Now the fun is about to begin… with the trade deadline approaching (July 31st; non-waiver). We will hear tons of rumors, many of which will not happen. But it’s still fun to hear them of what trade can happen. Here’s the latest from a busy week at the rumor mill:

Ryan Dempster would seem to be the first Cub traded, according to reports. Saturday could be Dempster’s last start in a Chicago Cub uniform as many teams are scouting him and may pull the trigger on a trade. Teams that have been scouting Dempster are the Los Angels Dodgers, Boston Red Sox, Baltimore Orioles, Los Angeles Angels, Atlanta Braves, Cleveland Indians, and the New York Yankees.

Of those teams mentioned above, the Los Angeles are said to be the favor to land Dempster. Greg Ofman said 2 pitching prospects of the Dodgers could entice the Cubs in a trade for Dempster. Ofman named Chris Withrow and Garret Gould. Withrow was rated the 6th best prospect and Gould was rated the 7th best prospect by Baseball America prior to the season. Both prospects aren’t great, but wouldn’t be a bad trade for the Cubs. Dempster is a free agent after this year, so don’t expect the Cubs to get ‘top prospects’.

I say Dempster will be traded before his next start after tomorrow’s. If not, hist 2nd start by the latest. Teams need starting pitching and Dempster has been one of he best pitchers in the MLB this year. Ben Cherrington said it the best, all the buyers this year are looking for starting pitching. By that, many teams aren’t trading good starters. Hamels and Greinke are said to be available, but both of their teams are making a last pitching to sign them to extensions. If that happens, watch out as the Cubs may get overblow with an offer.

Along with Dempster, the Cubs are said to be shopping Matt Garza ‘hard’. As Jon Heyman points out, the Dodgers are working hard to acquire Dempster but are also talking about Garza. I only see the Dodgers in the Dempster sweepstakes as they don’t have enough for Garza. Especially since the Cubs will be overpaid for Garza’s services.

The Baltimore Orioles reportedly have moved on from Garza, and move their intention to Jason Vargas. The Orioles said the price was just too steep as it should be.

The New York Yankees have Matt Garza atop their list and may make a huge offer in their effort to acquire him. The Yankees top ‘spects have struggled and may not be as enticing right not as if a trade happened in the off-season.

I still have the Detroit Tigers acquiring Garza as they need starting pitching badly. Headline by top pitching ‘spect Jacob Turner who will be ready now and the Cubs will not have to wait long for him to be ready. Turner looks to be a solid player, not an ace but has a ceiling of a 2 starter.

Jon Morosi points out that Brian LaHair has been talked about in almost every trade right now. It would seem that LaHair may be a goner very soon. He won’t attract much in a deal by himself, but if he’s added to a trade, the Cubs will get a better return. The Dodgers seem to have the most interest in LaHair too and pairing him with Dempster in a deal, seems possible.

The only reason I think LaHair will be traded is the Cubs think Brett Jackson is ready for the majors. Jackson strikes out a lot, but I say let him fix that in the majors. When he makes contact, good things usually happen.

Other notes-mostly rumors:
*The Cincinnati Reds may make a push for David Dejesus for their lead-off spot. I would be surprise if he’s traded, but don’t count it out. They will have to overpay as the don’t really want to trade him and their a division rival.
*There’s a very good chance Paul Maholm is traded. Like I’ve said, teams need SP and very few are them available. Maholm hasn’t been bad this year and could get a good return. There’s a very good chance the Cubs trade 3 SP this deadline (as Dempster and Garza seem likely).
*Add 2 more names to the pile of players the Cubs could trade … Reed Johnson and Jeff Baker. I’ve been saying both of them will be traded and I expect both will be gone. The White Sox could make a move for Johnson.
*It doesn’t seem likely that Darwin Barney is traded… I only see him being traded in a Garza package to the Tigers.
*Maybe Alfonso Soriano wants to be traded to the AL… since he went 4-4 today with 2 home runs, 2 doubles and 5 rbi’s. I think the Cleveland Indians and Tampa Bay Rays are the favors to land Fonzie.
*The Cubs would also like to trade Geovany Soto and Carlos Marmol, but don’t know if that’ll happen. With the Rays being a possible fit for Soto.

So in counting, the Cubs could trade … Dempster, Garza, Maholm, LaHair, Johnson, Baker, Soriano, DeJesus, Soto, Barney and Marmol. The Cubs could very well trade up 11 up to players. That would be a lot of players, but that’s very unlikely.

The FUN time begins!

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