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Tuesday, January 4, 2011
Cubs, White Sox back in business

By Bruce Levine

The Chicago Cubs and Chicago White Sox are back to business as both teams' offices re-opened Tuesday after closing for the holidays.

It appears the Cubs and Texas Rangers are still the teams that have the best matchups in a trade for Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Matt Garza. At this point, the Rays are holding out for top talent from both organizations. The Rangers took a step over the weekend to protect themselves by signing former Cy Young winner Brandon Webb to a one-year contract. The Cubs also talked to Webb and brought him in for a physical before Texas signed him.

The Cubs are very interested in Garza, and they also kicked the tires on free agent left-handed pitcher Chris Capuano before the former 18-game winner with the Brewers signed a one-year contract with the New York Mets over the weekend.

Although it appears that the White Sox may be done as far as their 25-man roster, there are rumors out there that they are showing interest in former Rays closer Rafael Soriano. The Sox have already spent $123 million on their 2011 payroll and that figure is $15 million more than the franchise has ever spent on their 25-man roster.

Soriano, who made $7.275 million in 2010, had 45 saves in 48 opportunities last season and held hitters to a .163 batting average against him. If the White Sox were to add a pitcher like Soriano, that would allow them to move Chris Sale out of the bullpen and into contention for a spot in the rotation. That move itself might allow them to trade a starter and use that money toward a Soriano-like contract. Edwin Jackson will make $8.75 million in 2011, Gavin Floyd will earn $5 million as will John Danks through arbitration.

Mark Buehrle's salary in 2011 is $14 million, the last year of his deal. He has five and 10 rights, meaning he can veto any trade. With the unknown status of Jake Peavy, who will make $15 million next year, trading a starter would be a gamble for the Sox regardless of how well fortified their pen is.