The Rangers, it would seem, were what real estate agents would call a motivated buyer.
Less than a day after a deal that would have sent Cubs starter Matt Garza to Texas reportedly fell through, the teams announced that the veteran right-hander had been scratched from his scheduled turn Monday night and dealt to the Rangers instead.
The key: Heralded infielder Mike Olt, ranked the No. 19 prospect in baseball by MLB.com. Chicago will also receive right-handers C.J. Edwards and Justin Grimm and at least one player to be named.
As recently as last season, teams asking about Olt were told that he was virtually untouchable. But with the Rangers in a battle for a playoff spot one year after fading down the stretch and missing the postseason -- following two straight World Series appearances -- they decided to use that chip to acquire a badly needed veteran starter to stabilize a rotation that has been hit hard by injuries.
Garza can be a free agent at the end of the season, and the Rangers will not receive compensation if he signs elsewhere. But with Yu Darvish also being activated from the disabled list Monday, the Rangers have bolstered their rotation for a strong second-half push.
With Garza off the board, the next starting pitchers to be targeted could be Houston's Bud Norris or Jake Peavy of the White Sox.
According to MLB.com's Brian McTaggart, Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow hasn't been shy about trading veteran players for prospects in the last 18 months, and the fact Norris makes $3 million and is eligible for arbitration again this winter could make a trade more likely. Norris, 28, is 6-9 with a 3.91 ERA in 20 starts this year for the Astros and has been their most consistent starting pitcher.
"Lot of chatter and no activity on our side right now," Luhnow said before the Garza deal was announced. "I'm hearing there was a big trade today, and if that's true, that may start a series of different type of talks now that one of the big chips has been moved."
The White Sox, meanwhile, are widely expected to be active before the Deadline. Peavy could be attractive to a team looking not only to strengthen itself for the stretch run, but to add rotation depth moving forward. He'll make $14.5 million in 2014 but is also eligible for a qualifying offer, meaning a team that acquires him could recoup a Draft pick in 2015.
MLB.com's Scott Merkin reports that the White Sox are listening to all offers, although they're expected to drive a hard bargain. In addition to Peavy, Chicago could consider trading Alex Rios, Alexei Ramirez, Matt Lindstrom and maybe even Addison Reed, Alejandro De Aza and Jeff Keppinger.
Phillies bullish, for now
Right now, Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. is still focused on trying to add before the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline. But he also knows that six straight road games against two of the best teams in baseball could have a big impact on his approach.
The Phils open a three-game series against the Cardinals at Busch Stadium on Tuesday night, followed by a weekend series at Comerica Park against the Tigers.
"It's an important time for everybody in Major League Baseball, trying to figure out what they're going to do," Amaro told CSN Philadelphia's Jim Salisbury before Sunday afternoon's loss against the Mets at Citi Field. "We're one of them. If you ask me today, we're going try to improve the club somehow. That could change, I guess. But that's the thought process right now."
The Phillies are in need of bullpen help, a need made more acute when setup man Mike Adams was lost for the season. They've lost 11 games this year when they were tied or leading going into the eighth. Also, with center fielder Ben Revere expected to miss six to eight weeks with a broken foot, they're carrying just four outfielders since they don't believe they have any better options in their system.
"We've talked to clubs about trying to add some bullpen [help]," Amaro continued. "Right now, the price tag is high. It'll probably remain high. It'll depend whether or not we see if there's a fit for us. Many of the trades we've discussed, teams have asked for players that are on our Major League roster. It makes it difficult to subtract when we're trying to add."
The results in the next week could well have a big impact on how difficult that will ultimately be.
There are multiple teams looking for bullpen help, which means the Angels and Blue Jays could be getting a lot of calls.
Angels lefty reliever Scott Downs could be available, according to MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez. He'll be a free agent at the end of the season and will make about $1.65 million in the final two months. He's a ground-ball pitcher with a 1.32 ERA and 1.17 WHIP going into play Monday. While he's 37 and doesn't have above-average stuff, he's become a reliable lefty specialist.
Toronto's Darren Oliver is another veteran lefty who will be available prior to the Deadline, according to MLB.com's Gregor Chisolm. He doesn't have a no-trade clause, but the Blue Jays are expected to seek his consent before deciding if they deal him and to which team.
Closer Casey Janssen could also be on the block, although he has a very affordable team option for next year, so the Blue Jays would be looking for a rather nice piece in return. Otherwise, they'll hang onto him.
Paul Hagen is a reporter for MLB.com.