Alfonso Soriano, Kevin Gregg join Matt Garza on Cubs’ trade block
BY GORDON WITTENMYER firstname.lastname@example.org July 21, 2013 9:17PM
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Updated: July 22, 2013 5:01PM
DENVER — We interrupt the streaming, screaming coverage of the Matt Garza Trade-Talk Marathon for his regularly scheduled start Monday for the Cubs.
And to offer a reminder to keep an eye on some of the other Cubs who suddenly might be in position to be traded even sooner than the top player on the market if the Garza talks drift toward his next start Saturday.
At least a half-dozen other Cubs are candidates to be moved by the July 31 non-waiver deadline, and closer Kevin Gregg is among the top two or three relievers being shopped.
“Garza’s a headline piece, but I think that in the baseball world, people are looking for relievers,” said Gregg, who relishes a chance to pitch in the playoffs for the first time since he was a setup guy for the Angels in 2005. “I hope I’m on that list.”
The Tigers, Red Sox and Diamondbacks are among contenders looking for bullpen help, and the Giants just lost Jeremy Affeldt (albeit, a left-hander) for at least a month with a groin injury. The Rockies also are said to have interest — though not apparently strong enough to pay the price.
The Cubs’ big wild-card trading chip is Alfonso Soriano, whose $25 million in outstanding salary obligation makes him a certainty to clear waivers and give the Cubs time in August to make a deal.
A major-league source Sunday said the Yankees’ increasing need for an every-day bat has the surging Soriano on the team’s radar, especially given the rediscovered youth he says he feels in his legs this season.
Nate Schierholtz, one of the Cubs’ more popular trade chips, is viewed by the Yankees as more of a platoon player, especially unattractive in a division with several frontline left-handers among the contenders.
With Derek Jeter’s every-day status less than certain the rest of the year and Alex Rodriguez’s MRI exam Sunday showing a strained quad, the Yankees’ interest could get serious quickly. They have scouts following the Cubs on this trip.
“We’ll see what happens,” said Soriano, who has full no-trade rights and said he’s open to considering any team that’s “less than five games” out.
The Yankees entered Sunday’s game against first-place Boston six games behind the Red Sox, in fourth place in the American League East — 2½ games behind the second wild-card spot.
“A contender, good team, good city,” he said of some of the factors he’ll consider, acknowledging a comfort zone with his original team as well as New York City and Florida spring training.
The Cubs’ catching corps also could take a hit, with Dioner Navarro — Garza’s personal catcher — on the block, potentially as a piece in a Garza deal.
Navarro knows the drill but didn’t start thinking about it until his wife brought it up to him during the All-Star break after seeing his name in media reports.
“She said, ‘I want to be ready because I ain’t doing this by myself again,’ ’’ said Navarro, who was traded in midseason from the Dodgers to Tampa Bay in 2006. “I’m ready for anything.”
And Garza says he’s ready to pitch for the Cubs on Monday, even as the team re-engaged in talks with other teams in the wake of failed efforts with Texas on Friday — believed to include the Pirates, Athletics and Red Sox.
A major-league source said the Giants were poking around, too. Some industry sources also believe Baltimore, which already acquired Scott Feldman from the Cubs and continues to scout the Cubs on this trip, could be a sleeper team for Garza.
“All I know is he’s pitching tomorrow,” Sveum said, “and if we get a phone call and something changes, that’s the way it is.”