Matt Garza's agent said the Chicago Cubs' right-hander has been told he'll be dealt. He is the top pitcher known to be on the market and a free agent at the end of the season, so the Cubs hold the hammer in trade negotiations and are holding out for the richest offer.
Garza isn't the only answer to pitching-needy teams at the deadline. Yankees' right-hander Phil Hughes is a power arm who might be a great fit in a bigger ballpark, where he'd leave home-run issues at Yankee Stadium behind him. Jake Peavy (White Sox), Cliff Lee (Phillies) and Yovani Gallardo (Brewers) are other veterans that could be had -- only if suitors want to pay the price in prospects and sizable salaries.
It's not always the rich and most famous who pay the greatest dividends at the deadline. Marco Scutaro was in the bargain bin last summer when the Giants plucked him via trade. Three months later Scutaro was the NLCS MVP.
Will Garza join veteran right-hander Ricky Nolaso -- already dealt from the Marlins to the Dodgers -- in changing his address at midseason?
For teams who have a specific shopping list, here are the best buys available at every other position approaching the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline:
Catcher: Carlos Ruiz, Phillies; Ryan Doumit, Twins
Ruiz is a one-year stopgap option at 34 and in the midst of a down season that began with a 50-game suspension. He was an All-Star last season and has a history of driving the ball with runners on base. Doumit isn't an ideal defensive catcher but as a platoon option at multiple positions -- first base, designated hitter, left field -- his clout makes him appealing for a team that wants to add offense or needs to beef up its bench.
First base: Justin Morneau, Twins
The White Sox might want to deal Paul Konerko, but the 37-year-old is on the disabled list and has a no-trade clause. Morneau and Seattle's Mike Morse are the best of the lot, but neither is a perfect option for different reasons. Morneau has morphed into a contact hitter with gap-to-gap doubles power and is a better fit for a National League team. His injury (concussion) history is a worry. Morse and teammate Kendrys Morales are expected to be moved if the Mariners can net a reasonable offer and Morse, also on the disabled list, gets back in time to prove his health.
Second base: Chase Utley, Phillies.
There are more appealing players available for buyers who don't want to part with top prospects, including Gordon Beckham of the White Sox and Rickie Weeks of the Brewers. But Beckham is a streaky hitter with weakling power numbers and Weeks is owed more than $22 million, including a player option, over the next two seasons. Utley will only become available if the Phillies fade and general manager Ruben Amaro is blown away by an offer. Utley also has an extensive no-trade clause and has spent plenty of time on the disabled list in the past three seasons.
Shortstop: Alexei Ramirez, White Sox.
Chicago would willingly absorb some of the $23 million remaining on Ramirez's deal, but that kind of commitment figures to push teams looking at the middle infield market to shop elsewhere. The odds of Cleveland parting with Asdrubal Cabrera -- rather than give him a long-term deal -- are microscopic. Slick-fielding Mariners' shortstop Brendan Ryan and Astros' defensive specialist Ronny Cedeno are worth consideration.
Third base: Michael Young, Phillies.
Boston has been hot on the trail of Young for weeks, but the Phillies are holding their chips for another week or more to see how the NL East race shapes up days before the deadline. Young, 36, is a pure hitter and can play first, second or third base. Chase Headley's lousy first half doesn't mean he'll be on the market; it'll take a top prospect to net him from San Diego. Aramis Ramirez (Brewers) isn't likely going anywhere because of his contract ($16 million through 2014), age (35) and decline in power numbers (five home runs, 11 doubles in 2013 is down from 27 and a career-high 50 doubles last season).
Outfielders: Marlon Byrd, Mets; Michael Morse, Mariners; Alex Rios, White Sox.
Alex Rios is the best outfielder on the market in terms of talent and potential impact. He's signed through 2015 and is a good corner outfielder and a perennial 20-HR, 85-RBI bat that could slot anywhere from second to sixth in a winning batting order. Morse, also mentioned as a first baseman, is on the shelf with a strained right quad and returning to chase fly balls in the outfield isn't in his best interest. As a streaky power bat, his flexibility to slide to first or DH in the American League makes him intriguing. Byrd, 35, is having a rebirth with the New York Mets, leading team with 15 home runs in the first half.
Designated hitter: Kendrys Morales, Mariners; Josh Willingham, Twins (injured); Adam Dunn, White Sox.
Morales, 30, is a switch-hitter and ideal fifth or sixth hitter in an American League lineup. He's not as consistent or productive as a right-handed hitter but at just $5.2 million, his 2013 salary isn't cumbersome. You can't say that for Dunn, who has $20 million remaining on his contract that expires after next season. Adam Lind, as a lefty platoon or bat off the bench, is worth a flier for a team in need of more offense. Willingham could still be on the disabled list at the end of the month -- not appealing, but not a deal-breaker either.
Relief pitcher: Kevin Gregg, Cubs; Francisco Rodriguez, Brewers; Joba Chamberlain, Yankees; Jonathan Papelbon, Phillies.
The market for relievers is loaded, including former fulltime closers in multitude. Chamberlain is available and his power potential as part of a three-man chain from the seventh through ninth innings should bring the Yankees a respectable return. Gregg has been solid in his second stint in Chicago and gets the job done without overpowering stuff. K-Rod and teammate John Axford have closing experience and have also handled the eighth-inning role. There are plenty of contenders -- Red Sox, Tigers, Cardinals -- looking for relief help.