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.

Evan Longoria: ‘I just kind of feel sorry for the Rays fan base’

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The Rays were busy over the weekend, trading starter Jake Odorizzi to the Twins, designating All-Star outfielder Corey Dickerson for assignment, and then picking up C.J. Cron in a deal with the Angels. The Rays saved about $4 million — Odorizzi’s $6.3 million less Cron’s $2.3 million salary — and picked up a prospect. They’re still on the hook for Dickerson’s $5.95 million salary until they can find a trade partner, which seems likely.

Those are some head-scratching moves if you’re a Rays fan or a member of the Rays. Dickerson hit .282/.325/.490 with 27 home runs, 62 RBI, and 84 runs scored in 629 plate appearances last season, part of which resulted in his first trip to the All-Star Game. Designating him for assignment is strictly a financial move, assuming he can be traded. The Rays are currently operating with a payroll below $70 million. This comes just a week and a half after Rays ownership proposed the public footing most of the bill for the club’s new stadium. And the Rays had traded third baseman Evan Longoria — then the face of the franchise — to the Giants earlier this offseason.

Longoria expressed sympathy for Rays fans for having to put up with this. Via Andrew Baggarly, Longoria said of the curious Dickerson move, “I just kind of feel sorry for the Rays fan base. … I’m not going to take too many shots but it’s pretty obvious that guy is a valuable player and didn’t deserve to be DFAd. Corey was our best player last year.”

Longoria isn’t quite on the money there. By WAR, Dickerson ranked fifth among position players on the team, according to Baseball Reference. FanGraphs is also in agreement. Still, it’s indisputable that Dickerson, who turns 29 years old this May, more than pulled his weight. The Rays do not have a surfeit of starting outfielders, so it wasn’t like they were making room for other capable players. Mallex Smith, who put up a .684 OPS in 282 PA last year, is slated to start in left field at the moment. Designating Dickerson for assignment, as well as trading Longoria and Odorizzi, were simply cost-cutting decisions.

The Rays’ M.O. has been part of the problem leading to the current stagnant free agent market (sans Eric Hosmer‘s eight-year deal on Saturday). Teams like the Rays, Phillies, Reds, and Tigers have been explicitly putting out non-competitive teams in order to facilitate a rebuilding process. Longoria is right to express sympathy for Rays fans, who see their favorite team worsening a roster that went 80-82 last year. The Rays haven’t finished at .500 or above since 2013 and doesn’t figure to halt the streak this year.