Now that Zack Greinke is in Milwaukee, meet the next big trade target

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Now that the Zack Greinke trade is official, Matt Garza figures to be the most popular name brought up in trade conversations in the coming days and weeks.

Garza, who just turned 27 last month, has become a legitimate frontline starter since coming over from the Twins in November of 2007, posting a 3.86 ERA over 95 games (94 starts) with the Rays, averaging 7.1 K/9 and 3.1 BB/9. And pitching in the tough AL East, no less. The right-hander went 15-10 with a 3.91 ERA this past season and has topped 200 innings in each of the past two seasons.

The Rays have a pretty nice commodity with Garza in that he is under team control through 2013. So while he isn’t an “ace” like Greinke, he’ll still cost quite a bit in return. Garza made $3.35 million in his first time through the arbitration process last winter as a “Super Two.”

We have already heard that the Rays are motivated to trade Garza and that the team has talked about a potential deal with the Cubs. The Rangers have emerged as a potential suitor in recent days, especially after losing out on Cliff Lee. The Nationals have been involved in talks for just about every pitcher available this winter, including Garza, Lee and Greinke. No way they give up now. Judging by the way this Hot Stove has taken shape, there’s probably some surprise team I’m leaving out.

Rays VP Andrew Friedman told Roger Mooney of the Tampa Tribune on Friday that he wasn’t motivated to move any of his starting pitchers, though he did qualify his statement by saying he is “open minded.” That sounds like GM speak for “make me an offer.”

It sounds like Adrián Beltré is mulling retirement

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Rangers third baseman Adrián Beltré is dealing with a Grade 2 strain of his left hamstring, marking the third time this season the 39-year-old has dealt with a hamstring issue. The injuries are weighing on Beltré, who sounds like he is mulling retirement.

Gerry Fraley of the Dallas Morning News reports that Beltré said, “It brings the question of is this going to keep happening more often? Is it worth it to fight back? Is it a sign that it’s getting closer to time to say good-bye to you guys?”

In 358 plate appearances this season, Beltré has hit .278/.335/.394 with seven home runs and 41 RBI. His .729 OPS would be his lowest since 2009, when he put up a .683 OPS with the Mariners. Beltré is a free agent after the season and turns 40 years old in April. It wouldn’t be surprising if he decided to call it quits after this season. If he does hang ’em up, Beltré will be — in this writer’s humble opinion — a first-ballot Hall of Famer when he is eligible five years from retirement.