Sources: Market heats up for Nolasco

One rival executive describes the Dodgers as “the front-runner” for Marlins right-hander Ricky Nolasco, but they are not the only team pursuing a trade for the potential free agent, according to major-league sources.

The San Diego Padres and San Francisco Giants continue to talk to the Marlins; the Baltimore Orioles are less confident of their chances and the Colorado Rockies no longer appear to be a factor, sources say.

The Marlins, according to one rival executive, want a “good” prospect for Nolasco and “all the money gone.” In other words, they want their trade partner to absorb the approximately $6 million remaining on Nolasco’s contract.

The Texas Rangers also loom as a possibility for Nolasco because of their short-term pitching needs and strong farm system, but Nolasco probably is more attractive to the National League West clubs. He is a native of Southern California, and would prefer to sign as a free agent with a West Coast team.

Nolasco, 30, is next scheduled to pitch Friday night in Miami against the Padres. With talks fluid, it is not clear whether he actually will make that start or be traded first. The Marlins often act decisively when making deals.

The team’s unwillingness to include money in a Nolasco trade, however, could result in the club receiving a lesser return. A deal with the Rockies was possible, according to one source, but the Marlins balked at paying part of Nolasco’s salary in exchange for better prospects.

The Padres and Dodgers, in addition to pursuing Nolasco, are among the teams interested in Cubs right-hander Matt Garza, another potential free agent. Garza produced his third straight impressive start on Thursday, striking out a season-high 10 in a 7-2 victory over the Brewers.

Garza and Nolasco are likely to be the first starting pitchers moved. The July 31 non-waiver deadline is more than a month away, and both could be flipped again if the teams that acquired them fall out of contention. The Brewers’ Yovani Gallardo and Astros’ Bud Norris, two pitchers under control beyond this season, are likely to be traded closer to the deadline.

Nolasco is 4-7 with a 3.68 ERA this season, and ranks 17th in the National League with 100-1/3 innings pitched. He is 80-71 lifetime with a career 4.43 ERA.