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.