I’m leaving out.

Rays VP Andrew Friedman told Roger Mooney of the Tampa Tribune on Friday that he wasn’t motivated to move any of his starting pitchers, though he did qualify his statement by saying he is “open minded.” That sounds like GM speak for “make me an offer.”

Yankees acquire A.J. Cole from the Nats

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The New York Yankees have acquired reliever A.J. Cole from the Washington Nationals for cash considerations.

Cole was supposed to be the Nats’ fifth starter this year but that didn’t work out too well. He pitched in four games for the Nats, starting two, to the tune of a 13.06 ERA, having given up six home runs in 10.1 innings. That’s . . . something.

Don’t get too used to Cole on the New York roster, as this seems like one of those “give us an arm” for a couple of days deals, after which Cole will be DFA’d and will either accept an assignment to Scranton or be cut loose. Such is life at the fringes for a guy who is out of minor league options.