Contenders looking at Chicago for help ahead of baseball's non-waiver trade deadline

  • Article by: JAY COHEN , AP Sports Writer
  • Updated: July 15, 2013 - 7:45 PM

CHICAGO — You can find everything from toys to designer clothes for your dog when you go shopping on the Magnificent Mile, a luxurious stretch of stores and boutiques in downtown Chicago.

Of course, that experience pales in comparison to the shopping taking place at the city's two ballparks this summer.

Like tourists looking for the latest electronic gadget, an increasing number of scouts from baseball's top teams have filled the seats behind home plate at Wrigley Field and U.S. Cellular Field ahead of the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.

While the Cubs and White Sox are well off the pace in their respective divisions, Chicago remains a pivotal place in the pennant race because of the available players who could play a key role for a contender down the stretch.

"Our job is to be realistic about where we are and where we're going and act accordingly," said Theo Epstein, president of baseball operations for the Cubs.

Where the Cubs are at the All-Star break is fourth in the NL Central, 15 games behind division-leading St. Louis. They are a respectable 24-21 in their last 45 games, but the North Siders are coming off their first 100-loss season since 1966 and still ensconced in a rebuilding mode.

Fortunately for Epstein and Co., they may have the top pitcher on the trade market in Matt Garza. Alfonso Soriano also could be on the move, especially if an American League contender in a warm climate is interested, a situation that could be enough for the aging slugger to agree to the trade.

Garza, who missed the first part of the season after he strained a back muscle in spring training, is 5-0 with a 1.24 ERA in his last six starts. With a handful of scouts watching his every move, the right-hander limited high-scoring St. Louis to two runs in 6 2-3 innings during Chicago's 6-4 victory on Saturday night.

"He's one of the hardest working pitchers you're going to be around," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. "Even the four days he doesn't pitch he's on the bench and he's rooting his teammates on."

The 29-year-old Garza pitched in five playoff games during his time with Tampa Bay, going 2-1 with a 3.48 ERA. While should make him even more attractive for a contender, he's also eligible for free agency after this season, potentially limiting the type of haul the Cubs could get in return.

It's a tricky situation for Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer to navigate in their second season in charge of the Cubs.

"He's obviously throwing extremely well and he's very healthy and there are teams out there looking for pitching who are going to call and try to acquire him," Epstein said Friday. "For us, he's helping us win games right now, there's a chance to possibly retain him beyond this year, so we'll just balance all that out and do what's best for the organization."

While Garza has generated much of the trade speculation, Soriano is batting .323 with nine homers and 19 RBIs in his last 16 games. The Cubs tried to move him last July, but he vetoed a trade to San Francisco.

With just 2014 left on his $136 million, eight-year contract, the veteran outfielder could be a more attractive commodity for a contender this year. An AL team that could provide time at designated hitter would be a particularly solid match.

While Garza and Soriano are surging at the right time for the Cubs, a couple of the biggest trade chips for the White Sox have been hampered by injuries of late. It's just another unfortunate turn of events for the South Siders, who have lost 13 of 18 games to fall to 37-55 at the break, last in the AL Central.

All-Star reliever Jesse Crain was placed on the disabled list on July 3 with a strained shoulder. The right-hander, who is 2-3 with a 1.15 ERA in 38 appearances, could be back after the break. Starting pitcher Jake Peavy is coming back from a broken right rib.

"I think if there's anything that could go wrong this year for the White Sox, it's gone wrong," Crain said after he was placed on the disabled list.

Reliever Matt Thornton was dealt to the Red Sox on Friday, and there's likely more trades to come. Outfielder Alex Rios, left-hander John Danks and reliever Matt Lindstrom all could be on the move in Rick Hahn's first season as general manager for the White Sox.

"Right now I've got these guys," manager Robin Ventura said. "I haven't been told to do anything different. You just manage like you would any other time. I think it's harder for guys hearing rumors, just making sure they keep their focus and play hard. In the end, it's their numbers and everything else so it still counts."

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Tampa 6 FINAL
Philadelphia 2
LA Clippers 96 FINAL
Chicago 86
Cleveland 103 FINAL
Houston 105
Golden State 106 FINAL
Boston 101
Philadelphia 74 FINAL
Indiana 94
Portland 110 FINAL
Sacramento 99
Charlotte 98 FINAL
Orlando 83
Oklahoma City 108 FINAL
LA Lakers 101
New Orleans 99 FINAL
Denver 92
Los Angeles 2 FINAL
Winnipeg 5
Tampa Bay 3 FINAL
Florida 4
Columbus 3 FINAL
Pittsburgh 5
Toronto 0 FINAL
Washington 4
Anaheim 3 FINAL
Dallas 1
St. Louis 5 FINAL(SO)
Vancouver 6
SMU 73 FINAL
Connecticut 81
Quinnipiac 65 FINAL
Manhattan 69
Fairfield 56 FINAL
Niagara 57
Marist 49 FINAL
Rider 59
Iona 60 FINAL
Saint Peters 68
Oregon State 56 FINAL
California 73
South Florida 55 FINAL
Houston 72
Marquette 66 FINAL
Providence 77
Michigan State 61 FINAL
Wisconsin 68
Siena 57 FINAL
Monmouth 63
Pittsburgh 66 FINAL
Wake Forest 69
Oregon 73 FINAL
Stanford 70
Purdue 61 FINAL
Ohio State 65
Arizona State 81 FINAL
Colorado 87
Washington St 67 FINAL
UCLA 72
Georgetown 66 FINAL
Providence 81
Binghamton 50 FINAL
UMBC 73
Elon 65 FINAL
Hofstra 58
Virginia Tech 47 FINAL
Boston College 49
(8) Louisville 59 FINAL
Virginia 75
Texas 69 FINAL
West Virginia 76
Creighton 53 FINAL
Villanova 61
Seton Hall 85 FINAL
Butler 76
UNC-Wilmington 76 FINAL
Coll of Charleston 65
(5) Maryland 69 FINAL
(25) Northwestern 48
Saint Josephs 67 FINAL
La Salle 55
Louisiana Tech 53 FINAL
TX-San Antonio 60
Rhode Island 70 FINAL
Massachusetts 78
Richmond 55 FINAL
VA Commonwealth 49
Davidson 46 FINAL
Fordham 54
St Bonaventure 43 FINAL
Duquesne 51
George Mason 45 FINAL
(22) George Washington 80
Indiana 60 FINAL
(20) Rutgers 71
(12) Texas A&M 63 FINAL
LSU 80
Ole Miss 47 FINAL
(11) Miss State 55
Clemson 56 FINAL
Pittsburgh 61
Maine 47 FINAL
New Hampshire 61
Vermont 48 FINAL
Albany 76
Quinnipiac 87 FINAL
Monmouth 48
Saint Peters 47 FINAL
Siena 64
(4) Notre Dame 67 FINAL
NC State 60
Wisconsin 62 FINAL
Penn State 56
Stony Brook 49 FINAL
Hartford 56
Northeastern 47 FINAL
William & Mary 62
St Johns 61 FINAL
Xavier 74
James Madison 74 FINAL
Delaware 71
Towson 45 FINAL
Drexel 50
Illinois State 50 FINAL
Bradley 60
Southern Ill 74 FINAL
Loyola-Chicago 70
Northern Iowa 54 FINAL
Wichita State 66
Minnesota 76 FINAL
(17) Iowa 92
(15) North Carolina 80 FINAL
(16) Duke 81
Alabama 73 FINAL
Auburn 80
(9) Florida State 69 FINAL
Miami-Florida 55
Arkansas 41 FINAL
Missouri 57
Georgia 52 FINAL
Florida 45
Dayton 95 FINAL
Saint Louis 68
Drake 57 FINAL
Missouri State 86
Colorado 46 FINAL
(10) Arizona State 59
(19) Stanford 55 FINAL
Oregon 62
Marquette 82 FINAL
DePaul 99
Southern Miss 66 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 60
Vanderbilt 49 FINAL
(6) Tennessee 79
(2) South Carolina 56 FINAL
(13) Kentucky 67
Utah 41 FINAL
Arizona 64
Ohio State 78 FINAL
Nebraska 60
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Which Twins player are you most interested in during spring training?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close