Trades in Spring Training are rare.

They do happen, of course, but March trades tend to come late in the month, involving players who aren’t going to make their respective teams’ rosters. Trades involving big namers, however, almost never happen. The reasons for this are varied, but, primarily, it’s because teams like to have things set by Spring, so they can plan for the season. Barring a surprise injury, those plans tend to stick until at least early June.

That’s why you’re not likely to see Matt Garza, the long-rumored primary Chicago Cubs trade piece, dealt in the next few weeks. But, until he’s signed to a long-term extension or dealt, Garza’s name will continue to pop up, no matter the time of year.

So it is with recent rumors that the Detroit Tigers – one of the most-rumored suitors of Garza this Winter – are still interested in adding a starting pitcher should the right opportunity arise.

Tigers assistant GM Al Avila admitted that “[w]e’ll be looking at other pitchers in other camps throughout spring training to see if there’s anything that makes sense for us.”

Does that mean the Cubs and Tigers will put something together involving Matt Garza over the next few weeks? I kind of doubt it.

When it comes to the Tigers, I heard for most of the Winter that the Cubs would not move Garza for less than the Tigers’ top two prospects – pitcher Jacob Turner and third baseman Nick Castellanos (with the Cubs chipping in a prospect or two of their own) – and the Tigers wouldn’t even consider making a deal with that duo included. I’ve not heard of any change in that regard from either side.

The Cubs will undoubtedly continue to listen to offers for Garza, should teams be interested in making them, but the Cubs will also continue to tip toe around a long-term extension (the obvious issues there are Garza’s desire for a no-trade clause, and the number of years he’s looking for). Most pundits expect a resolution, one way or the other, by mid-season. It may not come any sooner.

Unless, of course, there’s a prominent Spring Training injury on a team with short-term playoff aspirations. It would be untoward to root for injuries, but it will be something to watch.

All of that said – about Garza, about the unlikelihood of Spring trades – the Cubs are still looking at a roster with at least six bona fide starting pitchers (Garza, Ryan Dempster, Paul Maholm, Travis Wood, Chris Volstad, and Randy Wells). One could be optioned to Iowa, or moved to the bullpen. But, given the setup, one of those rare Spring trades could actually be in the offing for the Cubs.

It just might not involve Matt Garza.

  • Steve

    Garza here’s got a job. Garza’s got prospects. He’s bona fide….

  • Richard Nose

    Brett, You ever had a message board thread about trades people fantasize about? I, for one, do a lot of drifitng off at work and would enjoy reading other peoples’ fantasies (may or may not have come out wrong).

    • Brett

      There isn’t one … yet … *nudge nudge*

      • Richard Nose

        Damnit, I can’t figure the message board out. Laziness is the more broad problem I have that leads to me drifting off at work. I set up a username but couldnt figure out how to post. I’ll work up some energy and try again later.

  • PeteG

    Do the Blue Jays still have interest? I like Drabek and the other prospect I was hearing about.

  • ty

    So many things to like about Matt and we need him this year,at last for awhile. But it is a fact that he was and is the worst fielding pitcher in baseball-only started one doubleplay in 200 innings. Poor bunter and hitter and all of this catches up with your career–listen to Greg Maddux lecture the young pitchers.

    • hardtop

      yeah, he needs to bunt a couple hours every day against game type/speed pitches.  he was absolutely terrible last year.  i really hope he worked on it this off season… and fielding off the mound… he was embarrassingly bad there last year two.   Before everyone gets all worked up, I am aware he came from the AL, which is why we gave him a pass last season… that and his outstanding pitching.  I really like Garza and i would like to see him extended ultimately, but its year two of his NL career and I hope he is focusing on being a complete ball player.

      • DocWimsey

        What will help Garza and the other Cubs with their bunting will be having the #7 and #8 hitters get on base consistently.  The Cubs were 2nd to last in team OBP from those two slots last year.

        But even so, the “best” bunting pitchers get down under 20 SH bunts a year.  Those guys all had good OBP #7 & #8 hitters in front of them, too: it is not like Livan Hernandez would suddenly get 15 SH if he were on the Cubs.  So, failed bunts stick out when they happen, but the opportunities themselves just are not common enough to strongly affect the W-L column.  Garza will do much more for winning if he focuses on keeping his groundball ratio where it was: that will have a much bigger effect on the W-L column!

        • Brian

          Hustle.. Hustle and hard work, that will help. You know, sometimes, just doing it right once in awhile would help also. It doesn’t always take a statistical formula or evaluation to get to the common, basic, grounded, simple answer. Garza stinks at bunting and hopefully he and whoever else needs to lay a bunt down, will get the job done this year.

          • DocWimsey

            Um, how is bunting “hustle”?  The SF bunt might be the most passive thing in all of sports!

            As for Garza working on on bunting, then, “meh.”  He should focus on what really wins games, i.e., not walking people and not giving up HR.  If he can work on bunting without interfering on that, then, sure, fine.  Don’t let it interfere with trying to win, however.

            • Brian

              I was being very sarcastic, in the fact you are a great proponent against the use of hustle. The point being, at least from my stand point is, doing something simple and right, no matter how small will help win. Yes, he is paid to pitch, but there are also other things that can be done, that should be done, to also aid in achieving wins.

              • DocWimsey

                Damn!  We need a sarcasm icon!

                However, bunting is very much pennies to the pounds of lots of sinkers and lots of strikes.  And while the #7 & #8 hitters continue to polish the bench with their glutei, it’s really not going to matter!

              • CubFan Paul

                Maybe his point is valid, in the same respect that you like a certain color, car, suit, what have you, in that he thinks not walking people and not giving up HRs are more important than bunting. Just because you disagree doesn’t make it wrong.

        • JR Cubs

          Obviously Garza pitching well is the most important thing for him to be really effective this year. That goes without saying…..
          BUT it could only help if he could learn to bunt better, and may help put him in a position to pick up another win or two. The Cubs margin is so small this year, that laying the sacrifice correctly when it’s called on is huge.

          • Brian

            There is no reasoning with these two. They are right, the rest of the world is wrong and should not be allowed an opinion or the right to post a thought not statistically broken down into infinite numbers. Common sense and wishes don’t belong in baseball or on this blog.

            • Cubbiecop

              Brian for what it is worth I agree with you. Pitching will always be the first and most important thing that Garza needs to be concerned about. However, he should strive to be a complete ball player and that includes fielding and hitting in the NL for pitchers. If he improves on his fielding and bunting it might transition to wins for him and the team. There are several games that are decided by one run, bunting someone into scoring position could be that difference. From what i’ve heard and seen with him I don’t think he will sit on his butt and do nothing. He has a fierce desire to win and probably knows that part of his game needs some polish from being in the AL.

  • Matt

    If the Cubs could find someone interested in Wells and would be willing to give up a young prospect for him, I think the Cubs would be foolish not to make that deal. Wells has shown he is nothing more than mediocre and probably has the least upside of any of the six competing for a spot in the rotation.

    • Cheryl

      I agree. It wouldn’t hurt if they found a young second base prospect for Wells. Their pitching is pretty well set. However, if the right deal came along they still might trade Garza so that may effect how Wells is viewed. In the upcoming draft they’ll probably focus on pitching this time. If they could get a PTBNL (from 2011) and a second base prospect for Wells I’d be all for the trade. Maybe Detroit will still be in the market for pitching beyond Garza.

  • Butch Cub

    I hope they lock up Garza long term, and maybe add a bookend through free agency next year.

  • dob2812

    Seems to me that the FO will wait to see whether or not Hamels, Cain and Greinke sign extensions (Cain doesn’t have one yet does he?). If they all disappear from the free agent list for 2013, then suddenly signing Garza long term would make more sense, no?

    • CubSouth

      I believe Cain signed an extension through 2013. I know they locked up Lincecum through 2013. I would love to have Cain, but I don’t see the Giants letting either go. And I don’t believe either wants to leave. Remember Greinke doesn’t like the big city reporters so its a very slim chance we could sign him, just because of the media we have. We do need to get one or two of the big FA SP’s though.

      • Lou

        Really, so Grienke would come to the Cubs with one of his former coaches as manager? Kind of find Grienke not coming to a Midwestern big city thing bogus. If the money’s there, he’ll come.

        • CubFan Paul

          his “Midwestern big city thing” is: social anxiety, a medical condition that’s far from bogus.

          • Doc Evans

            A very severe psychological disorder. Pair that with major depressive disorder and I am astonished at the fact that he is able to pitch on the stage as large as Major League Baseball.

            • Bric

              The depression issue is very true. Even as a highschooler in the area when he was being scouted and recruited it was being reported as a pretty big issue by the local sports talk station.

            • ty

              Right Doc! As you know the medication used for this has tolerance and there is little substitution in that case. A very risky sign for a club!

          • CubSouth

            Thanks Cubsfan Paul, it is totally not bogus. And if memory serves ne correct, the Yankees were drooling over Greinke and had money to give to him to come to N.Y., but knowing his condition, they knew there was no chance he’d go.

          • Lou

            Not saying we should diminish his social anxiety–just that we shouldn’t overblow his inability to play for a team other than the spotlight markets of Boston or NY. Both teams, of which, have extremely different playing conditions and fan bases. This is something CubsSouth is doing by comparing a signing of Grienke to NY vs the Cubs. So overblowing this issue is bogus!

  • Cliffy

    Dont count the Tigers out for a Garza trade. They are 2012 version of White Sox all-in philosphy. Owner wants to win one whie he’s still kicking.

    • DocWimsey

      The big difference is that the Tigers got pretty close last year and they should be just as good this year as they were the last half of last year.  (Only the Rangers had a better AL team at the end of the year.)  The ChiSox basically had a 0.500 team that looked prime to regress.

      Also, the Tigers have two young starters (Turner and Smyly) who could fill out the back end of the rotation.  Detroit still lives in hope of catching The Bird in a Bottle again!

    • hansman1982

      If they lose one of the top 3 pitchers they have I think Dombrowski hands Epstein a list of top-10 guys and says pick two.

      • Smitty

        I think you are spot on here Hansman.

    • Lou

      Don’t count the Rangers out either. Yeah, I know they spent a ton on Darvish. I worry about him not being gassed at the end of the season. Also, worry about Feliz’s durability over the long haul as a SP, and for that matter, Nathan contributing as their closer. I still think a deadline deal with Texas is a possibility.

  • JulioZuleta

    Interesting chart on prospect service time on MLBTR. To avoid Super Two status, Rizzo can’t be called up until the end of Aug approximately. I doubt they’ll wait that long though.

    • hansman1982

      Its actually a chart showing how to avoid arbitration after 2014. Small distinction but otherwise the Super-2 cutoff would be at 2 years 56 days for some of these guys.

      What would be interesting to see is how salaries compare to the guys who hit arb at 3.110 vs those in their 2nd year of arb at 3.120

  • Norm

    I used to be so anti-DH, but please, give me a hitter so I don’t have to sit and watch pitchers bunt any more.

    • DocWimsey

      As I get older, I tend to agree more and more with this view.

      • CubFan Paul

        me too.

  • die hard

    heres the upteenth prediction to add to those by me and everyone else on BN as to Garza. By All-Star game if he wins 10 games and the Cubs have won only 25 games, hes gone but if they have won 50 games he stays and is re-signed to extension; if he wins 5 games or less under same two scenarios, hes gone to a pennant contender and his second half \will be outstanding, like Sutcliffe did after coming over, winning almost all of his games to take his new team into the playoffs.

    • DocWimsey

      The winning teams will not be looking at Garza’s wins: they’ll be looking at his HR rate, K rate and walk rate.  That is what will tell them whether his starts will translate to wins on their team.

      (And 25 wins at the All Star Break?  Even the Astros will have more than that!)

  • edgar

    Why do teams give players the option of a trade clause?

    • DocWimsey

      It’s worth money and thus is a bargaining chip.  Zimmerman just made explicit note of this with the Nats: he’s giving the Nats a home team discount in exchange for security, and he’s not going to give the Nats that discount if they might trade him somewhere else.

      So, it’s X+Y dollars, or X dollars plus a no-trade clause: with Y being the “discount” offered in exchange for stability.

      • die hard

        speaking of overpaid 3B…I dont see the rationale for this signing

  • die hard

    why not just WHIP?

  • jim

    Will cubs get more for garza by waiting? At some point, mid-summer i think, time decay of the garza asset will set in. Will theo start his “era” by overplaying his hand?

    • ty

      Very good point!

  • Bob

    Why? Dempster doesn’t come up in any trade talks? He seems like a good candidate for a team looking for inning eating vet. I don’t know why he would be in any future plans for the cubs. I don’t know what kinda return he would bring but he prob wouldn’t mind playing for a contender also. It would open up a spot for one of these younger pitchers. I like dempster but kinda thought he would be a priority to move over Garza.

    • CubFan Paul

      Nobody wants Dempster. 1) he sucked last year and 2) his club option has him overpaid.

      He’ll be more movable in July when he only has $6M-$8M left on his deal. I would like to see mcNutt and Rusin join Samardzija, T.Wood and Volstad in the rotation after the deadline

  • daveyrosello

    I’ve said before, I wonder if the Cubs could do a Wells for Christian Colon trade with Kansas City. Would make sense for both teams–we need a young 2B with more upside than Barney, KC needs starting pitchers. Conversely, Wells is one of at least 6 starters with the Cubs, and for KC, Colon (who will be in AAA this year) is blocked by Giavotella at 2B and Escobar at SS.

    • CubsWin

      I don’t think KC would trade one of their top 10 prospects for a barely back of the end rotation guy. If the Cubs could make that trade happen, I’m sure they wouldn’t hesitate.

  • Toosh

    I like Randy Wells, but no team in baseball will trade the Cubs a legitimate prospect for him.

  • Tom

    No more freaking posts about the Matt Garza trade that’s not going to happen!

    • Brett

      To be fair, the post is: (1) the first about Garza in a very long time, (2) at most, only 50% about a Garza trade, and (3) one of dozens of posts in the last week. It’s not as though it’s all Garza trade, all the time. It’s like, some Garza trade, 1% of the time.