The Cubs get Matt Garza in an eight-player deal

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UPDATE:  Bruce Levine of ESPN Chicago says the deal is done: eight players are involved in the deal that sends Matt Garza from Tampa Bay to the Cubs.

Specifically: the Rays will get pitching prospect Chris Archer — the Cubs’ number one prospect — outfielder Brandon Guyer, catcher Robinson Chirinos, shortstop Hak-Ju Lee and outfielder Sam Fuld. In addition to Garza, the Cubs will get a minor-league pitcher and a minor-league outfielder.

This is a big, big deal. Mostly for the Rays, who have added multiple top prospects to an already-stocked minor league system.  While Garza is a fine pitcher, he’s not that fine.  And the Rays aren’t going to miss much of a beat anyway, what with Jeremy Hellickson taking his spot in the rotation.

For the Cubs this is a head-scratcher. They need pitching, but their payroll is bloated and their farm system thin.  At some point they’re going to need to integrate some cheap talent into that mix, and they just gave away a lot of it for a good but by no means great pitcher.

This is a win for the Rays. It may mean a short term improvement for the Cubs, but I don’t like this deal for them.

10:52 AMBruce Miles reports that the Cubs are nearing a trade for Matt Garza.

We first reported that the Cubs and Rays were talking about Garza a month ago. There have been multiple on-again, off-again reports since then.  This stuff now seems like a new, more urgent push, with people in the Twitterverse who are in the know characterizing it as close to being done.

The rumored return: prospects Chris Archer, Hak-Ju Lee,Brandon Guyer and Robinson Chirinos.  Baseball America ranked Archer as the Cubs’ number 1 prospect last year, Lee as the number 4 and Guyer as number 10. Not sure on Chirinos, but I hear he has a great personality. (UPDATE:  Chirinos is the number 16 prospect)

Seems like a steep asking price for Garza.  But the Cubs are pretty desperate for some starting pitching.  We’ll update this as events unfold, of course.

Jim Hickey steps down as Cubs’ pitching coach

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The Cubs announced on Tuesday that Jim Hickey has stepped down as the pitching coach due to personal reasons. The club will begin a search for a replacement.

Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said in a statement, “Jim Hickey notified us yesterday of his decision to step down as pitching coach and leave the organization for personal reasons. We thank Jim for his season with the Cubs and his positive impact on our pitchers. Jim has our full support and we all wish him well.”

Hickey, 57, spent over a decade as a coach in the Rays organization before joining the Cubs for the past season, reuniting with Joe Maddon. The Cubs’ starting staff ranked 10th among all 30 teams with a 3.84 ERA and the bullpen posted an NL-best 3.35 ERA.