- Bruce Levine, Chicago baseball beat reporter
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Officials from the Tampa Bay Rays and Chicago Cubs met for the second time during the Winter Meetings on Wednesday night to discuss the parameters of a trade that would send right-handed pitcher Matt Garza to Chicago for a number of the Cubs' top prospects, according to multiple sources.
Both the Milwaukee Brewers and Texas Rangers have also had meetings with Tampa about Garza, a major league source said. It appears, however, that the Cubs have the strongest bid at this point. A major league source told ESPNChicago.com that Milwaukee is talking to Carl Pavano about a three-year contract. Texas is still waiting to see what Cliff Lee is going to do.
If the Cubs were able to land Garza, he'd be the second former Ray the team acquired at the Winter Meetings. Earlier Wednesday, the team agreed to a one-year, $10-million deal with first baseman Carlos Pena.
At a news conference Wednesday, Pena was enthusiastic about the possibility of Garza joining him in Chicago.
"Matt Garza is one of those pitchers that wherever he goes is going to be an incredible asset," Pena said. "It's no secret that he is extremely talented and the sky is the limit for a guy like him. I think he's got Cy Young potential, to be honest with you. His stuff is electrifying. I think anybody would like to have a guy like that."
Garza, a 15 game winner in 2010 for the Rays, would go into the top three of the Cubs' rotation along with Carlos Zambrano and Ryan Dempster. If the Cubs can obtain another starting pitcher, they would have enough rotation depth to trade one of the team's current starters for some bullpen inventory.
The 27-year-old Garza, was 15-10 with a 3.91 ERA in 32 starts last season.
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs for ESPNChicago.com.