Cubs Scott Feldman, Matt Garza first on scouts’ minds
BY GORDON WITTENMYER firstname.lastname@example.org June 30, 2013 10:16PM
Updated: August 2, 2013 7:36AM
SEATTLE — Enjoy it while you can.
Like the rare three-day burst of sunshine in Seattle over the weekend, the Cubs’ recent surge in the win column could be short-lived now that the calendar turns to July and teams turn to the Cubs’ long list of roster parts for sale.
Contrary to recent media reports, the Cubs aren’t close to any deals for their highest-value trade asset, right-handed starter Matt Garza. But they have enough key pieces on the block that it’s conceivable they could start making trades by the All-Star break two weeks from now.
Team president Theo Epstein called that a ‘‘50-50’’ possibility.
‘‘Judging by the amount of calls that are going on and the number of pieces that we’d potentially have available and the opportunities that might present themselves for us to get better, yeah, I’d say 50-50,’’ Epstein said.
He won’t say who those players might be or which teams are calling.
But sources say at least two National League West teams and the Baltimore Orioles have strong interest in right-hander Scott Feldman (7-6, 3.46 ERA), who figures to have another strong following of scouts in Oakland on Tuesday when he starts the opener of a three-game series.
Garza, who starts Wednesday in another showcase pitching event for scouts, could go down to close to the July 31 trading deadline as the Cubs try to leverage one of the few starters on the market with frontline ability and a postseason track record.
More than a dozen teams were in Milwaukee to watch Feldman and Garza make their most recent starts Wednesday and Thursday.
The Boston Red Sox, who could be shoppers in a number of areas, including pitching, have one of their top scouts following the Cubs through the entire six-game swing through Seattle and Oakland.
Closer Kevin Gregg, who converted his 13th save with a 1-2-3 ninth on Sunday — after his first blown save of the year Saturday — looks like the third-hottest Cubs target for contenders, perceived as no worse than a viable setup man in a pennant race.
If the Cubs wind up getting the deals they seek for key members of their pitching staff, then performances like what Edwin Jackson turned in Sunday to beat the Mariners 7-6 in the series finale will become especially important over the final two months as the Cubs backfill the quality innings they trade away.
Jackson (4-10), who’s in the first year of a four-year, $52 million deal, pitched into the seventh for just his sixth quality start as he tries to reverse one of the roughest first halves of his career.
‘‘That’s always important,’’ manager Dale Sveum said. ‘‘Obviously, we know what can happen on the business part of this. Innings are important, but for him [it’s also about] getting consistent command of that fastball and that velocity at the same time.’’
Alfonso Soriano could be one of the more intriguing story lines as the Cubs wheel and deal, especially if his 7-for-14, two-homer, three-double series in Seattle means he has started one of his two- or three-week hot streaks.
With another year after this left on his eight-year, $136 million deal, he could be in the mix for a possible trade through August because he’s certain to clear waivers after July.
‘‘He’s someone who, if you look at the last year-and-a-half as a whole, has performed,’’ Epstein said of the left fielder who had 32 homers and 108 RBI in 2012. ‘‘Let’s hope that beautiful swing he took [on Saturday’s homer] gets him really hot.’’