Get used to hearing about Matt Garza a lot around here over the next couple of weeks, as he figures to be the most popular name on the market leading up to the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. Fortunately for the Cubs, he has been doing his part to bolster his value recently.
While Garza gave up a season-high 10 hits last night, he managed to hold the first-place Cardinals to just two runs in 6 2/3 innings as part of a 6-4 win at Wrigley Field. The 29-year-old right-hander has now won five straight starts and holds a 1.24 ERA over his last six. His ERA is down to 3.17 for the year while he has a fine 62/20 K/BB ratio 71 innings.
Garza is set to become a free agent following the season, so he might be the most obvious candidate to be moved by the end of the month. Teams like the Indians, Red Sox, Dodgers, Nationals, Rangers, Blue Jays, and Giants have all been mentioned as possible landing spots. There has been some chatter about a potential contract extension, but the competition for his services should net the rebuilding Cubs a top prospect or two.
Your Saturday box scores:
Reds 2, Braves 5
Twins 4, Yankees 1
Blue Jays 7, Orioles 3
Nationals 1, Marlins 2 (10 innings)
Astros 3, Rays 4
Rockies 0, Dodgers 1
Royals 3, Indians 5
Mets 2, Pirates 4
Rangers 7, Tigers 1
Brewers 4, Diamondbacks 5
Red Sox 0, Athletics 3
Giants 9, Padres 0
Angels 0, Mariners 6
White Sox 5, Phillies 4 (11 innings); White Sox 1, Phillies 2 (13 innings)
Update (7:01 PM EDT): David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports the deal has been completed.
ESPN’s Keith Law reported on Saturday evening that a bad contract swap involving the Braves’ Hector Olivera and the Padres’ Matt Kemp was “getting close.” Olivera has been pulled off the field, per Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY. Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that only a last-second medical would kill the deal at this point, and that the Padres will be sending money to the Braves.
Kemp, 31, will have $64.5 million remaining on his contract through 2019 after this season, but the Dodgers will pay $3.5 million annually over those remaining three years, so the $64.5 million is really $54 million. The veteran has compiled a .262/.285/.489 triple-slash line with 23 home runs and 69 RBI in 431 plate appearances for the Padres this season.
Olivera, 31, will have $28.5 million remaining on his contract through 2020 after this season. The outfielder was handed an 82-game suspension, beginning on May 26, for his involvement in a domestic dispute on April 13. The suspension is up on August 2. He has a .501 OPS in 21 major league at-bats this season and a .278 OPS in 37 PA at Triple-A.
Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports that the Padres will consider designating Olivera for assignment. The trade is all about the salary dump for the Padres, as they’d rather give outfield playing time to prospects Hunter Renfroe and Manuel Margot.
The Athletics and Royals swapped outfielders on Saturday. The Athletics sent Billy Burns to Kansas City and the Royals sent Brett Eibner to Oakland.
Burns, 26, doesn’t provide much in the way of offense, but he runs the bases well and plays solid defense. He was hitting .234/.270/.303 with 11 doubles, four triples, and 14 stolen bases in 274 plate appearances.
Eibner, 27, was batting .231/.286/.423 with three home runs and 10 RBI in 85 plate appearances. He has spent most of the season with Triple-A Omaha, where he’s put up a .902 OPS in 219 PA. Eibner played the outfield corners in the majors, but racked up a ton of time playing center in the minors, so his versatility will be valuable to the A’s.
Burns will become eligible for arbitration for the first time after the 2017 season while Eibner has hardly accrued any service time, which might explain part of the motivation behind the trade for the small-market Athletics.