Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer have done a great job of dangling Matt Garza so far this offseason. By mentioning they are open for business on the right-handed starter, they have acquired the interest of five teams, all with eyes of contending in 2012 and all searching for one more starter to add to the rotation.
But of those five teams, which has the best package to offer the Cubs?
Let's start with the biggest team with traditionally the biggest payroll. It's no secret the Yankees are searching for pitching, but at what cost?
According to Wallace Matthews of ESPNNewYork.com, the Cubs are asking for at least two of the Yanks' three top prospects in catcher Jesus Montero, right-hander Dellin Betances and left-hander Manny Banuelos. Matthews says there's no way New York makes that move, and that's understandable.
Montero's bat is big-league ready while Betances, 23, and Banuelos, 20, finished last season at Triple-A and may be less than a year off of joining an MLB rotation.
But the Cubs have to be motivated to trade Garza and have said they would need to be blown away on a deal. Not sure if the Yankees are prepared to blow anybody away by dealing two -- or all three -- of these guys.
Jon Heyman brought up the idea of the Cubs working out a deal with the Red Sox for Garza that would also take care of the Theo Epstein compensation issue. It's not the craziest idea in the world, but I doubt that's what happens.
The Red Sox don't have many big-time pitching prospects to offer the Cubs in return and appear to be the least motivated of the five teams, at least publicly.
However, if the Yankees ramp up their interest, maybe the Red Sox get more desperate. They've got a big brotherlittle brother type of thing going there.
Let's keep it in the AL East.
I actually really like what the Blue Jays could give up for Garza, but are now reportedly unlikely to make a deal. That could change or it could just be a negotiating technique.
But the Jays have just what the Cubs need: a slew of young pitching prospects, headlined by Kyle Drabek (who was once dealt as a major piece for Roy Halladay but has since fallen on hard times), Deck McGuire (who some think may be near major-league ready) and Drew Hutchison. The Toronto farm system is crawling with a bunch of young, high-upside guys and the Cubs could easily ask for a package containing two or three of them.
The Blue Jays also have several catching and outfield options. Travis D'Arnaud, the organization's top prospect, is just about major-league ready but has J.P. Arencibia blocking him behind the dish. The Jays could deal one of these guys (or the less-heralded A.J. Jimenez) for pitching.
Anthony Gose and Jake Marisnick headline the Blue Jays' top outfielders and could help pad a potential deal for Garza.
We already went into a bit of detail about what the Cubs could get from Miami for Garza, but it's still intriguing. Since the Marlins don't have much in the way of pitching prospects, they may have to throw more position players at Theo and Jed in order to get their hands on Garza.
If the Nationals do wind up signing Prince Fielder, the Marlins will have to make another move to make sure they will compete in the NL East in 2012. The Marlins already felt pressure playing in a division where the Phillies and Braves are kings, but the Nats then went out and traded for Gio Gonzalez, closing the walls in further on Ozzie Guillen's new team.
2010 first-rounder OF Christian Yelich would be the cornerstone of any deal with Miami, and first baseman Gaby Sanchez would also likely be involved, as well as possibly third baseman Matt Dominguez or reliever Jose Ceda.
If the Tigers are willing to give up top pitching prospect Jacob Turner, as ESPN's Buster Olney has suggested, we could have a winner in the Garza sweepstakes.
The 20-year-old Turner got a cup of coffee in the bigs last year and while he struggled, he turned in a great 2011 at two stops at Double-A and Triple-A.
Third baseman Nick Castellanos, the Tigers' consensus No. 2 prospect, is probably off limits if Turner is on the table. Rumor has it the A's balked at sending Gonzalez to Detroit because the Tigers refused to deal both Castellanos and Turner.
Either way, the Tigers still have a healthy dose of pitching prospects in their system as well as some decent positions players. If Turner is involved as the cornerstone and two or three other prospects are thrown in the deal, this may be the best Theo and Jed can do.