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I like Matt Garza, and I like him on the Chicago Cubs. He’s a quality front-half of the rotation type, even if not an ace, and we all know the Cubs could use as many effective starters as they can get.

Still, he’s only under control through the 2013 season. With the Cubs mired in a rebuild, and with Garza a valuable, short-term asset, you could understand the Cubs’ desire to get his future cleared up. Is he a trade piece? Is he an extension candidate? How does the stress reaction in his elbow, which ended his 2012 season in July, impact those choices? How does the increasingly limited free agent starting pitching market impact those choices?

Well, the thing is, there’s no great answer. At least not right now.

First, consider Garza as a trade piece.

I know everyone wants to talk about Matt Garza’s trade value in light of the James Shields/Wade Davis/Wil Myers/etc. trade, and I’ve already discussed why I don’t really see a comparison there. You can add to that a statement from ESPNBoston, representing an external take on Garza’s trade value (emphasis mine):

The Red Sox considered trading for Garza at the deadline last July. Adding Garza could help the current starters in Boston because he’s known for his solid work ethic in between starts and wouldn’t be afraid to speak his mind. However, Garza suffered a right elbow injury just before the deadline and was shut down by the Cubs in August. Chicago manager Dale Sveum said during the winter meetings that the 29-year-old right-hander is healthy and will be ready at the start of next season. The Red Sox likely could acquire Garza for a relatively minor trade as he would only be under Boston’s control for one season before he’d be eligible for free agency.

This is among the reasons you’re not likely to see a Garza trade – heck, you probably won’t even see a rumor – before Spring Training at the earliest, and, even then, it is unlikely. Other teams view Garza as a one-year injury risk. How much would you pay in trade for a guy like that? In other words, Garza is more valuable to the Cubs right now than he is to other teams in trade – and there’s no way in the world the Cubs are going to give him up for “a relatively minor trade.”

Now, consider the extension question, against the backdrop of his trade value, and the injury. Unfortunately, depending on Garza’s thoughts on his future, the Cubs might be in a really rough spot come Spring Training.

Let’s say Garza appears to be healthy, feels good, and is throwing well in the Spring. The Cubs may, at that point, want to extend Garza, which would be swell. But maybe they aren’t willing to give him a huge, open market-type deal – which would be understandable, given the injury, and given that guys generally give up some of their value when signing a long-term extension (that’s kind of the point). For his part, maybe Garza feels so good that he doesn’t want to give any kind of discount on an extension. Maybe he wants to prove that he’s fully healthy, and that 2011 (his dominant season) was the real Matt Garza. If he does that, he’d be in line for an enormous contract next Winter.

So, at that point, what do the Cubs do? If they don’t trade him before the season starts, the receiving team won’t be eligible to receive draft pick compensation should he leave them at the end of 2013. If they trade him in the Spring, though, he still won’t have thrown a regular season pitch since leaving with his elbow injury the previous July. How much trade value could he really have at that point?

What’s the best outcome here? Well, clearly, the best outcome from the Cubs’ perspective would be a discounted extension. Quality arms are getting tougher and tougher to come by, and the Cubs already have one in Garza. If he’s healthy, I have no doubt that the Cubs would – all things equal – prefer to hang onto Garza for several more seasons. Maybe that’s a good outcome for Garza, too. He gets to stay in a city for which he’s professed affection, and he gets to be with the Cubs when they finally become competitive (I mean, theoretically, right?). He also gets some measure of security, coming off an elbow injury. I don’t care how confident you are in your abilities – when your arm is your money-maker and it shows signs of trouble, it might be time to cash in for whatever you can get.

But if Garza wants five years and $100 million? That becomes a very difficult decision when the only options on the other side are (1) trade him in Spring Training for a modest return; (2) hold onto him and try to trade him at the Trade Deadline for a modest return; (3) keep him for the season, try to sign him to an extension (which may have gotten a whole lot more expensive), or receive a draft pick when he walks.

You can see why there isn’t an easy or obvious decision here.

  • ETS

    cat’s pajamas.

  • cjdubbya

    Maybe, Brett, you could use your newfound friendship to entice him to sign on for a team-friendly deal?

  • JR

    I would try to combine him with other prospect like Vogelbach and Lake to get stud prospects back. I wouldn’t want a Dempster type return like last year. That would be terrible..

    • Kevin B

      Why combine him with Lake and Vogelbach to get prospect back? That makes no sense? Vogelbach and Lake are prospects themselves and Vogelbach is a high level prospect, the kind you would want back? Heck you can trade Vogelbach alone for another high end prospect if you can match up (maybe another team needs a 1b prospect and we need a comparable pitching prospect).

  • Rich

    I like Garza and I think he will be traded. I hope Texas loves him and we can get their 3rd base prospect. ( Olt ) I think..

    you guys tell me…

  • Craig

    I think whatever Sanchez signs for should indicate what Garza is worth. I don’t see Sanchez signing a 5 year 100 million dollar deal. I think if Sanchez signs for 5 year and 75 million that would be a good comp for Garza. Both are solid #2 starters and should receive similar contracts.

    • Chad

      Give Sanchez 5/$75 or 6/$100 right now. If you put Sanchez, Garza, and Samardzija as 1-3 I like that a lot.

      • BWA

        usually when you add years the per year is cheaper. Maybe 5/75 or 6/85?

        • Cub2014

          I agree we don’t need a 3rd base prospect (sure thing) we have a whole bunch of those. We need pitching, which if price is right would include garza

      • Chad

        I know, but I’m not sure that 5/75 could get it done, it might take 6/100. Maybe only 6/85, but I doubt it right now.

        • BWA

          gotcha, I wasn’t following

    • Craig

      My point wasn’t if the Cubs should sign Sanchez or not. My thought is whatever Sanchez signs for with any team would make a good comp to put together an extension with Garza if the Cubs and Garza want to do that

      • willis

        Right but Chad is exactly right. Make that your three headed monster and this shit gets competitive much more quickly than we are expecting.

  • Rich

    My thoughts on Garza are kind of more along the lines of an extension. His work ethic and team approach on his off days are what we should be instilling into the young guys coming up. Some times you extend guys past their prime just to have that presence in the locker room.

    5 years 100 million? I don’t know but what is the cost of learning to play the game the right way? But that being said could you put a value in dollars on Craig Biggio’s value was to the Astro’s ? Or how much was Kirby Puckett worth to the Twins back in the day? I am not saying that Garza has that kind of talent but he has the personality and edge to him that we need to be the stand alone leader of what is going to be a YOUNG YOUNG club.

    I know the reverse of the argument is when you loose 100 games you don’t need a 100 million dollar player. I get it I just think that sometimes you need to look beyond the contract and the numbers to show what a guy is really worth and for any rebuilding effort leadership has got to have a price.

    • Hee Seop Chode

      Rich, you’re talking about the intangible value of having a HOFr on the team. I don’t know that Garza is in that club.

      I’d like to see a 4 year extension for something like 60. I don’t think that’s too unrealistic if Garza does in fact want to be in Chicago.

  • Chad

    I’d love to see the cubs extend him for 3 years and $40 mil. I think that is fair value for the Garza that we have seen the last 2 seasons. He can be dominate, and he can be injured. I think that would be fair to both parties and still give Matt time to find a big contract if the next 3 years go well, and won’t hurt the cubs that badly if he turns into Wood/Prior 2.0.

  • http://bleachernation.com ramy16

    If the Cubs can Garza on a modest deal and add Anibal Sanchez to the mix…weve got something to work with…but for now that’s wishful thinking! But on the other hand that would be a great Christmas Gift!

  • Justin

    Mulitple things from mlb traderumors of Hamilton going to Angels and Cubs possibly positioning themselves for a David Price deal next winter!

    • Chad

      That would be awesome. David Price would be a Free agent in 2016. He would be a great piece to the puzzle and could see giving up some pretty highly rated prospects to get him, and I would be fine with that.

      My top 3 pitching targets right now would be Kershaw, Price, and Hernandez, in that order, though I don’t ever see the Dodgers letting Kershaw get away.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        Mentioned the Price bit in the Bullets this morning – it’s not like an actual rumor. Buster was just speaking generally. Fun to talk about, but let’s not get waaaaay ahead of ourselves.

        • Chad

          I know I know, but I’ve been a cubs fan long enough that I start dreaming about next off season before this one is even wrapped up. My thoughts though are that by next year the cubs will have had another draft and deadline to pick up some good prospects. Price is the kind of Ace that everyone wants the cubs to pickup. If the cubs can use some of their really good prospects to get Price I would be ecstatic. I would love to see it this year, but I doubt it. To me getting Price for 4 or 5 prospects like what was done in the Garza deal is worth more than just signing Sanchez for 5 or 6 years. (I’d love to see both). But with 3 years under control if traded next year, I really really like that. A guy can dream.

    • Justin

      Yea I agree, it’s just exciting to think about it though. Cubs need Swisher and Ross to sign soon so they can deal Soriano. All these teams are waiting to see what the FA’s do.

  • Rizzofanclub

    If Anibal signs for 5 yr 75 million and the cubs didn’t offer 5 yr 85 million. I seriously would drive to Wrigley wait on Theo and Jed and shoot them with paintballs. After the paintballs I would wait again and throw eggs at them. On the topic Garza is not worth 5 yr 100million, I would love it if he signed a 5yr 80 million during the season.

  • Rizzofanclub

    Wow my comment looks really creepy in the recent comments section. It stops where I say shoot them….. C’mon ppl I love the cubs but it is only baseball!

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Advice: don’t post comments about shooting anyone with anything. Problem solved.

  • willis

    You keep him if he shows he is healthy. You then extend him 4 or so years at around $70 million. You then look to add one more awesome arm to that rotation and all of the sudden, you have a decent pen and a very good to great rotation.

    As shallow as the pitchign depth is in this organization, he is what we need.

  • abe

    Bret ,

    There are rumors that the angel are going after Hamilton. What do you think of a garza/trombo trade? Whould the Cubs/Angels do it? With all the money committed they need to win now..

  • Kevin

    I would definitely be interested in Sanchez at 6/90 and if you did not want to go that many years than give him 5/80. Having Sanchez/Garza/Shark would give us a good lineup, then if we ended up making a run at David Price or a true #1 we would have our pitching staff set without it costing too much. This implies that we are able to resign Garza.

  • Fastball

    Sign Sanchez now and if Gaza is healthy in ST extend him for a while. problem sol ed and at a cost effective rate.

  • Jeremy

    With this Hamilton signing going down in LA, I honestly see the Angels as a fantastic match in a Garza trade.

    1. They have a good 1-2 punch with Weaver and Wilson but they lack a solid 3. Garza would be perfect for that. A Weaver, Wilson, Garza TOR is a good one.

    2. They have quite a few young players that I think the FO would be interested in for Garza

    A deal I really like.

    Garza, Marmol and a low spec for Trumbo/Bourjos, Garret Richards, Kaleb Cowart and Nick Maronde

    I think it’s a great deal for both sides.

    • http://facebook #1cubsfan2013

      angles would never do that trade cubs would agree to the trade as soon as its offered

      • Jeremy

        Why wouldn’t they?

        It makes sense. They need another pitcher and a closer (Garza and Marmol, who they have had interest in before) and give up an OF (Likely Bourjos), a RP (who we could convert to starter), a A ball 3B and a mid rotation starter. There is nothing there that screams the Angels would never do this.

  • Nate

    Completely unrelated question, but could Anthony Rizzo for Andrew Cashner, given the directions their careers are heading, go down as the most one-sided trade in Cubs history?

    • Justin

      What about Kenny Lofton and Aramis Ramirez for low prospects? Or Larry Bowa and Ryne Sanberg for Ivan DeJesus! No idea what you are talking about, but that one is way short of one sided in franchise history

    • hansman1982

      Lou Brock

      Overall history – Ruth to the Yankees.

    • Jay

      The A-Ram for Bobby Hill is one that comes to mind (but I’m only in my mid-20s).

    • MXB

      If Rizzo has a HOF worthy career, then yeah, but IMO for now its Brock for Broglio (worked against the Cubs) and DeJesus for Bowa and Sandberg (worked for the Cubs) as the most one-sided trades .

  • JR

    I love Garza, but I would love to know more about the “bone bruise” in Garza’s elbow before even discussing extending him. Like does this type of injury ever lead to TJS? Is this injury caused by weakness in other areas in the arm? Is he going to be more vulnerable to other arm injuries because of the injuries he’s had the last 2 yrs?

    Everything i have heard about Garza’s injury has been really vague. Is that on purpose??

  • http://thecubcontrarian.blogspot.com/ Kyle

    I have a rule of thumb:

    When elbow injuries > peak seasons in recent years, don’t extend.

    The only way I see Garza coming back after this season is if he has an unusually mediocre year, they try to get pick compensation out of him, but the compensation tag drives his price down to a real bargain.

  • Kansas Cubs Fan

    Just the thought of Price,Sanchez,Garza, and Samrdzija 1-4 is ridiculous.

    It’s a long shot but WOW!

    • Kansas Cubs Fan

      Not to mention three SP’s with the letter Z in their name.

    • Serious Cubs Fan

      I really dont think that rotation is really that great. Its vey good but not dominant. Sanchez has a great war and potential, but really isn’t a dominant #2, He would be a great #3. Garza, injury concerns, good pitcher though, he’d be a great #3 if healthy. Price is a stud, #1. But if you want a dominant force rotation you need 2 #1′s. Samrdzija would be a great #4 but he still needs to refine his game to be considered even a good #2 in my book, but a lot of potential for sure

      • Kansas Cubs Fan

        From the rotation now to that, would be crazy. Sure there are tons of variables like Garza not bouncing back, Shark falling off, and well the other two guys would have to want to come here. But if somehow everything worked out, you can’t deny that you wouldn’t be ecstatic about that rotation.

        And yes this is all a dream, I know that. I’m just a little bored.

        • Serious Cubs Fan

          Haha for sure man. I would love for this rotation in 2014.

  • http://facebook #1cubsfan2013

    people who thank the cubs will get price should stop smoking crack that wont happen we would have two get rid of baez and almora maybe almora and castro plus other top 20 prospects in both of those trades its not gonna happen. I would like to have Price but not for those guys maybe shark,baez for price is the only deal i would make

    • Serious Cubs Fan

      Agreed not worth Price. That is only worth it if you have a serious WS contending team, which the cubs are no where near

    • Lou

      That’s what I ‘d call the CLASSIC OVERPAY. No one is going to give the Rays that package for Price. You may want to lay that pipe as well.

      • http://facebook #1cubsfan2013

        i do lay pipe lol. but that is what will land us price and i dont want price if thats wat they want

        • Lou

          Don’t agree. No one has that many prospects to nab him. Sorry. He going to be traded and I think that team will try to sign him to an extension. So you’re trade idea for Price–well, no. “I do lay pipe.” LOL…too funny, man.

          • http://facebook #1cubsfan2013

            i didnt mean all of those players i meant any combination of 2 good prospects or shark and a baez type of player and a couple of c- or d prospects

            • Lou

              Well, hate to say it. That I’d do. Shark and Price—sorry no comprable value there (Despite what others on this board may say).

  • ReiCow

    As time goes on, I really REALLY want the Cubs to sign Garza to an extension. He is fabulous for the Cubs and I feel he is more valuable to them than he would be to any other team. Why? Two points:

    Here are his two stat lines at Wrigley:
    Year ERA WHIP
    2011 2.46 1.12
    2012 2.12 1.11

    And away:
    Year ERA WHIP
    2011 4.56 1.46
    2012 5.37 1.23

    He owns at Wrigley. How glorious is it to have a great pitcher give the Cubs a HOME FIELD ADVANTAGE? He is able to handle the mercurial winds and weather well. I’d hate to lose those home stats – that is ace material there.

    And:

    Here are his (last) two stat lines during the day:
    2011 2.69 1.15
    2012 2.48 0.97

    And at night:
    Year ERA WHIP
    2011 3.92 1.36
    2012 5.72 1.45

    I realize there is some degeneracy in these stats, but I still find them meaningful. He has been a much better pitcher during day games (which, as we well know, the Cubs have disproportionally more of). Having an ace for day games with the Cubs’ unique scheduling is pretty awesome.

    Given that he is just 29, I think he (and Anibel Sanchez) would make a great anchor for us for the next 5 years. He isn’t someone the Cubs HAVE to flip due to his age not fitting their time frame.

    On the trade angle, I don’t see the Cubs getting value equal to his in return. His stats greatly favor pitching for the Cubs over other teams, and his one year of control isn’t that appealing (except as a “we must make the playoffs” push). Given that at Wrigley and during the day, he is an ace, I don’t see how we are going to get ace (or ace 2/3 to 3/4 of the time) material for him.

    Simply put, for the Cubs he is the cat’s pajamas, whereas for other teams, he is merely a good pitcher. The Cubs need to keep the cat’s pajama types.

    Moo.

  • brian smith

    The Cub Fans will always be disapointed as long as the Big 3 are running the show…..So just get used to it boys……Players don’t believe in Re-Builds,they believe in the Almighty Dollar and they understand that Big League Talent is what wins a Series and they Deserve it..So start boycotting the cubs untill they spend money…….Got to hit them in the Pocket book and not be a follower of people who don’t even live in Chicago and think they know th cubs……..Plus they can’t even get on the radio so they create their own little Podcast and think you want to spent time talking about the losers…….Atleast if you are gonna waste an hour listen to someone who has an ear in the FO……….LMAO

  • DarthHater

    How much of a dumb ass can you be

    You’re the expert, so you should explain it.

  • cas-castro

    Fair weather fan…..could be a white sox fan in disquise..To each his own..

  • http://None Blinda

    I think you gotta unload Garza and I think Texas is the place to do it. Also, with the missing out of Hamilton they will be looking for a power bat in their lineup. Which is where Alfonso Soriano comes into the equation.

    Garza
    Soriano
    20 mill for sori contract

    for

    Olt
    Top 15 team prospect
    and two pitching prospects.

    • Kevin B

      Blinda I agree with your thinking, Texas has needs and we have what they need.

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  • Marc

    Lol Boston trade rumors are always so ridiculously delusional. Minor trade for Matt Garza…g’luck with that….unless by minor you mean you’re giving up some top MINOR league prospects or sumthin.

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