Garza-to-Rangers talks hit snag

The Texas Rangers are close to acquiring right-hander Matt Garza from the Chicago Cubs, according to two officials with knowledge of the discussions.

The Matt Garza trade talks between the Texas Rangers and Chicago Cubs hit a snag Friday afternoon, leaving the Cubs with an opening to send Garza to another club, according to major league sources.

The Rangers were close to acquiring right-hander Garza on Friday morning for a strong package of prospects, sources said. The cause of the snag is unclear, but likely is related to the medical records of one or more of the players in the deal.

Garza, 29, did not pitch until May 21 this season due to a strained left lat, and did not pitch after July 21 last season due to a stress reaction in his right elbow.

If the Rangers identified a problem with Garza, they might want the Cubs to accept a lesser package — and other teams, upon learning of the disruption in the negotiations, might not be willing to offer as much.

As of early Friday night, the Cubs had not re-engaged the Los Angeles Dodgers, one of the teams interested in Garza, a source said. The extent of the Cubs’ discussions with other clubs was not known.

This would not be the first time that Cubs president Theo Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer have failed to complete a deal that seemingly was imminent.

The Cubs within the past year have been close on deals that would have sent right-hander Ryan Dempster to Atlanta and reliever Carlos Marmol to Anaheim, only to see them collapse.

A source on Thursday described the Rangers as the “most motivated” bidder for Garza, a potential free agent who is 5-0 with a 1.24 ERA in his last six starts. But at that point, medical records had not been exchanged.

Garza would give the Rangers rotation a boost at a time when the team has five starters on the disabled list — left-hander Matt Harrison and righties Yu Darvish, Alexi Ogando, Nick Tepesch and Colby Lewis.

The Cubs and Rangers have discussed Texas prospects at various levels, including Class-A right-hander C.J. Edwards and Triple-A third baseman Mike Olt, sources said.

Edwards, who turns 22 on Sept. 3, is 8-2 with a 1.83 ERA at Class-A Hickory, with 122 strikeouts and 34 walks. Baseball America rated him the Rangers’ 14th-best prospect at the start of the season.

Texas’ interest in Garza goes back to at least 2011, when the Rangers tried to acquire him from Tampa Bay but lost out to the Cubs. The Rangers also tried to land Garza a year ago, but an injury to the pitcher prevented the deal from happening.

The trade of Garza would be the Cubs’ third of July, with more deals expected. Left fielder Alfonso Soriano, right fielder Nate Schierholtz, closer Kevin Gregg and left-handed reliever James Russell are among the other Cubs in play.

The Dodgers, Boston Red Sox, Arizona Diamondbacks, Cleveland Indians and St. Louis Cardinals are among the other clubs that have expressed interest in Garza, but all have been reluctant to meet the Cubs’ price for a rental of two-plus months, sources said.

If the Rangers complete the deal for Garza, they could try to extend his contract or re-sign him at the end of the season. They would not receive draft-pick compensation if he left as a free agent, according to the collective-bargaining agreement. Teams cannot make qualifying offers and receive compensation for players traded in the middle of a season.
 

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