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Matt Garza appeared on MLBN Radio this weekend and discussed a variety of topics, including his future in Chicago. At present, the Cubs and Garza are engaged in the arbitration process, in which Garza has requested a 2012 salary of $12.5 million, and the Cubs have offered $7.95 million. Among the more interesting things Garza said:

  • On the constant stream of rumors attached to his name: “I’m not a big rumor guy. If something sounds interesting, my agent might give me a call … but I haven’t gotten a call all winter. Sometimes it’s more hype than anything. I go about my days normally.” There was a report just before the Winter Meetings in December that, prior to leaving for a week-long trip to Italy, Garza’s agent warned him to be on alert, because he could come back as a member of a different team. Maybe that was the last time Garza and his agent spoke about trade possibilities. Somehow I doubt it. I credit his attitude, though – this is a guy who’s been traded twice, and is the subject of rumors every Winter.
  • On his willingness to discuss a long-term extension with the Cubs: “I would definitely be open to it. It’s more of a matter of something my agent and Jed would have to sit down and pound out. I’m more than happy where I’m at right now. I don’t mind dealing with the snow. It’s something different and I like it” An extension has always been a possibility, but we need to be honest with ourselves: Garza’s very aggressive arbitration ask suggests an extension would have to come on similarly aggressive terms. This front office – we’ve heard the mantra – pays for future performance, not past performance. Asking for $12.5 million in his third year of arbitration tells me that Garza sees himself as at least a $16/$17 million pitcher in free agency. Would the Cubs commit four or five years to Garza at that price? Hard to say.
  • On the immediate future of the Chicago Cubs: “I feel we have a great team that’s going to take the field this year and I like it. I’ve been with the youth movement and I’ve had nothing but fun with it. I’m excited to get this thing rolling and see what we’ve got.” And, of course, Garza is just 28, so it’s not as though he’s an old man on a young team – though, he could soon be one of the oldest players on the team.
  • On interacting with Theo and Jed et al: “I don’t really deal with [the front office]. I just go out and pitch. I like my pitching do the talking. I let my agent handle the business side.” I would imagine that would change in-season, but, for now, it makes sense – why would Garza be interacting with the front office directly, particularly with a potentially contentious arbitration hearing looming?
  • On his time in Chicago: “I love Chicago. I love playing the day games. I’m a morning person, so the day games are the cat’s pajamas.” Yes. He actually said “cat’s pajamas,” which may be the most awesome thing I’ve ever heard a profesional athlete say. I *must* remember to incorporate that into my lexicon going forward.
  • Mike In Southern IL

    Brett, if you say “the cat’s pajamas”, that will be…swell. :-)

  • Ian Afterbirth

    Hooray for cat’s pajamas!!!! Suddenly I don’t want Garza to ever leave!

    And yes, Ace, use Garza’s fearless example to inspire you to freely use words like “swell” (which I do on a regular basis – chicks dig it) and not worry about how corny you may sound. Corny is cool.

    • die hard

      Maybe BN can expand products by offering a BN line of pajamas, night shirts, lingerie and underwear?…Victoria Secret lookout!!!

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      I use “swell” all the time – it’s one of my favorites. And I’ll be happy to use “cat’s pajamas” – I just have to remember to use it.

  • JR 1908

    If I had to guess it would take something like Weaver’s 5 yr. 85 mill deal to extend Garza. Maybe a little less, but seems like to much imo..

    • Matt

      The problem with that JR is you are saying you are buying 3 years of free agency for 20 million per year. That is way too much for Garza. He has 2 years of arbitration, and won’t make over 25 million in those 2 years. 3 years beyond that, at most, if you are buying early shouldn’t be at more than 30-40 million. Imo.

  • Smackydoodle

    Cat’s pajamas… lol… that’s what I’m going to think of whenever he pitches.

    Garza has been a part of a Tampa team that didn’t have the overpaid superstars and still made it to the playoffs and World Series, so he’s probably not sweating it at the moment. Not saying that’ll be the Cubs case, but hey who knows.

  • Dougy D

    Ha! I am pretty sure that that is the second time I have read a Cubs player saying that they really like the day games. It is certainly not a majority, but that is 2 for the day games, while I haven’t read about anybody saying that they disliked them. It seems to me that it would give them a home field advantage with them being used to the day games and the opponents not being used to them.

  • oswego chris

    I have been steadfast in my opinion to keep him….he is our best player, he’s 28….has ace stuff and in the NL could win a ton of games….that said…I would only be amenable if the first years were a bit more club friendly…his arb request does not indicate that…but you never know…is 9, 13, 16..with a club option on the 4th year be fair? so 3 for 38….considering Lincecum(and I know he is not Lincecum is gonna get at least 17)…that might not be bad…thoughts? call me crazy…

    • JR 1908

      I think that would be pretty fair, but it seems Garza may want more. I think the Cubs should take Garza to arbitration, win (which the will), and set a precedent that they won’t be held hostage by rediculous arbitration requests by players. I know it may piss Garza off, but it could be helpful in several ways down the rd.

    • cls

      I’ve been neutral on the whole thing. If we can get a big haul for him, trade him. If we can’t, I wouldn’t mind locking a guy like that up at all. He has the talent, and seems to be a great locker room player with tons of enthusiasm. He won me over when was first seen cheering the team on when he wasn’t even pitching that day. Love the energy he brings.

      Your numbers for an offer seem pretty good.

  • die hard

    Cubs keep Garza + sign Fielder = 3 mil attendance = money for more deals later

    • KCubsfan

      I have it pretty good authority they arent signing Fielder. So get over it. They still wouldnt win more then 75 games with him.

      • Michael Vazquez

        I still think the Cubs are “in” on Fielder but on their terms (5 years). But it seeing more likely, he just won’t get 7-10 years. As for Garza, I ALWAYS loved the guy and I would be nothing but more excited that they sign him to an extenstion. Along with Cespedes and Fielder (IF Nats, Rangers or O’s can’t get him), i’ll be more happy with what Theo & Jed has done this offseason. Dumping Soriano or Byrd (love this guy but I want to see Jackson or possibly Cespedes in CF) or both would be a really nice, too.

        • Tommy

          As much love as the FO has shown when talking about Rizzo, I can’t imagine they block his move to the majors for 4-5 years by signing Prince.

          • http://bleachernation.com loyal100more

            id like to thank tommy and others that had the class to understand and try and explain my “dan vogelbach, prince fielder comparison” which was nothing more than an attempt at humor. i was shocked to see the posts that came in response yesterday after i signed out. for the record im not a racist, far from it! im a cub fan and sometimes i assume CUB fans need to laugh and smile a bit. so for all that have read my posts in the past and could easily read no harm in imy intentions, yo are wise people. for all the people that seemed to be deeply offended by what i said, i hear you too, and will be more sensative in the future. thank you BN…. GO CUBS!!!

            • Rick Vaughn

              I got a lot of entertainment yesterday out of laughing at the people who got so uptight about it. Sensitivity is for chicks, preach on brotha!

              • Bric

                I agree. It’s January and there are a lot of bored people waiting for Spring Training with too much angst and “PC”ness and little else to comment on.

              • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                You’re sexist.

                • Stinky Pete

                  (Cockney Accent)
                  Well so what? What’s wrong with being sexy?

        • ferrets_bueller

          How are people still mentioning the Cubs in relation to Fielder? Its kinda absurd.

          • http://cubbiescrib.com Luke

            As far as I can tell, the Cubs are hanging around in case Fielder decides to take a one year deal and try the free agent market again next season. That Fielder hasn’t signed yet could imply that he isn’t getting quite the offers he thought he would. If that is the case, he could opt to sign a one year deal with someone, try to have an absolute monster of a season, and go for the big contract next winter.

            Imagine what sort of offers he might get if he signs a one year deal with the Cubs, hits 55+ HR, wins the MVP, and carries the Cubs to a wild card slot. In that scenario, he might get near-Pujols money next winter (just not from the Cubs). From the Cubs perspective, he buys them time to let Rizzo develop and doesn’t really hurt the rebuild at all.

            I don’t think that’s a likely scenario, but that’s the only one I’m seeing that realistically includes the Cubs. The Brewers, according to some, are lurking in the background for the same reason. Personally, I wouldn’t be surprised if he is trying to wait out the Dodgers. If that situation clarifies quickly, he could be a Dodger. If it doesn’t, he might take that one year deal and become a Dodger next winter.

    • Boogens

      The Cubs are already at 3 million in paid attendance and have been for many, many years. Granted that the actual attendance dipped last year but with the current off-season they have had they’ll easily get there again. So how do you figure Fielder and Garza are going to push it significantly higher?

      The only big moves left this offseason are a potential Garza trade, signing one or more of the Cuban players, and possibly dumping Soriano. The Fielder boat sailed with the trade for Rizzo.

      • MoneyBoy

        Boogens – 2009 – 3.168mm, 2010 – 3.062mm, 2011 – 3.017mm, not a precipitous decline, but steady and – this I know for a fact, alarming inside the executive offices.

        2 points:  1. Don’t forget, MLB counts paid attendance, not fannies in the seats, and 2. Esp in 2011, the secondary market was both very soft and very oversold.  The weather and the poor play were contributors.

        More – The renewal rate had been strong; this year it declined significantly, so much so that the Cubs held a 2-day open house for existing and prospective STH to come and look at available seats.

        The roster is being made over.  That people can accept.   I’m not sure (given the banter here) if people would be devastated if Garza is moved.  I don’t think most of Cubdom (who actually spend their money on tickets) would be moved to buy up what’s available for Fielder.

        @Luke – You really give a convincing and alluring idea with your one-year deal.  The sticking point, as ever, is Boras.   While Pena signed for 1 yr, again, at a reduced (market?) rate, I’d be shocked if he let’s his jewel go for one year – unless to someone like the Cubs.  And, for one year, why wouldn’t the Brewers take him back?

        • npnovak

          I saw a report on MLBTR that the Brewers GM said the Brewers are already projected to go over budget…so if Fielder gets a one year deal (which probably won’t happen), it won’t be with the Brewers

          here’s the link:http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2012/01/melvin-brewers-way-over-projected-budget.html

        • http://CubbiesCrib.com Luke

          Keep in mind, I’m not predicting a one year deal for Fielder with anyone – that’s just the only scenario in which the Cubs are still involved. If it did come to that, why would he take the Cubs over the Brewers? Two reasons.

          1 – In Chicago, he’d be doing it alone. The only point to Fielder taking a one year deal is to run up his value. If he goes back to Milwaukee, critics can still say his numbers are helped by having Braun in the lineup. If he comes to the Chicago and has a huge season, he gets all the credit. If the Cubs miraculously make the playoffs, he can probably add a couple million to big contract when he gets it (from someone other than the Cubs).

          2 – Stage size. If he goes three for three with two home runs and a double in Milwaukee, he’ll get twenty seconds on SportsCenter. If he does it in Chicago, he might be the lead story. Market size turns into press coverage, and if he’s playing well press coverage could turn into dollars on the contract.

          Odds of this happening? Less than 2%. If he really wants to be a Dodger it could happen, but I think he’ll take Texas or Washington. Hopefully Texas. I’d love to see what that lineup could do with Fielder in the middle of it.

  • chris margetis

    Not to plug another site with “bleacher” in the address, but did anyone esle see the bleacherreport.com “Unknowns who’ll be Stars” article? I think half of them were already signed by the Cubs and two or three others names (Soler, etc) they are rumored to be in on. I also think a couple of the signees were from the Hendry era.

  • die hard

    Money would be freed up for Garza and Fielder if can dump Soriano and Dempster….saving 3 mil year on Soriano can go to Garza and losing Dempster’s salary can pay towards Fielder salary…also trading Soto frees up lots of money and may be worth a look if one of kids is ready to catch…that could be sleeper deal of the week

    • Boogens

      OK, I see what you’re saying but where in your original post can someone infer that by keeping Garza, signing Fielder and achieving 3 million in attendance that you also meant dumping Soriano, Dempster and Soto?

      Dumping Soriano could save $3 million annually for three years, trading Dempster could save maybe $7 million this year alone (Cubs would probably have to eat half of his $14 million salary) and dumping Soto would save $4 million this year. That’s a total 2012 savings of $14 million, not nearly enough to cover the cost of Fielder this year.

      That being said, there’s no way they’re in the Fielder sweepstakes any longer. They just traded for Rizzo and have Vogelbach waiting in the wings a few more years down the line.

  • Kyle

    My guess is Garza’s agent starts asking for something crazy like 6/120 and would eventually settle for 5/90. But that’s including his arbitration years upcoming. If you want the extension to start at with his FA years, the price goes up.

    • JR 1908

      Kyle, you could be right. That seems way to much for Garza though, and could be part of the reason he may be dealt.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      I think you’re right – and, should it play out that way, there’s very little benefit for the Cubs. Garza gets security, the Cubs get … what?

      • JR 1908

        Exactly. Garza gets payed like a clear cut ace… And the Cubs are on the hook, for a ton of dough for a #2. As good as Garza is, he is not a clear cut ace.

      • ottoCub

        For the next 5 years (or however long the contract) the Cubs get a solid and dependable #2+ pitcher, who will pitch 200 innings every year (barring injury… knock on wood). And they get a good club house guy who works hard, brings a positive attitude to work every day, and encourages younger players to follow his lead.

        Garza is the kind of pitcher a team can build a rotation around. Why shouldn’t the Cubs be that team?

        • JR 1908

          I agree with your comments Otto. All I am saying is that I don’t think Garza deserves to get paid like a Lincecum, CC, or even Weaver. He doesn’t have near the resume.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          I’m saying: what do the Cubs get by extending him now, rather than signing him as a free agent in two years? Teams don’t pay guys free agent rates when they’re buying out arbitration years. They do it only if they’re getting a discount – because they’re taking on the risk of giving a guy five guaranteed years when they otherwise could have let it go year to year (which protects them in case of injury).

          I’m not asking what the Cubs “get” in Garza – I know what they get. I think he’s great.

          • ottoCub

            Got it! :) Thanks for the clarification, Brett. It’s a good point that the Cubs can work with Garza’s salary from year to year now, so there’s no need to go longer than one year… But, if they can seal up a reasonable 5-year deal, I’m all for it. And I’m also all for a blockbuster trade that brings a handful of prospects to the Cubs. To push the “get” “got” word-play even further… The Cubs gotta get when the gettin’s good!

        • Hcs

          No! Don’t knock on Wood! His arm might fall off!

          • T Wags

            Hcs, you read my mind! haha

            I do hope they keep Garza now that we have Rizzo. Love to watch that guy pitch!

    • Matt

      Kyle if anyone would pay any player in MLB 5/90 million with 2 years of arbitration left, that person would be fired on the spot. Even Albert Pujols. You are buying 3 years of Free Agency early, while paying off two protected arbitration years. 70 million for 3 years is absolutely never going to happen for Garza, especially if they bought in now. Cut that in half and we can talk.

      • Bbmoney

        I hear what you’re saying Matt, but check what the Phillies did with Ryan Howard a couple years ago. They went 5 years $125M with 2 years left of arbitration. Amaro wasn’t fired, although many in baseball think this was one of the dumbest signings of all time for exactly the reasons you discuss. Basically paid way above market for 5 years, when they only had to even pay market for 3 of those 5 years.

        Of course winning a WS helps your job security.

        • ferrets_bueller

          Worse.  Contract.  EVERRRRRRRRRR.

          Especially when you consider that it was actually an extension- that doesn’t begin until now.  

           

          Oh….and there is a 23 million/10 million dollar option/buyout for a 6th year.  So…its really at least a 6 year, 135 million dollar deal.  Absolutely nuts.

          • Kyle

            Yeah, that’s on my very short list of worst contracts ever. And not in the “next year the guy got hurt and wasted all the money” sense. They should have known that was a terrible contract before the ink was dry.

      • Kyle

        As of right now, Garza looks lined up to get significantly more than $20 million in his final two arbitration years. $24 million looks much more reasonable.

        That would leave his final three years as 3/$66, or $22 million a year. That’s pricey, but that’s what you have to pay when you are buying a guy’s prime years on a short-term deal. Garza’s going to want a premium for those years, because now he’s going to have to be looking for his next deal at 33.

        • Matt

          There is no reason for a team who is taking the risk of buying the last two years of a players arbitration to spend that on Garza. He is not $22 million good if he were a 28 yr old free agent let alone buying two years of his time away. That is saying he is better than Fielder and as good as Pujols. He isn’t a top pitcher. Very solid but not top 10.

          • Kyle

            I agree. There’s no reason for a team to do it. I don’t expect the Cubs to do it.

            But I think Garza’s arbitration request and some of his statements have been clear indicators that he’s only interested in signing an extension on an extremely player-friendly basis.

            • Matt

              I agree. I say good luck to him, because he has no leverage. Atleast for 2 years.

  • ogyu

    Matt Garza is the bee’s knees.

  • rocky8263

    We know these guys are in it for the money but one of my favorite memories of Garza is him perched on the dugout steps waiting to leap out to congratulate his teammates for a win. In a meaningless game in a lost season it shows me this man is a genuine teammate. And we all know that type of behavior is contagious.He can show the kid’s it’s OK to love the game at the major league level. This guy is the cats pj’s.

  • Brian

    I like the rebuilding and thoughts of a great farm system, but at some point don’t you need a player, like Garza, or two, with quality now to keep things going at the big level? It seems to me, that the pace the Cubs are on, they are going to be looking for the Garza types, for a lot of money in a few years to be competitive anyway.

    • MoneyBoy

      Think Danks – 26, 1 arb year left, Sox bought it out plus 4 yrs of FA – 5yrs, $65mmm – swell deal for him.

      Garza turned 28 late November, 2 arb years left.  So the Cubs buy them out – scale the deal as follows:

      $12, $12, $14, $16, $18 – club option – $21.  That’s 6 for $93; 32 when it’s up, time for one more big feed at the trough; ain’t that the cats pajamas.

      Personally, I think Garza is far superior to Danks, but the Sox has less leverage with only one arb year and may have had to overpay to get the deal done.  The Cubs have a bit more leverage but no pressure to extend.  BTW – $12 in the first year is a “lure” of sorts to get him signed, but gee whiz, he’s such a good teammate, he’s worth it.

      • CubFan Paul

        exactly MB, Danks is almost the perfect comparison for an extension
        Danks: 2012 salary is only $500K (but theres a $7.5M signing bonus), 2013-2016 $14.25M = $65M/$13M a year

        in a extension with garza’s 2 arb years, the annual average value would definitely be under $14M a year ..so what do the Cubs get: a cheap frontline starter for 4-6yrs

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          Now that, I could be into. Problem is, Garza is going to want a no-trade clause, and my understanding is that the new guys are as strongly opposed to them as the old guy was into them.

          • chris margetis

            He should get a $1 mill per year reduction based on the fact he can’t make a throw to first.

            • chris margetis

              Or second for that matter.

          • MoneyBoy

            Brett – that’s why I went 5 with a club option – if he flames out (injury, whatever) there’s a $2-3mm buyout in the 6th year …

            As to no trade, I’d be inclined to consider giving him a limited no trade – say full no for 4 yrs. if I’m the Cubs and make the decision to extend and buy out 3 of his FA yrs.

            The Cardinals and Wainwrighthad an intriguing clause – they could buy him out after 2011 IF he was injured (which he was) but if the took the option for 2012, 2013 automatically became vested. They did.

            Wish we could get the ear of E/H&Co. to find out if clauses like that (no! not the insanity clause) would interest them.  I thought that was wildly (and wisely) creative.

            As always, the caveat – there’s no NEED to get this done.

            @CubFanPaul – I had forgotten about the signing bonus component but do remember reading about it.  Thanks.

  • CubFanBob

    More I hear about the type of player Garza is the more i hope he stays for a long while.

  • edgar

    Don’t take this toobserious but last night I heard that fielder close to sign with nationals for 8 years.

    • Michael Vazquez

      That was false. Who in the world listen to MLB Inside News on Twitter? All that person (MLB Inside News) wants is attention.

  • Karen P

    I’d be okay with the Cubs signing Garza to a long-term deal (I’m thinking 5-6 years?) but the idea of every year being at least $16 mill makes me slightly uneasy. This is probably just me being gun-shy courtesy of contracts like Soriano’s and–even to a lesser degree– Zambrano’s, but I guess we’ll see what happens. It’d really be a shame to see him go after such a consistent first season on the roster, regardless.

    And “cat’s pajamas” is the best thing ever. I look forward to it showing up in a future post. :)

  • rcleven

    Worrying about what it would take to extend Garza is a moot point. I have to believe he’s gone by the trade deadline. Garza’s Thinking I believe for asking 12.5 mm is to avoid arb to meet somewhere in the middle, say 10.5mm going into arb 4. Will be interesting to see how Cubs react. Take him to arb (sure to be gone)? Settle 50/50 (rent a player till older contracts come off books.Still gone.)? Extend now? I just don’t see it.

    • Matt

      I just have a hard time seeing Theo settle on that. Theo would pay him around 9 million, and then his trade value increases. Anything over 10 hurts the leverage the Cubs have in what they would acquire in a deal. Garza knows this, and is trying to strong arm the Cubs into making a move one way or another. Settle quick/Trade or Extension. He knows he isn’t getting what he put out there.

  • ogyu

    I fail to see what feline sleeping attire or apian leg joints have to do with hitting a baseball…

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      You, sir, clearly don’t understand sabertoothmetrics.

      • ogyu

        Well played.

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