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.