Once the winner of the Yu Darvish sweepstakes is identified, expect the losing bidders to shift quickly into trade mode.
If the Rangers fail to get Darvish, they could accelerate their talks for Athletics left-hander Gio Gonzalez.
If the Blue Jays strike out on Darvish, they could increase their pursuit of Cubs right-hander Matt Garza.
Both the Rangers and Blue Jays like Garza, but the Rangers prefer Gonzalez, who is under club control for four more seasons, major-league sources say.
Garza, who is under control for two more years, is attractive to the Jays because of the success he enjoyed in the AL East while pitching for the Rays.
The Cubs are drawing heavy interest not only in Garza, but also left-handed reliever Sean Marshall, sources say. The lack of depth in their minor-league system – and the restrictions on spending in future drafts - would be the motivation for a trade of either or both.
If the Cubs chose to rebuild in such fashion, they would be more likely to trade for Padres first baseman Anthony Rizzo than spend heavily on free-agent first baseman Prince Fielder.
Rizzo was one of the players that Cubs president Theo Epstein, during his tenure as Red Sox GM, traded to the Padres for first baseman Adrian Gonzalez.
Rival executives believe that the Padres will move Rizzo, who became expendable when the Pads acquired first baseman Yonder Alonso in the Mat Latos trade.