Chicago Cubs 2016 NL Central Championship Gear

Earlier this week, there were various reports that teams, including the Red Sox and Yankees, were interested in Chicago Cubs starter Matt Garza. Whether the Cubs would actually, ultimately trade Garza was in doubt, but the fact that there was outside interest was legit.

But now at least a couple writers are taking the opportunity to squash any Garza trade rumors.

First, Bruce Levine, in his weekly chat at ESPN Chicago, stated flatly that “[t]he Cubs will not trade Garza,” offering the amount that the Cubs gave up to get him as the reason Garza won’t be traded. (Um, what? A stark counterexample: the Phillies gave up a ton to get Cliff Lee in mid-2009 and then turned around and traded him five months later. It happens.)

Then, CSN’s Patrick Mooney went even further, claiming that “[t]here is absolutely nothing to the speculation that the Cubs could move Matt Garza.”

I think both Levine and Mooney are playing the low risk prediction game, and are doing a disservice to completeness and accuracy in the process.

Saying Matt Garza unequivocally will not be traded is a pretty low risk proposition. The chances that the Cubs are sufficiently steamrolled on a trade offer to actually move him are small. Very small.

So, you say “Garza will not be traded,” and, when July 31 rolls around, you’re proved right. Hooray! Genius!

And, what do you know? If you ask the Cubs’ front office, they’ll give you a quote to back up your guess! “We never had any intention of trading Matt Garza, and any speculation to the contrary was made up.” Hooray! Double genius!

But, even if plays out that way, allow me to submit that you were wrong all along.

There is a fundamental difference between saying “the Cubs will not trade Garza,” or “there is absolutely nothing to the speculation that the Cubs could move Matt Garza,” and saying “it’s extremely unlikely that Garza will be traded, but of course the Cubs will listen if a team wants to try and bowl them over with an offer.” The former two are lazy. The latter is accurate.

Of course there’s *something* to the Garza trade speculation.

The reason there is something to the Garza trade speculation? Other teams want him. And as long as that remains true, it remains theoretically possible that he could be traded – especially when those other teams have contacted, or are considering contacting, the Cubs. An MLB front office source confirms to me that it’s true, and it sounds like Phil Rogers and Nick Cafardo have heard the same.

The Chicago Cubs’ organization has proved inept at times over the past decade. But even I am not willing to suggest – as other writers are apparently willing to do – that the Cubs would not at least listen to offers for Garza. The trade market for starting pitchers is particularly thin this year, and Garza would be quite a haul in even a deep market. The offers could be significant.

Let me be clear: I’m not advocating that the Cubs trade Matt Garza. I do think he has number one stuff, and I do think trading him – even for a couple of incredible pitching prospects – is more likely to create another hole than to fill two. But I am advocating that the Cubs listen to all offers, something I believe they are absolutely doing.

And spare me the quotes from management about how much they love Matt Garza and how they don’t intend to trade him. First of all, those quotes are almost always parseable down to tiny bits that actually suggest the opposite. Second, do you really think the Cubs are going to say anything else? They know a trade isn’t likely. They know Garza is likely to be a fixture in the rotation for years.

So, allow me to be the first to tell it to you straight, because, frankly, I’m pretty miffed:

The Cubs do not affirmatively want to trade Matt Garza. The Cubs are highly, highly unlikely to trade Matt Garza. But other teams are calling, and the Cubs are listening.

As they should be.

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