The Cubs get Matt Garza in an eight-player deal

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UPDATE:  Bruce Levine of ESPN Chicago says the deal is done: eight players are involved in the deal that sends Matt Garza from Tampa Bay to the Cubs.

Specifically: the Rays will get pitching prospect Chris Archer — the Cubs’ number one prospect — outfielder Brandon Guyer, catcher Robinson Chirinos, shortstop Hak-Ju Lee and outfielder Sam Fuld. In addition to Garza, the Cubs will get a minor-league pitcher and a minor-league outfielder.

This is a big, big deal. Mostly for the Rays, who have added multiple top prospects to an already-stocked minor league system.  While Garza is a fine pitcher, he’s not that fine.  And the Rays aren’t going to miss much of a beat anyway, what with Jeremy Hellickson taking his spot in the rotation.

For the Cubs this is a head-scratcher. They need pitching, but their payroll is bloated and their farm system thin.  At some point they’re going to need to integrate some cheap talent into that mix, and they just gave away a lot of it for a good but by no means great pitcher.

This is a win for the Rays. It may mean a short term improvement for the Cubs, but I don’t like this deal for them.

10:52 AMBruce Miles reports that the Cubs are nearing a trade for Matt Garza.

We first reported that the Cubs and Rays were talking about Garza a month ago. There have been multiple on-again, off-again reports since then.  This stuff now seems like a new, more urgent push, with people in the Twitterverse who are in the know characterizing it as close to being done.

The rumored return: prospects Chris Archer, Hak-Ju Lee,Brandon Guyer and Robinson Chirinos.  Baseball America ranked Archer as the Cubs’ number 1 prospect last year, Lee as the number 4 and Guyer as number 10. Not sure on Chirinos, but I hear he has a great personality. (UPDATE:  Chirinos is the number 16 prospect)

Seems like a steep asking price for Garza.  But the Cubs are pretty desperate for some starting pitching.  We’ll update this as events unfold, of course.

Justin Turner is a postseason monster

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A not-insignificant amount of the Dodgers’ success in recent years has to do with the emergence of Justin Turner. In his first five seasons with the Orioles and Mets, he was a forgettable infielder who had versatility, but no power. The Mets non-tendered him after the 2013 season, a move they now really regret.

In four regular seasons since, as a Dodger, Turner has hit an aggregate .303/.378/.502. His 162-game averages over those four seasons: 23 home runs, 36 doubles, 83 RBI, 80 runs scored. And he’s also a pretty good third baseman, it turns out. The Dodgers have averaged 95 wins per season over the past four years.

Turner, 32, has gotten better and better with each passing year. This year, he drew more walks (59) than strikeouts (56), a club only five other players (min. 300 PA) belonged to, and he trailed only Joey Votto (1.61) in BB/K ratio (1.05). He zoomed past his previous career-high in OPS, finishing at .945. His .415 on-base percentage was fourth-best in baseball. His batting average was fifth-best and only nine points behind NL batting champion Charlie Blackmon.

It doesn’t seem possible, but Turner has been even better in the postseason. He exemplified that with his walk-off home run to win Game 2 of the NLCS against the Cubs. Overall, entering Wednesday night’s action, he was batting .363/.474/.613 in 97 postseason plate appearances. In Game 4, he went 2-for-2 with two walks, a single, and a solo home run. That increases his postseason slash line to .378/.495/.659, now across 101 plate appearances. That’s a 1.154 OPS. The career-high regular season OPS for future first-ballot Hall of Famer Albert Pujols was 1.114 in 2008, when he won his third career MVP Award. Statistically, in the postseason, Turner hits slightly better than Pujols did in the prime of his career. Of course, we should adjust for leagues and parks and all that, but to even be in that neighborhood is incredible.

In the age of stats, the concept of “clutch” has rightfully eroded. We don’t really allow players to ascend to godlike levels anymore like the way we did Derek Jeter, for instance. (Jeter’s career OPS in the playoffs, by the way, was a comparatively pitiful .838.) Turner isn’t clutch; he’s just a damn good hitter whose careful approach at the plate has allowed him to shine in the postseason and the Dodgers can’t imagine life without him.