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In 2011, Matt Garza emerged as a top 20 pitcher in all of baseball, and as the clear ace of the Chicago Cubs’ pitching staff.

Or did he?

That’s been the question the Cubs – and teams thinking about discussing a trade for Garza – have been asking themselves this year, after Garza has seemingly regressed. After all, in 2011, Garza’s ERA was a career best 3.32, and this year it’s just 4.06 (which would be a career worst since his 10-game rookie campaign). But has Garza really regressed all that much? His WHIP is actually a career best 1.091 right now, and his K/BB ratio is a career best 3.43. I’d go as far as to say that, if it weren’t for his unsustainably high (and unlucky) 14.8% HR/FB ratio, his numbers might look better even than last year.

In short, to me, Garza has very much been the same guy in 2012 that he was in 2011. That’s been particularly true in June, where he’s put up a 3.77 ERA and allowed just 30 base runners (only four walks) in 31 innings of work. He’s struck out 30 over that time. He’s been quite good.

So it’s no surprise that trade interest in Garza hasn’t exactly fallen off after an offseason that saw Garza among the hottest trade targets that didn’t ultimately change teams.

According to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe, no fewer than six teams have “consistently” been talking to the Cubs about Garza this year: the Braves, Tigers, Cardinals, Red Sox, Blue Jays, and Royals.

It’s an interesting list, with some names we would have expected (Braves, Tigers, Red Sox, Blue Jays), and some names we haven’t yet heard much about (Cardinals, Royals). You may recall that I reported back in January that the Royals were interested in Garza, but, after the Tigers went hog wild in picking up Prince Fielder, the Royals eased off the gas, thinking maybe the AL Central wasn’t as winnable as they’d hoped. Now that they’re just six games out (even after losing three straight), maybe they want to take a shot. And, given that Garza is under control for another season after this one, when some of the Royals’ top young players – Wil Myers and Mike Montgomery among them (no, the Cubs probably couldn’t get one of them in a deal for Garza) – will be ready to contribute.

As for the Cardinals, it makes some sense with Chris Carpenter having been out, and Jaime Garcia having arm troubles. But would the Cubs really deal with the Cardinals? And would the Cardinals really be willing to give up top dollar in prospects to the Cubs? Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer showed with the Sean Marshall trade that they’re willing to trade in-division to get the best deal, so you never know.

The Cubs will probably continue to try and work out an extension with Garza before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, but if the signs that he’ll accept a team friendly deal aren’t there, the Cubs will likely move him rather than head into the Winter not know what his future will be with the team.

  • Andrewmoore4isu

    I’d love to get a haul from the cardinals and see them fail, while the haul we get dominates.

    • cccubfan

      Careful what you wish for….the name Ernie Broglio/Lou Brock comes to mind……

    • ETS

      Shelby Miller?

      • Andy

        He has been awful this year, showed up to camp overweight and according to Goldstein every one of his pitches has lost a grade from last year.

    • Steve

      Ok…to all: Knee jerk answers please…IF TRADED:

      Dempster goes to:

      Garza goes to :

      • cccubfan

        Dempster to the Dodgers and Garza will stay put. I also think Demp will return in 2013

      • EQ76

        Dempster to the Braves

        Garza signs extension.

        • Steve

          I would be ok with a 75 for 5 with Garza.

          • ETS

            I used to think this, but I don’t know if our time table and garza’s time tables match up.

      • Grant

        Dempster to the Braves for Jair Jurrjens.

        • EQ76

          that really could happen..

          • Grant

            That’s why I posted it… :)

        • Cub Style

          Dear God, no!!!

          • Grant

            He’s having a bad year, but he’s young and has all-star potential. That’s not bad for a few months of Dempster.

            • Richard Nose

              I agree, he’s definitely had his downs, but his ups are humongous. He’s gone on a couple 3 month streaks where he’s been filthy. I think I’d take that one. Of course try to milk more out of it if they can.

        • Carew

          If the Cubs throw in some good money, think they could get a Minor as well?

          • Grant

            MLBTR is reporting that the Braves are considering dipping into funds allocated to 2013 to pick up some pitching this year, so if the Cubs made an offer that kept them from having to do so, I guess it wouldn’t be unthinkable. Probably comes down to how much money is “good money” and what the Braves think he’s worth…

  • MichiganGoat

    I used to be certain that Garza would get moved, but I think the new CBA has scared teams when it comes to trading prospects. A team can no longer rebuild through the draft by throwing money at players, so the draft is more important.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      I don’t quite agree with this.  With a good scouting organization there will be a stable flow of talent into the farm system.  In fact, the new CBA helps stabilize that flow by making very tough for anyone to outspend the rest of the league in a given draft.

      A team won’t be able to gut their entire farm system in one year with the idea fixing it the next year anymore, but  any good team should have no problems trading for a young, high quality pitcher when that is the piece they need to push them over.

      A team can only go for it when they are in a position to win, and very few teams can be absolutely certain that they will still be in a position to go for it when their Garza-like pitchers arrive from the minors.  For many of these teams, carpe diem applies.

  • TakingWrigleyToSãoPaulo

    Hoping the Cubs get some strong arms in return. Otherwise this could be a very long few years clawing our way back to relevance.

    Any insider information on the aproximate packages being thrown around as a starting point?

    • MichiganGoat

      Its a huge risk for a team to give up a top young arm, since 1-Garza is only your for 1 1/2 years and 2-great young arms always a rarity. If a trade is made I expect it to be 5-6 player mix of good potential prospects and a few bench players (like what we gave up)- so is that worth it?

      • dabynsky

        We gave up our top pitching prospect to get Garza, and give the absolute lack of impact arms in the system I would hope Theo/Jed are holding out for top pitching prospects. That might also be why Garza is still wearing a Cubs uniform at the end of the season because as you pointed out MIGoat teams are hesistant to part with those.

      • EQ76

        Worth probably a little less than we gave up I’d assume. We got Garza with 3 years of control, less years of control would probably call for a little bit smaller of a return. I’d be happy with a top pitching prospect and 2 more really good prospects.

        To get Garza, we gave up our top pitching prospect, our minor league hitter of the year, one of our top 2 catching prospects, our top SS prospect and a MLB ready 4th outfielder. I would think that at least 3 of the same caliber of players in return would be a great starting point. If teams get desperate enough, whoever adds to that could get the deal done.

        • Grant

          Garza’s a better pitcher than he was when we traded for him. He played with his mechanics a bit, and last year was the best year of his career, stats-wise. Yes, there’s a year and a half less team control, but people trading for impact players at the deadline are mainly worried about this year, not two years down the road,.

          That, and the fact that we’d be trading him at a time when his value has peaked (trade deadline with few impact starters available) suggests we could get as much as we gave, if not more.

          • EQ76

            I’m not sure he’s a better pitcher now.. maybe by just a little bit. Remember, dude was winning 15 games a year with ERA around the 4′s in the AL East. He was good last year, but not so much this year.

            • chirogerg

              this year, he has career best WHIP and BB/9

  • dabynsky

    I’m sure Theo/Jed would deal Garza to the Cards if the name Shelby Miller popped up, but the odds of that happening are pretty low despite the terrible AAA performance to date.

  • Steve

    Quick Brett, knee jerk answers:

    Dempster goes to :

    Garza goes to :

    • Leroy K.

      I am NOT Brett, obviously but this seems fun so I will say Dempster goes to Blue Jays and Garza goes to Red Sox

      • Steve

        I shouldn’t have limited that question…

        I’ll try it again…

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Dodgers, Red Sox.

      Total and complete knee-jerks. I’m not 100% Garza gets traded at all.

      • ETS

        I’m fairly certain that Garza hasn’t handled trade rumors the best this year. I would hate to put him through this again next year and if we didn’t I would be surprised if production doesn’t fall.

      • Steve

        I was going to add that, but that question was assuming they are traded.
        Too many variables to have any educated guesses as to what’s going to go down.

    • TakingWrigleyToSãoPaulo

      I´ll go:

      -Dempster: Dodgers
      -Garza: 1) Blue Jays 2) Tigers

  • Puma0821

    A Royals package would have to start with Odorrizzi and probably Lamb who is recoring from TJ.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      And then it would have to have a whole lot more …

      • rcleven

        Would love to p/u a catching prospect in KC low a ball.Ken Swab. Has a rocket for an arm and tearing up the league hitting. If you can get the kid as a throw in could be interesting.

    • Noah

      I may be wrong on this, but if Lamb is on the DL I don’t believe he can be traded.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        I don’t think it’s forbidden, but I seem to recall that the protocol for trading minor leaguers on the DL is to use them as a PTBNL.

  • Rylee

    Wil Myers would look pretty darn good in a Cubs uni.

    • Puma0821

      I’d guess he’s off limits, but yes he would!

    • CubFanInNebraska

      I’ve seen Wil Myers play here a few times in Omaha, including a game in which he ripped a 2-run shot off Chris Volstad and the I-Cubs. That guy is a monster. As everyone has pointed out, he’s almost undoubtedly untouchable, I’d love to see that guy in a Cubs uniform!

  • James

    Wil Meyers isn’t going anywhere….esp for Matt Garza.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Kinda feels like the post says something similar to that…

      (Just a hard time being given…)

  • http://bleachernation.com #1lahairfan

    True

  • rcleven

    Garza has not regressed. Watching last nights game he really gave up two(due to a scorers gift) earned runs. The only mistakes he made was walking the lead off hitter in the first and and the home run ball to Kubel. This team D has been terrible behind him.
    Theo in his 9 years with Boston never once made a trade with the Yankees so I don’t see him helping a team in NLC.
    Would really love(not that it will happen) to get into that KC farm system.

    • Cedlandrum

      You may be right but he has already traded in the Central.

      • rcleven

        Don’t see Marshall as a major trade.
        Cinci is not the hated Cards.
        Rule #1 is do nothing to help your competition beat you. Thats why I see Garza going to the AL or NLW.

        • Edwin

          Technically, the Cubs compete with all MLB teams. This would imply that the Cubs should never trade with anyone ever.

        • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

          Rule #1 should be ignored. If STL offers the best deal, you do it.

    • Featherstone

      He just traded Marshall to the Reds not that long ago. Theo will trade to anyone regardless of division if its the best deal.

      • Spriggs

        i think the cardinals are a great fit for a Garza trade. They probably won’t get Miller or Martinez, so how about Taveras, Wong, and Jenkins?

  • Cub Gone Wild

    I think we should re-sign Garza and Dempster if possible to team friendly deals or as close to team friendly deals as possible. At least we can have a decent starting rotation. We need a 3B and that has to be a focus this off season to get a good one who is proven. We need a bullpen and should go the route the Rays took to build a pen out of free agents that were affordable and efficient. They seem to do it every year. How far off are we once Rizzo gets called up and settles in? 3b, bullpen and another good starter. Rebuilding doesn’t have to be all about selling off our best pitchers to obtain unproven prospects. We signed a lot of young arms in this draft and with Soler and Almora we could be in worse shape. I think we need to vet out our current AAA and ML pitching outside the rotation and cut bait on guys who just aren’t going to get it done. But do that this off season.

    • Grant

      Our OF is pretty lousy, too, but that’s being addressed in the minors.

    • willis

      I don’t know that we need a bullpen. I think what will be the bullpen is already in the system. Jay Jackson, McNutt, Cabrera, Weathers…all guys that can be effective relievers. The rotation is much more of an issue. Shark is falling apart, who knows what may happen with Garza, Demp is gone and Maholm straight sucks. Travis Wood could be an ok 4/5 starter but still has lots to prove.

      I think with the arms in the system, there is not many power starter types, but plenty of talent that could be molded into a solid bullpen, and soon.

      • ETS

        Relief pitching is relatively cheap if you have all other aspects in place (see 2011 Cardinals).

      • rcleven

        Not to worried about Shark. He has the pitches to be an effective MLB pitcher. He needs to learn how to use the pitches he has.
        That will come maturity.

  • Larry

    The starting rotation for the Cubs could be downright unwatchable, by Aug. Dempster will be gone, Garza could be (but I doubt it), Maholm is struggling, and Shark seems to be wearing down. Unless someone steps up, or we are able to get some close to ready arms back through trade, the second half of the season could get even uglier than it has been of late.

  • Deez

    If someone’s willing to overpay for Garza, he has to go!
    Look at what the Rockies got for Ubaldo Jiménez last year!
    PLUS…
    The additional year of control makes him a high commodity.
    (The next team can move him in the offseason or during the trade deadline)
    Management are just weighing deals.
    Same goes for Dempster.
    They are in the wind.
    GOOD LUCK FELLAS!

  • Cub Gone Wild

    I think Wood is developing himself into an asset. He is growing in confidence and is becoming more effective with each start. He is emerging. With this offense no pitcher is going to have numbers or feel like obtaining a win is all that possible when they make a start. Yet they still have been doing fairly well. I think Shark is reaching a point where he has thrown too much this past off season and he hasn’t been controlled on his pitch counts. He is getting under his fastball at about 75 pitches in his starts now. That means fatigue is setting in. His mph on the radar gun doesn’t change much but when you get tired the ball comes up and belt high 94 mph fastballs are not hard to hit. Shark may need to skip a start or two coming up on the allstar break just to give him a rest so he has something in the tank for the 2nd half and then I would be monitoring him very closely. This is a lost season but we don’t need to lose an arm out of stupidity. Just Saying.

  • Richard Nose

    Wil Myers arouses me, especially being in Omaha where he’s crushing right now. Garza and B Jax for Wil Myers and Odorrizzi? Yums

    • Andrew

      Any deal for Myers definitely would have to involve Castro

      • Cub Style

        That’s hilarious. What comedy clubs are you going to be at in the city this week?

  • Cub Gone Wild

    Dempster should be re-signed and slotted to the no. 4 starter position for the next couple of years. He still has enough in the tank to be quite effective going up against no. 4 starters for the next 2 or 3 years. Wood is my no. 5 guy and Garza a no. 2. What I would do is slot my starters Garza,Shark, Dempster against apposing teams 3,4 and 5 starters so we can get some wins against less effective pitching. I would put Wood in the 2 hole because he seems to rise to the challenge a bit. It doesn’t really matter as we are not winning games against opposing teams no. 1 and 2 starters anyway. Put Maholm and Wood against them. I like my chances of winning some games with better match ups with my better starters. Never understood why on a team like this management felt like it needed to match its best starters against the opponents best starters. Why not win the games you can win and be smart about things.

    • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

      Do you really believe that #4 starters match up with other teams #4 starters? Or #1′s match up with other teams #1′s?
      Doesn’t work out that way.

  • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

    % of people that will be disappointed with the return for Dempster and/or Garza?

    I’m going to go with 75%.

    • Andrew

      Why would I be disappointed?!?! We’re definitely getting AT LEAST Jacob Turner, Nick Castellanos, Drew Smyly, Prince Fielder +200 million, and the next ten tigers first round draft picks for Garza. That is not a trade I will be disappointed in

    • Grant

      I think you’re selling Theo and Jed short. If the return is underwhelming, we’ll be keeping them, but considering this is not only a seller’s market, but one the Cubs have somewhat cornered (assuming Greinke or Hamels don’t hit the trading block), I think the return could be quite good…

      • Edwin

        I just don’t think that teams will overpay for Garza just because it is a “seller’s” market, at least not enough to make a huge difference. Garza is only worth so much, no matter how much a team gives up for him.

        • Grant

          Isn’t that kinda the definition of a seller’s market – that a buyer is forced to overpay due to a lack of supply or other seller-benefiting circumstances?

          Even in a regular market, Garza’s got some good value. Right now, that value keeps rising…

      • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

        I’m not underselling Theo and Jed. I think they’ll get the best deal possible. But that deal won’t be what most of the fan base thinks it will be.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          Out of curiosity, what do you think – in general terms (top 100 prospect, top 10 organizational prospect, filler, etc.) – the return will/would/should be on each?

          • Mike S

            Is Garza worth 2 Top 100′s? That’s usually teams #2 and #3 prospects…

            • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

              In this market? I think he is, especially if they’re in the 50 to 100 range.

          • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

            maybe a Top 75-100 prospect for Dempster, but I wouldn’t doubt its someone out of the Top 100 and a guy I’ve never heard of.
            For Garza, no better than a top 25 guy; but two in the 25-75 range, and a lottery ticket.
            -
            If they do better than that, I’ll be pretty happy.
            Prospect rankings have already changed though, so if that best guy for Garza is Manny Banuelos (Pre season #29) I wouldn’t be thrilled with that either. And i wouldn’t include Wil Myers in the 25-75 range even though he was pre season #28.

    • JoeyCollins

      I think it will more likely split between the two with a good number of people satisfied or happy with the return on dempster. I see the cubs picking up most of his tab to up the return and he’s gonna go to a team whos desperate (the braves) for a short fix. Plus i dont think most fans expect a lot for Demp compared to Garza. Garza on the other hand is being hyped up as able to bring a haul (the years of control wont bring as much extra that some fans hope). So i see fans being dissapointed with that trade.

  • notcubbiewubbie

    the ghost of jim hendry will never leave us

  • Steve

    Gosh Brett, the new “landscape”, it seems, has everyone spooked.

    I posed the question to the effect, what would we give up for Garza / Demp, if we were in the hunt and needing a #1-#3 starter.

    I say:

    Garza = 1 top 5, 1 top ten, and1 top 20.

    Demp = 1 top 10,1 top 20 and a “intrigue” guy.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      I don’t think those are unrealistic, though I’d hope the Garza return would be slightly better (depending on the system).

      • Steve

        “The Cubs are willing to eat a majority of Dempster’s salary to obtain better prospects.”

        Does this even carry any weight with the new CBA in effect? If we gave Solar 30 million pretty much sight unseen, I am thinking probably no.

        Has actual money lost all its value in MLB????

        Oh what a world, what a world!!!!

    • rcleven

      Garza could bring a haul. For Demp if you got the top 10 guy alone would be more reasonable.
      Who knows tho.

  • True(ly) Blue

    I’m not sure that trading a relatively young, proven ML starting pitcher (Garza) for any 2 or 3 minor league players, especially pitchers is a good bet. I keep reading that only 1 in 4 highly rated minor leaguers make the bigs. That means that there is a real chance that the Cubs trade Garza and in 2 or 3 years have no big league players as a result. Give me a break! Keep your best younger players and trade the 2nd line and/or older players, IE: Dempster, Baker, LaHair, Soriono,Soto, et al. PS. I love Dempster as a person and as player but if we could get a couple of decent prospects for him at this stage of his career it would be a bonus.
    It seems to me that the trade hoopla has overcome good sense in our fans. Hopefully Theo has more savvy.

  • http://bleachernation.com lou brock lives

    Garza should be traded – not signed by Cubs to long term deal. He is too emotional & thus his game suffers in areas that can determine outcomes of games. He cannot field his position at all & belongs in the AL because he cannot hit a lick.
    Also something not being talked about in all the reports I’ve read, but I happen to know is true – his teammates do not like him very much. There is a reason he has already been traded twice & now his third team is looking to deal him.
    I would suggest a trade to Boston for Matt Barnes(P) & Travis Shaw 3B with a throw in of Lavarnway the catcher from Yale that Theo drafted a few years ago.

  • Grige

    Dempster to the whitesox for Jose Quintana.

  • http://bleachernation.com #1lahairfan

    Not the white sox unless they are willing to give up Addison reed.

  • Don

    So what happened to the rumor of Garza and Soriano to Tigers for Turner and
    Castellanos?

  • http://Bleachernation.com Ramy16

    If we make any trades with Atlanta I hope Theo includes Matin Prado!

  • mooks

    Maybe not as popular of an option but might get a better return from Tigers if you trade Garza for Porcello and prospects. Porcello is like 23 or 24 but I think he will be a good pitcher still. Taking him and his salary might net a better overall return in the level of prospects that would come along. He has one of the worst Defensive teams behind him and he is a groundball pitcher. Just a thought.

    • Toby

      I read that Tigers might want to trade Porcello because of the same reason you mentioned also. Porcello might be someone that Cubs might want a package to center around. I could see Garza for Porcello, Turner, and a couple top 20 prospects.

  • gutshot5820

    Brett. I was going to say you made it big time when you get outsiders trolling their websites on your forum and then i realized they are one of your sponsors. Awesome, I’ll ask one of my lady friends to take a peek at their site.

  • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

    Nah. Just spammers.

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