For better or worse, Matt Garza’s name will be included in trade rumors probably until he’s traded or until the Trade Deadline passes. (Or until he’s extended, I suppose.) As a player under contract for 2013, only, on a team that does not projected to be a playoff contender in 2013, trade rumors are simply the reality.
With that in mind, there are a couple of Garza-related bits I wanted to share.
First, a backdrop piece from MLB Trade Rumors, which looked at the key “non-moves” of 2012. Obviously, that included the lack of a midseason Garza trade:
This may have been a non-move that was forced by circumstance, rather than a conscious decision by the Cubs to stand pat. Garza was the subject of many rumors heading into last July’s trade deadline and he may well been dealt had he not suffered a stress reaction in his pitching elbow in late July, an injury that sidelined him for the last two months of the season. Garza has begun throwing again and says he will be ready for Opening Day. If he’s healthy, the trade winds will undoubtedly again swirl around Wrigley Field as Garza is just a year away from free agency.
The Cubs will get lesser value for Garza now or in July than they would’ve last year (when Garza was still controllable for a full year and two months) but one wonders if the club will look to move Garza at all. The signing of Edwin Jackson was a sign that the rebuilding Cubs may be looking to contend sooner rather than later, and if Garza is healthy and effective in early 2013, Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer could look to extend the righty. A trade would only be pursued if Garza indicates that he wouldn’t be willing to re-sign, or the Cubs could simply trade Garza at the deadline and then try to bring him back in free agency.
So far, we haven’t picked up on many – if any – indications that Garza and the Cubs are mutually agreeable to a long-term extension. Assuming Garza proves he’s healthy in Spring Training, I remain equally open to the idea of a trade or a reasonable extension, but the situation is still a difficult one for the Cubs. And, frankly, for Garza.
If the Cubs do look to deal Garza in the Spring, a popular destination (one frequently cited by Bruce Levine) could be Texas. Depending on how the rest of the offseason shakes out for the Rangers (is Lance Berkman it?), they could be looking for an upgrade somewhere come Spring Training. It could be in the rotation, and by the Spring, there tend not to be too many upper end options available in trade. In other words, I will go so far as to say that a Garza/Rangers trade in the Spring is not at all implausible.
And it looks like Rangers fans are confronting that possibility as well. I often find it interesting to see another fan base’s take on a Cubs player when trade rumors swirl, and the Dallas SB Nation site recently had a piece on the possibility of a Garza trade. Among those thoughts:
Garza made just 18 starts for the Cubs in 2012, pitching 103 and 2/3 innings, striking out 96 and walking 32, while posting a 3.91 ERA and 1.18 WHIP. Without question, Garza is a talented pitcher, and is a capable No. 2 starter in most rotations, and an excellent No. 3 starter.
Elbow injuries, however, are scary, and that’s exactly what prevented Garza from pitching in August and September, and it’s what precluded the Cubs from trading him down the stretch. Garza, though, was given a clean bill of health from doctors earlier in the offseason.
Acquiring Garza wouldn’t satisfy a need for the Rangers, but instead, it would give the Rangers depth in the rotation, and, health permitting, too many pitchers come August.
Whether or not Texas ends up being seriously interested in Garza come March remains to be seen, but given Texas’ interest in Greinke and previous interest in James Shields, it seems likely that the Rangers could very well show interest come spring.
So, again, a Spring trade here is plausible. And it also sounds like, if this piece is to be credited, Rangers fans would view a Garza acquisition in a highly favorable light. That, in and of itself, means relatively little. But it’s reflective of an attitude about Garza’s ability and attractiveness outside of our own bubble.