January 07, 2011

There is a deal in place to send Matt Garza from the Tampa Bay Rays to the Chicago Cubs, pending physicals, sources say. The Cubs' interest in the 27-year-old right-hander has been well-documented.

Outfielder Fernando Perez and a possible third player will also be going to Chicago. In exchange the Rays will get Chris Archer, Hak-Ju Lee, Brandon Guyer, Robinson Chirinos and Sam Fuld. Archer and Lee are considered top prospects, but the Cubs managed to hang on to Starlin Castro, Tyler Colvin and Brett Jackson, their very best young players.

Archer, a 22-year-old righty, went 8-2 with a 1.30 ERA in 13 starts at Double A in 2010. Lee, a 20-year-old shortstop from Korea, has batted .299 in two seasons in professional baseball, none higher than Class A, while racking up 57 stolen bases. Guyer is a 24-year-old outfielder who played at Double A in 2010, Chirinos is a 26-year-old who was recently converted to catcher, and Fuld is a 29-year-old outfielder who has played 98 games in the majors in parts of three seasons.

The Cubs now have a very good starting rotation that has great depth. In addition to Garza, the Cubs have Carlos Zambrano, Ryan Dempster and Andrew Cashner as their likely top four with veterans Carlos Silva, Randy Wells and Tom Gorzelany in contention for the No. 5 spot.

Garza will not be a free agent until after the 2013 season but he is eligible for arbitration this year for the first time. The Rays have been looking to lower their payroll from last season and have already lost 2010 AL All-Stars Carl Crawford and Joaquin Benoit to free agency, among others. Carlos Pena, another All-Star last season, already bolted Tampa Bay for the Cubs during last month's winter meetings.

In 2010, Garza pitched a no-hitter against the Tigers, part of a season in which he established career highs in wins (15) and innings pitched (204 2/3). In parts of five major league seasons, Garza has gone 42-44 with a 3.93 ERA and three shutouts.

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