Dale Sveum would be “surprised” if Matt Garza returns this season

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It’s beginning to look more and more likely that Matt Garza will begin next season as a member of the Cubs.

Garza is still in shut-down mode due to a stress reaction in his right elbow. While he’s still hopeful of returning this year, David Kaplan of CSNChicago.com notes that Cubs manager Dale Sveum expressed some skepticism during an appearance on WGN Radio in Chicago this afternoon.

“To be honest with you, I’d be surprised if he pitches again this season. We all want him back but when the rehab is done and right now we have 48 or 49 games left and he works his butt off but’s going to be tough. Is it possible sometime this year? Sure, but I would be surprised if he pitches again this season,” Sveum said.

Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune reports that Sveum backtracked a bit upon arriving to Wrigley Field this afternoon, but he still conceded that a lot of things will have to go right for Garza to return this season.

“We don’t know that,” Sveum said. “It’s going to be very — I don’t want to say really unlikely he’ll be back — but it’ll probably take a lot of hard work and for some things to happen in the healing process to get back because you’re going to run out of time, basically to rehab. … It’ll be kind of tough, but some guys heal quicker than others.”

The Cubs reportedly shopped Garza leading up to the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, but assuming he doesn’t pitch again this season, teams will likely want him to prove his health next year before talking about a possible deal. The 28-year-old right-hander is making $9.5 million this season and is arbitration-eligible for the final time this winter.

The Pirates are, not surprisingly, leaning against trading Andrew McCutchen

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Over the winter there was serious talk about the Pirates trading Andrew McCutchen to the Washington Nationals. His move to left field to allow Starling Marte to take over center further served to make McCutchen a less important part of the Pirates long term plans.

Then the season began, Marte got suspended for PEDs and, after a bumpy start, McCutchen caught fire. He hit .411/.505/.689 in June he has a .333/.444/.561 line in the month of July. For the year he’s now at .292/.384/.507 with 17 homers and 57 RBI. Even with Marte back on the roster, McCutchen is the Pirates’ center fielder. What’s more, the Pirates, after beginning the season slowly have righted the ship somewhat and are now only three games back in the NL Central.

All of which makes this, from Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, unsurprising:

That option is a quite reasonable $14.5 million, so it seems sorta crazy that they wouldn’t pick it up. Of course if they remain coy enough about it for now perhaps someone will bowl them over with an offer. Letting McCutchen walk seems insane. Unloading him for a hefty haul would, well, still be kinda crazy given how popular McCutchen is with the fan base, but not truly insane.

The Brewers are talking to the Tigers about Ian Kinsler, Justin Wilson

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The Brewers were rumored last week to have been “aggressive” in talks for Tigers reliever Justin Wilson. ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports, however, that the talks are a bit more wide-ranging than that.

Crasnick says that the two clubs are also discussing Tigers second baseman Ian Kinsler, potentially in a package deal with Wilson. Crasnick says that the Brewers “would love to have Kinsler,” but their main focus at the moment is pitching help. Of course, the Brewers current second baseman — Jonathan Villar — is hitting a meager .223/.285/.348 in 334 plate appearances.

Kinsler is having a down season for him — .237/.331/.400 — but he’s better than that and, of course, would represent an improvement. He’s under contract through the end of this year but he has a very affordable, $10 million club option for 2018. Wilson will be arbitration-eligible this offseason, so he’s still under team control as well. As such a Kinsler/Wilson package would likely cost the Brewers a high price, so you have to think they’d try to exhaust cheaper options before making such a deal.

The Brewers had been in first place in the NL Central since June 7, but the Cubs caught them yesterday. They’re in a virtual tie, with Chicago percentage points ahead. This should prove to be a very interesting week for the Brewers’ front office.