The rest of the baseball world was doing a bit over the last couple days, too – it wasn’t just the Cubs (though they certainly figure prominently) …

  • The suddenly very big Lukewarm Stove topic for the foreseeable future will be the Cubs’ crowded rotation, and its implications for a Matt Garza trade. I’ll have a bit more on the rotation later this morning, a couple pundits weighed in last night on Garza’s future with the Cubs, and neither sees much of one. Dave Kaplan, of his own volition, responded to a tweet by a CSN colleague about the possibility of the Cubs now extending Garza with a “no chance.” He didn’t really amplify much beyond that, only to say that he can see Garza being traded, but not extended. George Ofman similarly said the free agent pitcher signings mean that the Cubs are “simply steps closer to eventually trading Matt Garza.” When the subject of an extension was brought up, George said it wouldn’t just surprise him, it would “shock” him. So, for whatever reason, a couple insider-y types think there is absolutely no chance Garza is extended by the Cubs.
  • I’ll have many, many more thoughts on Garza as the weeks go by – and I’ve previously written at length about the very difficult decision facing the Cubs – but gut still tells me that he’s virtually impossible to trade for any meaningful value until he shows he’s healthy, at the earliest, in Spring Training. And, truth be told, teams are really loathe to make Spring Training trades. They are disruptive, and require a “perfect fit” type situation, particularly where they involve big-time players who would immediately be inserted into the rotation. The last image teams have of Garza is him holding his arm, and walking off the mound. He says he’s healthy, the Cubs say he’s healthy, and I have no reason to doubt them. But if I’m another GM, faced with the prospect of losing a top young player or two for just one year of Garza? I want a hell of a lot more evidence of health than the Cubs’ opinion or even a medical report. I want to see the guy throw. A lot. I think the crowded rotation certainly makes the Cubs’ willingness to trade Garza an increased proposition – I’m just saying that it has no impact whatsoever on other teams’ willingness to buy at a price the Cubs are willing to sell (other than the fact that it took a couple arms off the market). If the Cubs don’t trade Garza before the season opens, by the way, the receiving team cannot get a draft pick after 2013 if Garza walks. So there is a bit of a deadline on this thing. Otherwise, the Cubs keep Garza, hope he pitches well in the first half, and try to swing the best possible deal at the deadline (or try to get an extension together or receive a draft pick when he walks after the season). Just a bunch of lousy options, as far as I’m concerned. Oh what I’d give for a healthy Garza signed to a reasonable extension through 2016 …
  • It happened a couple days ago now, but the Mariners swapped Jason Vargas for Kendrys Morales from the Angels. The deal probably ends the Angels’ quest to deal an outfielder, but probably amplifies the Mariners’ interest in picking up another quality bat. Morales isn’t it for them, and they’re going to want to add an outfielder. That could mean they step up their pursuit of Michael Bourn, or it could mean they have a stronger interest in someone like David DeJesus. (Alfonso Soriano has already nixed the West Coast, save for the Dodgers.)
  • Speaking of other teams’ outfield needs, the Phillies are now playing the other side of the leverage coin – just days after reports came out that they were hot and heavy on Cody Ross and maybe even Vernon Wells, now GM Ruben Amaro is out saying that the prices on free agent outfielders are “north of where we want to be.” Well, I mean, I’m just saying … I know where you can get a quality outfielder for just $5 million per year for the next two years (if you deal a nice prospect, that is).
  • Speaking of Soriano as a trade candidate: with the rotation becoming average to above-average, and the bullpen starting to look good, are you still on board with dumping Soriano (and Carlos Marmol) for some salary savings and prospects? The offense is already going to be rough in 2013, and, without Soriano, it could be terrifying. Buuuuut, I’m still on board. I still see the rotation moves as being largely about 2014, and I think that, in the right deal, the Cubs could move Soriano without dramatically weakening the overall picture for 2013. It’s still worth pulling the trigger on the right deal.
  • Casey McGehee was already pretty much dismissed as a possible right-handed infield bat (the Cubs still need one), but now he’s very dismissed: he’s headed to Japan.
  • One of the lefty bullpen options is off the board, as Tom Gorzelanny signed a two-year, $6 million deal with the Brewers (where he might end up starting).
  • Shawn H

    I still think the Cubs are looking to turn short term assets into long term assets. The Cubs have put together a respectable and deep rotation for 2013. But barring any other additions, this team doesn’t figure to contend for a playoff spot. So, by July 31st, its likely the Cubs will be in sell mode. In a pefect world, I would like for the Cubs to extend Garza and start to build the team around a group that includes Garza, Samardzija, Jackson, Castro and Rizzo. But I think they will trade Garza, and several others, in an attempt to acquire a deeper prospect pool. Perhaps they find a player or two in those trades who add to the core. However, by continuing to add to the system, it puts them in a position to trade for a David Price without depleting their system.

  • Ben

    BTW – Kudos to the Cubs for giving Jackson a big signing bonus, and then only 11 million a year for the next 4 years. Should keep our financial flexibility down the road more open, and hopefully allow for more signings.

    They are effectively paying Jackson 19 million dollars this year….ouch. But that is the price to be paid to keep our flexibility down the road open.

  • ruby2626

    Interesting article on the Marlins pursuit of Olt and the Detroit 3B whose name I can’t spell. In another article I saw a mention how A.J. could now block Olt as DH. Seems pretty obvious that in acquiring 4 new starters and with a couple of prospects being available perhaps at mid season Garza is prime trade bait.

  • Muck

    What’s the possibility of trading Garza the deadline and then signing him back for a few years in the offseason?

  • 2much2say

    The Cubs are not banking on 2014. With Bourn and a fix at 3rd they are on the cusp for 2013.

  • Carne Harris

    I’d be surprised if we found value for Garza before the deadline. Looking at Garza’s numbers too, he fits the FO’s high GB%, low BB/9 philosophy as well or better than Jackson and Sanchez so wouldn’t be at all surprised with an extension. They trust their medical staff so much, they could even do it before the season starts to try to buy low. One last option – we could deal him at the trade deadline for prospects and still pursue him next offseason. We know he likes it here.