Simultaneously Wanting to Keep and Trade Matt Garza

It’s awkward to talk about Matt Garza as a Chicago Cub in 2012. I want conflicting things at the same time.

On the one hand, I like Garza a lot (he’s the cat’s pajamas). I think he was one of the best pitchers in baseball last year, and I love his intensity. When I look ahead to the 2012 season, I want to watch Matt Garza pitching for the Cubs.

On the other hand, I think Garza’s value is at its peak – he’s 28, is under control through 2013, and will make a reasonable $9.5 million in 2012. I also think the Cubs are not likely to be particularly competitive in 2012, and think Garza could net the Cubs an impressive return in trade. When I look ahead to the 2012 season, I want to see the Cubs trade Matt Garza for a huge return that will help the team in 2013 and beyond.

To date, I haven’t figured out how to reconcile those competing desires. For now, I guess I’m just resigned to being excited to watch Matt Garza, but also excited if the Cubs get a good return in trade for him. Maybe that’s not really all that conflicting.

But what about Garza? Does he want to be dealt? Does he want to stick in Chicago long-term? Well, you wouldn’t expect him to say anything but the latter, right?

And, indeed he did, in an interview with CSN while on his way down to Arizona for Spring Training.

“Yeah, why not?” Garza said when asked if he’d want to stay in Chicago long-term. “It’s a great organization to play for, with a lot of history, a lot of tradition and there’s great support from up top. What more can you ask for in an organization?

“Everybody who comes to Chicago knows about the city. It’s amazing. It’s so diverse. There’s so much you can teach [your kids here]. The fans are some of the greatest. They’re true diehard fans. To be a fan of a team that hasn’t won in [103] years – you can’t say [much more than that]. They’re the most loyal fans in baseball.”

Thanks, Matt. We try.

Garza also told CSN that he’s looking forward to the 2012 season, and is staying optimistic about the Cubs’ chances.

“There’s a lot of excitement and buzz,” Garza said. “There [are] a lot of hungry, hungry, hungry young guys who want to show what they can do. And like I said back in January [at the Cubs Convention], with young kids a lot of things [can] happen. It’s going to be a lot of fun to be down there and get things going.”

It’s certainly an optimistic view, but it’s also an accurate one – with a younger team, the theoretical possibility of upside surprises exists. In years past, there weren’t like to be too many surprises, given the team’s makeup of established, veteran players.

One thing is certain: the 2012 Cubs would be a lot better with Garza on the team than not on the team. Which direction is ultimately best for the franchise, however, remains open for debate.

Brett Taylor is the editor and lead writer at Bleacher Nation, and can also be found as Bleacher Nation on Twitter and on Facebook.

86 responses to “Simultaneously Wanting to Keep and Trade Matt Garza”

  1. Trent

    “Cat’s pajamas” makes me laugh every time.

  2. CubsFanatic

    Well I’m game for a trade if it makes us better prospect wise. But only proven prospects. But then again, I don’t need a WS to watch my favorite team. :)

    1. DocWimsey

      Isn’t “proven prospect” an oxymoron?

  3. Spencer

    Is Matt Garza’s trade value going to be significantly lower next season than it is this offseason? Unless he has to have TJ surgery or puts up an ERA over 5, I’d say no. We have him another year after this, so keep him this season and then talk about extending him (long term asset as Theo says) or trading him next year (again, creating long term assets). The only thing other thing that might, minutely, impact his value is if a club is really really stoked about having him under control for two years instead of one, if he was traded this offseason as opposed to next. Maybe they would trade better prospects if they got him for two years instead of one. Probably not.

    1. DocWimsey

      Yes, Garza’s value will be appreciably lower in 12 months because the other team will be getting only 1 season of control and only 1 season to convince Garza to sign an extension. Right now, Garza is an asset to a team thinking that it can compete in 2012 & 2013; next year, he is an asset to a team for 2013 but not 2014.

    2. Dane

      I think the impact is more than minute. Teams will be less willing to give up what the Cubs are asking for potentially only one year of Garza. Cutting his service time in half with the new team could cost us half of what we are asking.

      1. David

        Plus, it will be just one year of a, most likely, more expensive player. Unless he falls apart this year, he will probably be in the $12+ million range in 2013.

        1. JulioZuleta

          If he has a good start to the year and pitches like he did last year, his value could be even higher at the deadline. It’s inevitable that a few contenders will either have injuries or underperforming starters and will overpay for a guy that’s likely to be the best, or one of the best available starting pitchers.

          1. DocWimsey

            The big variable here will be how tight the races are. Last year, there really were not many close races at the deadline, and the value of a guy like Garza was not particularly high. (Remember, the Braves and Sox didn’t collapse for another month.) Really, it’s tough to predict: remember, the injuries and underperformances might drag some teams “back” to the race, or they might eliminate some teams early. And, as you note, it has to be an issue with starting pitching: a team with good pitching but poor hitting will overpay for a bat instead.

  4. duck

    How exciting! The SECOND I start following BN on the twitter machine, I get an link to a whole new article!
    I feel really mixed on Garza as well, but I lean more towards trading him. Garza is going to have a good year no matter where he is. In fact, a good year in Chicago is kind of a waste for such a good, young guy. To me this season already is what it is, and it might as well be that to its fullest extent- bring in the prospects, let Matt go be successful for a team that’ll make the playoffs this year.

    1. BetterNews

      Word is Garza is not going ANYWHERE!

      1. duck

        Ahhh yes…but whose word is it?

        1. BetterNews

          Mine!

          1. KCubsfan

            Again it may not be the best thing for the Cubs. But all you care about is what you want. Your not a Cub fan are you. LOL

  5. Ben

    I think keeping Garza is making more and more sense. It just doesn’t sound like anyone wants to deal the prospects that Garza is worth. Trading him for Turner/Castellanos would be ideal, but that’s not going to happen.

  6. RoughRiider

    I, like almost everyone else, don’t believe the Cubs will be competitive in 2012. 2013 remains to be seen. If the Cubs get better as the year progresses and it does look like they can compete in 2013, you have to ask, does it make sense to trade an established good young pitcher for prospects and maybe put your team another year or more away from a solid competitive team? If they can trade him for Major League ready players that will make the Cubs better fine but not for prospects that might be 2 years away or more. I’m hoping they extend him.

    1. Spencer

      Exactly. We have Garza for 2013 as well, so I really don’t understand the rush to trade a pitcher that is under control for two more seasons. Lots of things could happen between now and 2013 that could dramatically improve the Cubs, and having Garza as part of the team would be a big part of the potential for that success. Reevaluate after 2012, stop talking about trading him now.

      1. hansman1982

        Because the 2 years of team control works to increase his trade value as we would be trading 2 years of a pitcher and not 1.

      2. Luis Salazar

        Garza’s value will be dramatically lowered if he is traded next offseason, as opposed to this offseason. It’s not even worth discussing it’s so obvious. By all indications he will be paid over $12 mill next year in arbitration. Edwin Jackson a similiar pitcher to Garza, just got a 1 yr. 11 million dollar deal. And the Nationals didn’t have to trade good prospects to do so. Garza is probably a little better than Jackson, but why would a team give up top prospects for 1 year of Garza at a dollar amount that is roughly market value?? If they plan to trade him at all, they need to do it this year.

        1. BetterNews

          Wow! I don’t see Garzas’ value going down at all.

          1. TWC

            We know you don’t get it, kid.  We know that.

          2. Luis Salazar

            His value in 2013 will sure as hell go down compared to what it is this yr. I prefer to extend him too, because I don’t see the Cubs getting a great haul for him because he’s not cheap anymore. But if they trade him in 2013 there not getting squat..

        2. DocWimsey

          It should be obvious, but the idea of “years of control” is a new one to a lot of fans. Many fans look at trades purely in terms of talent exchanged: the idea that the nature of the contracts being exchanged is worth something in terms of run creation/prevention is left out of the thinking.

          But, really, isn’t that a corollary point of Brett’s article?

          1. Luis Salazar

            I guess your right Doc…

        3. Spencer

          Then why do teams trade for players on July 31st every year for prospects AND dollar amounts that are roughly market value? I think it’s so they can be competitive. If a team wants Garza, they are going to want him whether it’s for one year or two.

          1. DocWimsey

            A team trading near the deadline is trading for that October. However, they still have to pay more if they are getting the guy for 1.33 years instead of 0.33 years.

  7. WGNstatic

    I have waffled greatly this off season on whether I hope Garza pitches for the Cubs in 2012.

    I think the problem is this… 2013.

    The Cubs brass is clearly willing to punt on 2012, in my opinion a wise move, in which case trading Garza makes perfect sense.

    But, what about 2013? There is enough young talent and enough money available that with some development and good moves there is absolutely hope that the Cubs could be competitive as early as 2013.

    As much as I would love to see it, no team is going to trade away a prospect who they see as likely to be near Garza peer as early as 2013, which the Cubs would want to get back in return so that they could indeed be competitive in 2013.

    Hey, maybe would could loan him out for a year, get a nice low level high ceiling prospect in return. Of course there would be a “you break it you buy it” policy. ;)

    1. Beer Baron

      I don’t think trading Garza precludes them from being competetive in 2013. Next year is a relatively big year for free agent pitchers, with guys like Hammels, Greinke, and Cain possibly available. The Cubs will almost certainly be big players on one or two of these guys, with Zambrano and Dempster and maybe Garza coming off the books and needing to be replaced in the rotation. So IF they get a legit #1 starter in free agency, and even more so if they can get 2, then any prospect acquired in a Garza deal will only be asked to be a mid-to-back of the rotation kind of guy next year. For example, if they get Jacob Turner as has been rumored, its not a big stretch to say next year he could be a 3 or 4 starter on a contending team, and then in time would improve to the point of being the team’s ace. I’m not saying this is what will happen (in fact its entirely possible that none of these guys make it to free agency), but rather that in theory trading Garza and winning next year are not mutually exclusive and it actually could help them win if done right.

  8. NL_Cubs

    Garza is a win win bargaining chip for the Cubs. I believe the Cubs will hold him until July and hopefully his performance will be supportive of a better trade from a desperate team in mid-summer than they could get for him now.

    And then again, if by some anomaly the Cubs are in the hunt mid-summer, they have a helluva pitcher to compete with down the stretch and possible beyond. Win, win.

  9. Elephanthole

    I have to lean on the side of trading him rather than keep him. He is at his peak value right now. (unless hes 10-0 before the trade deadline, and with the current roster he could be 3-7 which could decrease his trade value). Whats not to like about Garza? Hes the guy on the top step cheering for his teamates whenever something good happens. I agree with both sides of your argument Brett but with his trade value for the Cubs at its peak, I’d say now is the time to get the best offer available.

  10. Matt

    As long as his numbers are decent and he’s healthy, his value should increase as we approach the trade deadline.

    It doesn’t appear anyone is going to blink now and give Theo what he wants.

    So wait until someone’s staff is in desperate need and take advantage.

  11. Kyle

    Put me firmly in the “trade ASAP” column. He’s the textbook definition of a sell high case.

    1) As the article notes, he’s got two years left in his team-control arbitration time. After that, he becomes more expensive if you can keep him at all.

    2) He was an average-ish pitcher for years before suddenly finding a new way to pitch last year that brought with it success. I’m distrustful of that long-term.

    1. DocWimsey

      I tend to agree. I realize that part of my bias in favor of Garza is still Game 7 in 2008. However, he also was the guy who pitched so poorly against the ChiSox that they managed to beat the Rays in an ALDS game. (Remember how bad the Cubs were the last month of 2008? The ChiSox were even worse!)

      The lesson? Never judge a guy on a couple of post-season games.

      That being written, then I take it that you (Kyle) do not think that Garza will keep up the high GB:FB ratio that he developed last year?

      1. Kyle

        I just don’t know. He got that GB/FB ratio by suddenly deciding to throw significantly more breaking balls (from 23% in recent years to 46%). That could put more strain on his elbow and cause an injury. That could be a short-term trick that the league catches up to in another year of scouting.

        In 2010 and 2011, there were 17 times where a pitcher threw less than 55% fastballs and posted at least a 3.5 fWAR. 15 of those pitchers declined in the following season, with an average change of -1.9.

    2. baseballet

      Kyle, I agree totally. Your 2nd point is the one that gets overlooked. I think that Cubs fans have an inflated view of Garza’s worth because Garza had his best season last year. If you look at his previous three seasons (2008 – 2010) he posted WARs of 2.9, 3.1 and 1.6 — By comparison, Dempster had better WARs over that same period: 5.2, 3.7 and 2.4

      Since Garza probably peaked last year, his trade value is correspondingly at its peak. I’m confident that Theo will sell high on Garza and get the best long term assets that the market will bear in return. That’s what a smart GM does when he’s rebuilding a team.
      I look at Garza as a #2 on a legitmate contending team. The Cubs could always sign a guy like that (if not Garza himself) later when they’re in winning mode. The most important thing right now is to convert him into long term assets. Garza is not irreplaceable. He is not Matt Holiday or Clayton Kershaw.

  12. BetterNews

    Why is Garza sucha big debate? He is the best player/pitcher on the team!

  13. Edgar

    Im all for trading him but before spring training. with our luck something might happen and he gets injured, then his value goes way down. Im pretty sure that Theo has a plan b but all us are setting our eggs on garza bringing us a big haul if it doesnt happen great we got an ace to build around.

  14. Noah

    On another note, Keith Law listed the Cubs’ as the 20th best farm system in baseball. He’s more down on the Cubs than most, but that’s understandable since he’s down on Brett Jackson. Barring a pick up of Soler or Cespedes, Law would probably rank Jackson as the Cubs’ third best prospect after Rizzo and Baez. A majority, although not all, of other publications rank Jackson number one for the Cubs. He also specifically notes that it’s not a disastrous system, and that he’s down on some of the Cubs’ top prospects more than most.

    1. DocWimsey

      KLaw has been down on most of the Cubs more prominent prospects: over the last 10 years, he’s liked Soto and Castro and a few pitchers. And, let’s face it, that’s a list of the MLB caliber prospects that the Cubs have produced!

  15. Puma0821

    I just hope Dale and his staff are very careful with him this year. Either if we are keeping him long term or using him as trade bait, it would be disastrous if he gets hurt. That’s why I would prefer to get a decent to good return now than gamble and possibly get a great return at the deadline. I know he doesn’t have an injury history but like Kerry said, ‘there’s only so many bullets in the gun’.

    1. Brian

      Can’t change the routine because of if’s. Garza needs to do the things he always has.

      1. BetterNews

        He has!

    2. Brian

      Yes, no matter what an injury to Garza would be bad and yes, the Cubs can take care of him to the best of their ability, but he could get hurt bending over to tie his own shoelaces. Right now he is a pitcher on the roster and he needs to go out and do the job he is being paid very well for when it is his turn. I personally would like him extended.

      1. Puma0821

        Well, here’s the thing though. Yes, he could get hurt bending over to tie his shoes and you cant do much about that, but you dont want him hurting any part of his arm due to careless use or over-extending him.

        1. Brian

          In the end, the Cubs shouldn’t deviate from what his normal routine has been. If not traded by opening day, he has to go out and perform his duties as if it were any other normal day. If his arm is going to fall off, it will.

  16. oswego chris

    I have been consistently in the “keep him unless you are overwhelmed” camp…even more so now…here is why

    1. Theo and Jed have already significantly improved the farm system…more prospects would be great, but in my opinion we are light years where we were at the end of last season…to trade garza I would want MLB talent…
    2. At 27-28, and entering his second season in NL, I feel Garza has more upside than downside, potentially good enough to be dominant enough to lead a team to contend.
    3. He and castro are our two best players…we must have some good MLB talent…we don’t need to be the A’s or Royals….

    feel free to rip me to shreds…

    1. Brian

      You are right. Don’t think the Cubs want to totally start over, needing to sell off what they have aquired at this time to get a guy like Garza(or better) in two to three years.

    2. Edgar

      Completely agree. If you look at both of those clubs they dont have anyone that stands out. We have Castro AND Garza. We got legit players who up to now perform consistantly enough that they separate themselves from the pack. Name the A’s best player without looking it up. The royals had Greinkie who do they got now?

    3. Puma0821

      On point 3, I say if we are going to suck anyways or least not contend, lets do it right! Might as well get a really nice draft pick, while seeing what we have for the future!

  17. rbreeze

    Unless a team approaches Theo and Jedd with a can’t miss proposal before opening day, I think Garza will be here until July.  At that time you’ll have some desperate teams looking to stay in the race and get a leg up on the other contenders.  Desperate teams make for more attractive trading partners and their offers.  Keeping Garza around until then helps the team win a few more games and keeps the interest up all around.

  18. Deer

    Trade him for 2 future starters. League will adjust to Garza, and he will underwhelm in 2012 and struggle to win 10 games IMO. Hopefully the right deal comes around before opening day.

    1. DocWimsey

      What made Garza so good last year was his hugely improved GB:FB ratio, which he did without sacrificing his K/BF or BB/BF ratios. If he had increased GB at the expense of K’s or walks, then I would be worried. However, he clearly was increasing GB’s while keeping the ball in the strike zone. It’s tough to adjust to that: you cannot hit a grounder out of the park!

  19. Karen P

    I think my biggest fear is that he’ll get a contract extension and then tank. I realize that this fear comes from a long-standing tradition of Hendry-esque contract extensions that then proved to hurt the Cubs more than they helped; Theo and Jed do not seem to be cut from the same thread.

    Anyway, I can be honest enough to admit that I don’t know what pitching prospects look like for other major league teams, but I’ll be pissed if Garza IS traded and it’s for anything other than pitching prospects. Like, super epic pissed. Nobody in the current Cubs front office seems that dumb, though.

    I think that Garza is in the same position that Marlon Byrd has been in for much of the last year: as fans we really love the passion and leadership he provides, but we also recognize the potential trade value. It’ll be interesting to see the direction the Cubs go in with these two guys moving forward.

  20. RoughRiider

    Garza is the type of player/pitcher you build around, not trade. The Cubs should try to extend him for at least 3 years (Through 2015). If they can’t get an extension done then they should talk about a trade. I understand about long term value verses short term but would you rather have a good pitcher for 2 years or a couple of prospects that may never make it under contract/control for 4 or more?

    1. Norm

      Since I dont think the Cubs compete in those 2 years, I’ll take the prospects for 6 years each

  21. Edwin

    I’d rather trade Garza now than wait till the deadline. I think there is a much better chance of Garza losing value than maintaining or gaining value. I’d also rather see Garza traded than given a long term extention. He’s a very good talent, but not an elite talent. He is 28, and has probably peaked in value. Even with his new approach, he’ll probably still regress this season. Unless the Cubs get Garza at a steal like they did with Dempster, I don’t see why they need to lock him up long term.

  22. die hard

    Heres dilemma…what if Cubs have a great first half and by All-Star break have 50 wins?….Does Theo believe in team enough to keep Garza or feel that its a fluke start playing above their collective hats and trade Garza?…what will Ricketts let him do then? will be interesting to see if Theo moves Garza now so wont have to face this issue…but then is he sending signal to Dempster, Wood and other vets that mailing it in will be ok as writing off 2012?…. cant wait for camp to open

    1. Quintz

      ….and if history tells you anything, Ryan and Kerry are just itchin’ for a reason to mail it in.

      I bet the sole reason Theo trades Garza is so they WILL suck (more) and then he can relocate them to Miami. Kerry will put up a picture of Theo in the locker room and every time they win he’ll take a piece off so they can eventually see his nude body. Soriano…..Cerrano, that didn’t happen by accident (and neither sees off speed stuff very well). “die hard” is always way ahead of the curb when it comes to this. Well played my friend.

      1. pfk

        Ryan and Kerry are two of the most professional hard working people the Cubs have. They aren’t the type to itch to mail it in.

        1. Quintz

          Sorry, sometimes my sarcasm misses (my bad). Love those guys, and would never insinuate anything resembling an insult directed towards their character.

          1. ogyu

            No need to apologize, man. I found your sarcasm to be perfectly clear.

          2. die hard

            nothing personal….strictly business like view of situation…I like them both too but they are human and because they are such fierce competitors they may ask for trades if Garza let go now…however, they would understand if team has 25 wins at All-Star break and he was let go then…just alot easier to let him go now and avoid issues resulting from team taking off and contending by mid season…if that would happen Demp and Wood would definitely demand trades

            1. Quintz

              So you’re saying that they should trade him now because if they are on pace to win 100 games at All-Star Break and then trade him (which makes sense?), then Kerry Wood and Ryan Dempster both will demand (cause that’s their style) to be traded from a team probably headed to the playoffs on the principle that the team…………….oh I give up…..I have no idea what this guy is talking about. I think I’ll stop trying.

  23. BetterNews

    Garza is NOT going anywhere! and that’s the catt’s(2) pajamas!

  24. drew

    I really feel like now is the time to trade him to get the best possible return. I just dont think there is any way he improves his stock at this point.I dont see a major regression, but I feel the only direction his stock could go is down.

    Also, take the potential prospects we are talking about getting in return, Jacob Turner, for instance. Turner is presumably going to compete for the #5 spot in Detroit. If he lights it up, you have to think hes even more untouchable. If he doesnt, hes still young and I would think his value to them wouldnt deminish.

    Thoughts?

  25. Lou

    I think Garza’s trade value has diminished and not because of last year’s performance but because of lesser interest in him than during the Winter meetings when he was first discussed with other teams. Those teams have moved on since he is not a #1 starter. Texas got Darvish, NYY Pineda and for a DH, Boston has no SP prospects and always wanted him as compensation, Detroit is willing to use Turner to round out their SP rotation, and Toronto won’t compete this year…that leaves most teams out of the picture and I don’t see that scenario changing much. I would have thought the Rockies but they obtained Guthrie, who is making almost as much this year as Garza and IMO is a lesser SP. The Royals I don’t believe, will trade for him–why would they give the prospects that took them so long to develop. SO, handicapping this, I would say there’s not many more teams left.

    1. KCubsfan

      I think the Jays will come out hot and will be hot and heavy on Garza.

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    [...] about a human being. That said, with respect to Garza specifically, I also repeatedly said that I was equally open to the idea of an extension with Garza, or a trade. (Another example: “As for the future of Garza, I remain open to either an extension or a [...]