Cubs talking with multiple teams about Matt Garza

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Matt Garza picked a good time to start pitching well. At least from the Cubs’ perspective. Buster Olney reports that the Cubs are “making progress” on talks with multiple teams for the services of their starter, including Texas, Boston, Toronto, Cleveland, the Dodgers “and maybe Baltimore.” Olney adds that “a couple of more teams in the NL West” could be interested in Garza too.

Since a disaster start on June 11 in which he gave up nine runs Garza — whom Olney refers to as “the belle of the ball” and which should thus be his new nickname going forward — has allowed one or zero runs in four straight outings, all of which lasted seven innings or longer. Those starts haven’t come against the staunchest competition — the Mets, Astros, Brewers and A’s — but solid is solid and this is July and teams often take a “what have you done lately” approach in July.

It’s all about health now. Garza was the belle of the ball at last year’s trade deadline too. Then he got hurt and that was that for his marketability.

Jonny Venters is still pitching

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Lefty reliever Jonny Venters was among a handful of players the Rays signed to minor league contracts, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports.

Venters, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2012 and has logged just 27 2/3 innings in the minors in the meantime due to a continuous battle with his elbow. According to David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Venters has undergone four — four! — Tommy John surgeries.

When he was healthy, Venters was a fearsome late-game option for the Braves. He posted a 1.95 ERA with 93 strikeouts in 83 innings in 2010, and a 1.84 ERA with 96 strikeouts in 88 innings in 2011. His first-half performance in 2011 earned him a spot on the National League All-Star roster.

Venters has spent the last two years in the Rays’ system and he’ll try to make it a third.