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When 99 percent is not 99 percent

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I figure the Matt Garza-to-Texas trade is going to happen. There’s certainly been a lot of talk about it. But really, I don’t know. We’ll hear when we hear. But I can’t help but laugh when, twice a year — during hot stove time and now, just before the trade deadline — I am once again reminded how silly the business of reporting on trades and signings in.

The Matt Garza-to-Texas deal was reported yesterday to be “99 percent done.” Late last night, however, we get reports that the deal is breaking down. The snag: the teams can’t agree after discussing “varying packages for the 29-year-old starter.” Translation: Texas and Chicago can’t decide which players are going to be traded for Garza.

Now, call me crazy, but when half of the deal is not yet agreed to, calling the deal “99 percent done” seems a bit off. That’s like saying I’m 99 percent done with buying a car but that I just haven’t picked a car yet. It’s like saying I’m 99 percent married but I just can’t find the right woman. It really does take two to tango with these things.

I understand that trade rumors are weird things. People lie to reporters. Reporters misread information. Things change quite quickly. As such, it’s not at all reasonable to come down hard on guys who report things like deals being done 99 percent unless they are habitual offenders. I’ve been told myself that things are done-deals only to see them not done at all. Things happen and occasionally you look stupid through no fault of your own.

But it is something to remember between now and July 31. It’s worth reminding ourselves over and over that no deal is done until it is done. Before that, it’s all just chatter. Fun chatter, but chatter all the same.

Report: Cardinals are scouting Cuban outfielder Luis Robert

ST. LOUIS, MO - APRIL 25: Baseballs sit in the St. Louis Cardinals dugout prior to a game between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium on April 25, 2014 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by David Welker/Getty Images)
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According to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Cardinals are keeping an eye on outfield prospect Luis Robert. The 19-year-old left his native Cuba last November and is expected to command interest from multiple MLB teams as he approaches free agency. Goold adds that the Cardinals sent scouts to evaluate Robert’s workouts in the Dominican Republic as recently as last week.

There’s still a good chance that the club won’t get a shot at signing him; as Craig mentioned last month, it seems likely that Major League Baseball won’t declare Robert a free agent until after June 15. By July 2, the new Collective Bargaining Agreement’s policies on international bonuses will go into effect, handcuffing teams with the maximum penalty for bonuses to a $300,000 signing figure for any available international prospect. It’s designed to effectively take away those teams’ abilities to sign additional international talent, and the Cardinals have already spent a reported $9.35 million in bonuses on Venezuelan outfielder Victor Garcia, Cuban outfielders Jonatan Machado and Randy Arozarena and Cuban right-hander Johan Oviedo.

Until the cutoff in mid-June, the Cardinals are likely to continue actively scouting other international talent, including Robert. MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez quotes an anonymous National League scouting director who describes Robert as the No. 2 talent behind Japanese wunderkind Shohei Otani. The 19-year-old hit .286/.319/.397 with a .716 OPS during a 16-game run in the Canadian-American League in 2016, following up an impressive three-year tenure with the Ciego de Avila in the Cuban National Series from 2013-2015.

Cubs extend Pedro Strop through 2018

CLEVELAND, OH - OCTOBER 25:  Pedro Strop #46 of the Chicago Cubs reacts during the sixth inning against the Cleveland Indians in Game One of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field on October 25, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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ESPN’s Jesse Rogers reported over the weekend that the Cubs and reliever Pedro Strop agreed to a contract extension. He’ll remain with the Cubs through 2018 and the new deal includes a club option for the 2019 season as well. Per Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune, Strop will earn $5.85 million in 2018 and the club option is worth $6.25 million with a $500,000 buyout. The two sides already avoided arbitration earlier this month, agreeing on a $5.5 million salary for the 2017 season.

Strop, 31, has been a very reliable reliever for the Cubs over the last three years. He has a combined 2.65 ERA with 212 strikeouts and 69 walks over 176 1/3 innings in that span of time.

The Cubs replaced Aroldis Chapman with Wade Davis, so Strop and Hector Rondon will be bridging the gap to Davis this coming season.

Strop joined the Cubs along with Jake Arrieta in the July 2013 trade that sent Steve Clevenger and Scott Feldman to the Orioles. That trade panned out well for the Cubs.