Many of the trade partners for Matt Garza either 1) are close to being out of the race altogether or 2) don't have a glaring need for starting pitching. What's that mean to the Cubs? It means the desperation the Cubs front office is hoping to find might not be out there (yet).
The Close to Non-Contenders
I'm close to calling it on the Padres. They're out of the playoff hunt right now. As I write this, they have a worse record than the Cubs. They have four teams ahead of them and while none of them look like world beaters, that's a lot of teams to jump. At 7½ games out of the N.L. West lead, the Padres are close to done. It's a shame too, because they desperately could have used Garza if they'd stayed in the race.
After trading half of their vaunted system in the offseason in order to go for it, the Blue Jays find themselves in an all-too-familiar place: toward the bottom of the AL East. The AL East is a pipedream (11½ out) and they're eight games back in the wild card with four teams ahead of them. I'm not calling the Jays dead... yet. But they're on life support. Giving up more assets to salvage a middling season would be tough, which is a shame, because if they were in it they could really use a starter.
The Giants are in a similar boat with the Padres, except that they at least have recent success that tells them they're underachieving. The Giants are in fourth place in the NL West, 6½ games behind the Diamondbacks. They do need pitching, though, so if they can go on a mini-run, maybe Garza looks like an attractive option.
The Pirates keep getting mentioned with Garza and I'm not really sure why. Their rotation has been great and they should get Wandy Rodriguez back soon (even though he had a rehab setback 10 days ago). Even if you're a big believer in peripherals, FIP says their rotation has still been top-10. Maybe they decide they really want to go all-in on this year, but they have a nice young talent pipeline and they need that talent because of their payroll. Seems like a shortsighted move for them to give up top prospects for a rental like Garza.
Jon Daniels may be getting antsy, after having teams reach the World Series two of the last three years only to not come away with a championship. But I question whether Daniels will give up major assets to put his rotation "over the top" when he has some pretty good players coming back from injury soon. Alexi Ogando should be returning from injury in the next week or two. Yu Darvish went on the disabled list yesterday as a precautionary measure and should be back soon. The guy they really want back is Matt Harrison, who is now expected to be out until late August. The Rangers do have Colby Lewis coming back in late July, so he can certainly slide into that No. 5 role. The Rangers are in a dogfight in the AL West and they want to stay out of that one-game wild card. If the guys coming back from injury can stay healthy, though, I just don't see the Rangers ponying up major prospects for Garza.
The Dodgers are crazy, but are they willing to give up more assets to fill a position they don't really need to? Chris Capuano is still in the rotation after Stephen Fife was placed on the DL. But Fife should be back soon. The Dodgers have plenty of top of the rotation guys. Would Garza make their rotation dominant? Honestly, yeah, pretty much. But do they need him? Absolutely not.
The Nationals have been treading water in the NL East and in the NL Wildcard, staying within striking distance of each. But the top of their rotation certainly hasn't been their problem, as Jordan Zimmermann, Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez have been great. Ross Detwiler was fine for them and is now on the DL, albeit for a short period of time. Do they need a fifth starter? Yes. But a top of the rotation guy is a luxury for them, not a need.
Clay Buchholz should be back soon for the Red Sox, which should allow them to replace Allen Webster in their rotation. Jon Lester has struggled mightily of late, but John Lackey and Buchholz are a pretty formidable one-two punch. If they think Lester has lost something, they could use some help with depth, but a top of the rotation guy doesn't seem necessary.
Yeah, these teams really do need him
The Indians seem like they're trying to talk themselves into the idea that Ubaldo Jimenez and Scott Kazmir are starting to come around. Even if that were true, they lack top of the rotation guys that can make a difference. Garza could slide in here and immediately be the ace.
Wei-Yin Chen has returned from the disabled list, but this Orioles team seems to lack true top of the rotation guys. Scott Feldman will help the problems they've had at the back end of their rotation, but he doesn't fix the fact that they lack studs. Garza could be one guy to fix that problem and turn the Orioles rotation from a weak spot to a strong one with the additions of Chen, Feldman and Garza in the span of a few weeks.
The Rockies are said to be looking at Matt Garza and it makes a lot of sense, because the back end of their rotation has been atrocious and the front end is probably overachieving. Matt Garza probably slides into the No. 1 spot in their rotation immediately.
COME AND SEE HOW GOOD MATT GARZA LOOKS! (AKA teams that should be involved, but aren't)
The Yankees seem like they should be in better shape, but CC Sabathia and Andy Pettitte haven't been very good. They get Michael Pineda back soon, which should help the back end of their rotation, but if their studs don't pick it up they could need some help at the top too.
To my knowledge, the Athletics have never been mentioned in the Matt Garza trade talks. That's odd, because he seems like a good fit for a rotation that has a lot of meh in it. No one is performing overly bad in the A's rotation, they just only have one guy (Bartolo Colon) that's pitching well. And that one guy could be suspended any day for his involvement in the BioGenesis scandal. They do get Brett Anderson back soon, but he'd just slide right into their pool of meh.
The Diamondbacks are supposedly focusing on starters that aren't rentals and have targeted Yovani Gallardo and Jeff Samardzija as two guys they'd like to pursue. Unfortunately for them, Gallardo has been a train wreck this year and Shark is going to be mind bogglingly expensive. They may not want a rental, but there don't seem to be a whole lot of non-rental options out there.
Others that haven't been mentioned with Garza and are on the fringe of the playoff race
The Phillies are starting to put it together and if they become buyers, they could use a top of the rotation starter. The Royals are within shouting distance in the AL Central and if they go on a run in the next 3 weeks, they need someone to come in and fix their rotation too.
What could make these teams more desperate?
Injuries. Let's not hide it, the reality is the Cubs' position gets stronger as the starting pitching for contending teams get more and more banged up. The Cubs are holding their ground hoping someone gets desperate. The quickest way there is an injury to a key starter. Without that desperation, you could see the Garza talks last until the very end of July.