Garza’s gone — is Soriano next?
BY GORDON WITTENMYER firstname.lastname@example.org July 22, 2013 10:48PM
The Cubs got at least four prospects from the Rangers for Matt Garza (left), including third baseman Mike Olt, who was regarded as the top minor leaguer in the Rangers’ system. But the player who could be the key to the deal is fast-rising Class A pitcher C.J. Edwards. Here’s a look at the three players the Cubs acquired:
Updated: August 24, 2013 6:39AM
PHOENIX — Whether Mike Olt becomes the next Ron Santo or C.J. Edwards becomes the next Greg Maddux for the Cubs, the more immediate impact of the trade of Matt Garza to the Texas Rangers on Monday could be what’s next for guys like Alfonso Soriano and Jeff Samardzija.
The Cubs aren’t done dealing and have more than a week left to make trades before the July 31 non-waiver deadline, another month after that in the case of Soriano, whose big contract assures he’ll clear waivers in August.
The team expects third baseman Olt and some of the pitching acquired Monday (and three weeks ago from Baltimore in the Scott Feldman deal) to become pieces of a new competitive core by 2015 or ’16.
But will Samardzija and some of the other young players on this team be there for that?
Obviously, Soriano never was going to be around by then. But did his short time just get shorter in the wake of Monday’s big trade?
Soriano, who has no-trade rights and another year left on his $136 million contract, said he doesn’t want to think about the trade interest his latest hot streak is stirring. But the prospect of another season of transition next year after this second straight July of roster churning has Soriano more likely than ever to approve a trade this summer.
“We’ve just got to keep playing,” he said. “We cannot control that situation, who goes, who stays.”
Samardzija, the Opening Day starter and new vocal leader of the rotation with Garza gone, has two years left of arbitration eligibility and already has turned down team efforts to negotiate a long-term contract.
He called Garza a “friend” and had repeatedly made the case for the Cubs to keep Garza for a brighter and quicker competitive future.
Asked whether the trade affects how he looks at the club long-term, he said, “I haven’t really thought about that too much. … We’ll see what happens in the offseason. Obviously, there’s still a long time to play here [this season], and I’m not even nearly close to where I want to be. I’m going to work hard in these last 12 or 13 or 14 starts and then we’ll cross that bridge when we get there.”
The trade, which nearly got done Friday could net the Cubs as many as five players, depending whether they elect one or two players to be named later in the deal.
The keys could be Olt and Class A starter Edwards, a slightly built, hard-throwing right-hander who might have been drafted in the top four rounds — according to one evaluator — instead of the 48th if more scouts had found him in tiny Prosperity, S.C.
Olt is a strong-fielding Class AAA third baseman with power the Cubs have tried for more than a year to acquire from Texas after failing to get the Rangers to include him in the Ryan Dempster deal. He was also a part of Garza trade discussions last year before Garza’s elbow injury derailed those talks.
A concussion in winter ball may have contributed to a poor first half offensively this year, Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said. But he has hit well this month.
The Cubs also got right-hander Justin Grimm, who was 8-8 with a 6.73 ERA during his time with the Rangers and has been assigned to Class AAA Iowa with Olt.
The Cubs will get one or two players to be named later, either completing the deal by selecting well-regarded pitching prospect Neil Ramirez, or getting two if they select from a list of other pitchers.