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UPDATE: Rangers “getting closer” to deal for Cubs’ Matt Garza

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Matt Garza has been on an impressive roll of late, winning five straight starts while posting a 1.24 ERA and 38/10 K/BB ratio over his last six. While we still have a little under two weeks to go before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, ESPN’s Buster Olney reports that the Cubs want to strike while the iron is hot.

Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports and Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports also hear that the Rangers are involved in talks for Garza. In fact, Rosenthal and Morosi are reporting that the Rangers are “most motivated” of any of the teams in the mix. The Dodgers, Red Sox, Cardinals, Indians, and Diamondbacks are among the other clubs who have expressed interest.

Garza is currently slated to make his next start on Monday against the Diamondbacks, so if Olney’s source is to be believed, we could see a resolution within the next couple of days.

UPDATE: FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal hears from one official involved in talks between the Cubs and Rangers that a deal is getting closer. Prospects from various levels are being discussed and Rosenthal writes that Mike Olt is “possibly” involved.

UPDATE II: Rosenthal hears from sources that prospect right-hander C.J. Edwards is also in play in talks for Garza. The 21-year-old has a 1.83 ERA and 122/34 K/BB ratio over 93 1/3 innings in 18 starts this season with Class A Hickory.

Mets leaning on Jay Bruce, Neil Walker as Lucas Duda insurance

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - MAY 12:  Pinch hitter Lucas Duda #21 of the New York Mets walks back to the dugout after striking out for the first out of the ninth inning against Clayton Kershaw #22 of the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on May 12, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  The Dodgers won 5-0.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
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The Mets have begun working outfielder Jay Bruce and second baseman Neil Walker at first base as potential insurance in the event Lucas Duda continues to experience back discomfort, Mike Puma of the New York Post reports. Duda has been sidelined recently due to back spasms and missed all but 47 games last season as a result of a stress fracture in his lower back.

Manager Terry Collins spoke about Bruce’s work at first base on Sunday, saying, “I liked everything I saw today. “It looks like he’s got the athleticism, he’s got the hands, he’s got the arm angle. He made some throws in our drills that you wouldn’t expect an outfielder to be able to make, but yet he does. If that’s where we have to go, I think we’ll be fine.”

Bruce has only three games’ worth of experience at first base at the major league level, but still has high expectations for himself. He said, “I am going to work at it. I want to give myself a chance and the team a chance. I am not going to go over there and be a butcher. It’s just not the way I go about my business on the baseball field and it wouldn’t be fair to the team if I wasn’t capable to do it, so I am going to work at it and we’ll see what happens.”

The Mets made Bruce available via trade over the offseason but didn’t get an offer that whet their appetite. As a result, Michael Conforto appears to be the odd man out in the Mets’ crowded outfield.

Jason Kipnis diagnosed with a strained rotator cuff

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 02:  Jason Kipnis #22 of the Cleveland Indians celebrates after scoring a run on a wild pitch thrown by Jon Lester #34 of the Chicago Cubs (not pictured) during the fifth inning in Game Seven of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field on November 2, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis has been diagnosed with a strained rotator cuff in his right shoulder, MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian reports. Kipnis has received a cortisone shot and will be shut down from throwing for the next four to five days.

There’s a lot of spring left, so it’s perfectly sensible for the Indians to play it safe with their star player. The club already had Kipnis on a shoulder strengthening program.

Kipnis, 29, helped the Indians to the playoffs after batting .275/.343/.469 with 23 home runs, 92 RBI, 91 runs scored, and 15 stolen bases in 688 plate appearances during the regular season last year. He then helped the Indians reach Game 7 of the World Series against the Cubs, where they were eventually stopped, as he provided a .741 OPS including four homers and eight RBI in 15 playoff games.