AL trade deadline preview

The Cubs were unlucky at the deadline last year. Matt Garza could make up for it in 2013. AP Photo/Morry Gash

Rival executives strongly believe that at most, Matt Garza has four to five starts remaining with the Chicago Cubs -- but probably fewer than that, because he has quickly developed into the most marketable, most sought-after starting pitcher, with a handful of American League teams involved in the chase. Garza had another strong outing Wednesday night against Oakland, and in his past 30 innings, he has allowed 3 runs, 19 hits, 8 walks and racked up 28 strikeouts.

Some teams view Garza warily, knowing that he was taken down by injury at the end of 2012 and at the outset of 2013. But as one AL official explained Wednesday, you have to assume that because Garza has so much at stake this year as a pitcher headed into the free-agent market, he will do everything possible to succeed. He has tens of millions of dollars at stake in the last half of the season -- and perhaps in October if his next team advances into the postseason.

Last year, the Cubs’ efforts to trade Garza were sabotaged when he got hurt. But this year, a dream scenario is developing for them: In a lukewarm market of starting pitchers, Garza has become The Target, because of how well he’s throwing and because of his history of pitching in the AL East and his past success.

Yesterday I took a look at the NL. Today, a rundown of where the AL teams stand, with just 27 days before the July 31 trade deadline:

Baltimore Orioles

They moved on Scott Feldman to ensure that they get somebody among the group of available starters, and in his first start for them Wednesday, he provided exactly what they paid for: six solid innings in a win against the White Sox.

The Orioles rank dead last in batting average from their designated hitters, at .205, and so they have some room for improvement, and some flexibility. I’ve thought (and this is pure speculation) that if the Phillies decided to move Chase Utley that there would be a perfect fit for him with the Orioles. He could play some second base, he could serve some in the DH role, and give them one more excellent grind-it-out hitter for an already deep lineup.

Boston Red Sox