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matt garza chinAlthough he’s still in the process of building up the arm strength necessary to go on a rehab assignment after suffering a lat injury in Spring Training, Matt Garza remains on the radar for a variety of teams considering their rotational needs this season. That, according to Nick Cafardo, who says not only that Garza will garner interest once he shows he’s healthy, but also that Garza is already on some teams’ wish lists.

It should be no surprise to you that, even if the Cubs manage to hang around .500 by the time he returns to the rotation, Garza’s appearance in Chicago is going to be met with a swirl of trade rumors. He could be the team’s most valuable trade chip, despite his injuries, and they will consider their options as the July 31 Trade Deadline approaches.

The key to successfully trading Garza for value at the deadline – assuming that’s the route the Cubs choose to go – will be his health and effectiveness once he returns to the rotation. Equally critical, however, is how long he has been back in the rotation (healthy and effective). Yes, teams can watch Garza make his rehab starts, and yes, they can project his effectiveness going forward. But to obtain the kind of value the Cubs would need to move Garza, you’d have to think it would take at least 10 healthy starts in which Garza looks like the 2011 Garza.

That means, at a minimum, Garza is going to have to be full-go by the first week of June. Presently, the expectation is that he’ll return a few weeks before that, but at least there’s some buffer built in. And, knowing that they have such a short window of time in which to demonstrate Garza’s value, the Cubs will be cautious not to rush him back … but are absolutely going to want him back on the mound by June.

For his part, Garza has just as much incentive as the Cubs to get back out there soon – and for good. He’s a free agent after this season, and the longer he sits out or the more unhealthy/ineffective he looks when he returns, the worse his free agent contract will look.

Of course, all of this is set against the backdrop of an organization with minimal upper level pitching talent, and a market that makes it harder and harder to acquire guys like Garza in free agency or trade. In other words, the Cubs will have to continue to consider the possibility of extending Garza, if possible, before the Trade Deadline. If the Deadline comes and passes without a trade or an extension, the Cubs will be looking at the very real possibility of entering 2014 with no Garza and no haul of prospects, either. At best, they might net a compensatory draft pick, assuming Garza pitches well enough to merit a qualifying offer and decline it.

Ken Rosenthal actually wrote about the sticky qualifying offer issue this week with respect to Garza, and it’s worth a look. The part that I think Ken probably could have also discussed, but didn’t, is the fact that the Cubs could use the threat of a qualifying offer to coax an extension out of Garza. It isn’t a nasty thing to do, given that the Cubs aren’t going to want to lose Garza for nothing – and, indeed, might be happy to have him back in 2014 on a one-year, $14ish million deal. But, if the Cubs do make him that offer, Garza’s free agent value will be slightly depressed, as we saw this past offseason (Kyle Lohse being the extreme example). So, even from a purely financial perspective, Garza might be wise to consider a hometown discount to the Cubs on an extension, if that’s an offer they’re making him in, say, July.

  • Edwin

    As far as Garza’s trade value is concerned, isn’t it also a case where the longer it takes the Cubs to trade Garza, the less valuable he is to other teams, since he won’t be able to make as many starts for the other team?

  • JoeyCollins

    Still hoping for an extension. It’ll be interesting to see what the Cubs do.

  • gutshot5820

    Extension. It is nearly impossible to get pitchers of Garza’s ability anymore in free agency and we have him already on the Cubs roster. What is all the increased revenues for if not to keep our best players? If they trade Garza, it will mean they are not planning on contending next year or anytime soon after.

    • brickhouse

      I think they will try and trade Garza and you are right when they are not planning on contending next season. Until the extra revenue is coming from the jumbotron / more night games / new tv deal this will be a bad team unless the front office hits on some of their value deals.

    • willis

      They aren’t planning on contending anytime soon, so don’t expect moves to improve the big league team. Trading Garza, in my opinion, is crazy. But if the losing keeps up (it will) I’d look for a trade of Garza.

    • Koyie Hill Sucks

      Garza is they type of player they should be trying to aquire. If he would become and FA he would be highly coveted by the fact that he is a solid #2 in a very thin FA market. I don’t know what the point of trading a proven solid #2 is? … Gettign a prospect that hopefully pans out to be a #2 or 3 starter?

      If they trade Garza then they are looking to contend around 2017-2018 or who knows when. Which to me is unacceptable.

  • gutshot5820

    Btw, there is going to be no threat to offer Garza a qualifying offer if he doesn’t get traded by the deadline. It should be pretty much guaranteed and understood by both parties that the Cubs will give Garza a qualifying offer. That’s a gimme. Hopefully with recent injuries and the qualifying offer that Garza has to think about, both parties will come to an agreement and Garza can be a core piece of the future.

  • Jay

    There was a time when I was puzzled as to why the Cubs were so hell-bent on trading him considering the difficulties in acquiring decent starting pitching. Now that he’s turned into tissue paper, I’m less sold on him.

  • Bob Johnson

    I’m not as sold on him either. When he was a young Ray, he was very competitive and won a great deal of big games. Since he signed the big contract with the Cubs, he seems to be more of a fun loving guy and even without the injuries less competitive.

    • Edwin

      You do know that he had the season of his career as a Cub, right? Also, what big contract did he sign with the Cubs? His 1 year $10M contract this season?

    • Koyie Hill Sucks

      Last year was the first time in his career he has injury trouble. And what are you talking about being competitive? He pitched great but when you get no run support and blown saves it’s hard to get wins.

  • North Side Irish

    Carrie Muskat ‏@CarrieMuskat 2m
    #Cubs claim Cody Ransom. Gregg and Loe now in bullpen, Takahashi and Lillibridge both DFA’d

    Crazy day on the Cubs roster…Barney off DL too…

    • #1lahairfan

      I’m pumped to have lillibridge off!

      • North Side Irish

        I think I’d rather have Lillibridge coming out of the bullpen than Gregg…

        • #1lahairfan

          How about we designate Gregg and pick up Charlie Leesman.

          • Jp3

            Ha I called this yesterday that Gregg will be the setup man for marmol at some point this year which is AKA cubbie hell

    • #1lahairfan

      What do they see in Ransom? Isn’t he in his late 30s?

      • ProfessorCub

        obviously they see him as a one-year utility infielder to fill (and hopefully upgrade) the role that Lillibridge held

        • #1lahairfan

          I don’t think it’s going to be a upgrade!

          • Koyie Hill Sucks

            It’s not an upgrade it’s a lateral move and a terrible one at that, imo. Is logan watkins really not ready? if he is not there must be some journeyman out there that’s better than lillibridge and ransom…

    • demz

      wooooooooohoooooooooo

  • Chad

    I read on ESPN that David Price might be traded sooner than later. I have always hoped the cubs get him. But I’m curious if anyone thinks they would go after him in the middle of another terrible season and trade away a few good minor league pieces to get him?

    • willis

      Nothing to go after him with, and even if there was, they wouldn’t.

      • Koyie Hill Sucks

        it’s ironic that a team relying on it’s prospect to turn the team around doesn’t have enough prospects to get a top pitcher, lol…

    • Edwin

      If the Cubs think that Price is a “must have”, then they might go after him. But it would probably take at least the top 3 Cubs prospects, maybe more. With less impact talent becoming available in FA, a deal like might not actually help the Cubs get much closer to winning. They’d have a great pitching staff, but very few bats.

      At this point, I think they’re better off not overpaying, and finding more efficient ways to spend their money/prospects.

    • http://Bleachernation.com someday…2015?

      It’s all about what the Cubs would be willing to give up. They have enough to get Price but are they ready to trade two top prospects and more for one player. I think Theo and Jed are sticking to their guns and are banking on the likes of Baez, Soler, Almora, and Vizcaino + more to be the future. Sure it would exite the fan base to get an ace like Price, but it would also go against everything Theo and Jed said they want to do. In my opinion if they do make a trade for Price that would mean that Jed and Theo have the strongest conviction that the #2 pick in this draft will be a star + there will be some gems in the later rounds. I say it’s a huge long shot that the Cubs trade for either Price or Stanton but hey, who the hell knows!

      • Kyle

        I’m not sure we do have enough to get Price. There would be a lot of teams interested that could probably outbid us, especially given Soler’s contract situation.

        • Edwin

          Like the Cards. Man would that suck.

        • willis

          We don’t have near enough to offer for someone like Price. Especially close to major league ready talent. If Tampa would even listen, it’s worth dangling a package because Price is a proven commodity, but A. the cubs don’t have enough and B. I don’t think this brain trust would even consider trading any of their guys.

        • ncsujuri

          Not being a HUGe prospect wonk like many out there I may be speaking out of turn here but IMHO we have more than “enough” to get Price. Depending on which scouting expert you choose to like the most our farm system ranges anywhere from #5-#12 (Keith Law / Baseball America & Baseball Prospectus) with others in between. Would a trade for Price severely deplete those resources and seem to fly in the face of the FO’s modus operandi, yes. BUT if they were to add prospects with a Garza trade prior/simultaneous to going after Price, the impact would certainly be less severe.

          • Edwin

            Yes, but it would still be severe. The Cubs will probably get a player in the top 75-100 range for Garza, maybe 50-75 if they are lucky. To land Price, they’d probably have to give up their three current top prospects, possibly more. And if there is a team like the Rangers or Cards, who have better farm systems than the Cubs and are closer to winning now, the Cubs could easily get outbid.

    • Kyle

      One thing you have to understand is that Tampa Bay does not traffic in fair deals. Take whatever you think is a fair price for Price, double it, and that’s what they’ll be asking for. They’ll stick to that until someone gives in and massively overpays.

      • http://Bleachernation.com someday…2015?

        The Rangers may be that team. I agree Kyle, I rethought that and their are plenty of teams that could easily outbid the Cubs. Also great point on Friedman, he will get what he wants which will be a massive overpay.

      • cubchymyst

        Tampa Bay is also generally looking for some starting pitching talent back when the trade a pitcher along with a good position prospect (received Archer in the Garza trade, and Odorizzi in the Shields trade). With the Cubs are lacking starting pitching talent above A ball a trade is unlikely in my opinion.

  • Jed

    Here’s to hoping the Orioles are in contention, in need of starting pitching, Garza is pitching lights out, and the Orioles are willing to part with Bundy. Hey, i can dream.

  • JR

    “the fact that the Cubs could use the threat of a qualifying offer to coax an extension out of Garza.” This is exactly what I think they should do. Obviously, the qualifying offer is a VERY big deal unless you’re a stud. Garza is not a stud with his health concerns at this point….

  • http://www.bairsdenuni.wordpress.com BAIRSDEN

    Trading for Stanton seems much more likely given that he’s in the age range where Theo can say (like he does with Rizzo/Castro) ‘he will be entering his prime when we expect to be winning divisions.’

    I wouldn’t have any problem centering a deal around Baez & other top 15 prospects to get Giancarlo. Theo traded Nomar in the middle of a pennant race, Baez cannot be ruled out of the ‘trade bait’ category whatsoever.

  • jt

    The draft pick just may project better than anything they are likely to get at the 2013 trade deadline.
    Garza just may project to be better in 2014 than 2013. If so, he may be worth more at that trade deadline.
    Seems Garza would have the 2nd half of 2013 and the first half of 2014 to reestablish FA value for himself.
    *
    IMHO, either a one yr deal or a qualifying offer is the best way out for both The Cubs and Garza

  • Freshness21

    Also in the Cafardo piece:
    “7. Allen Webster, RHP, Red Sox — One scout who has watched Pawtucket recently said this of Webster: “I don’t think I’ll see a better pitcher in the minor leagues than Allen Webster. Throws 97-99 miles per hour with life. He has a changeup he throws for strikes, an excellent breaking pitch and slider. If Ben Cherington never makes another trade he can rest assured that the two kids he got from the Dodgers [Webster and Rubby De La Rosa] have tremendous arms. De La Rosa could likely be an excellent closer, but why not keep extending him as a starter? Who knows, he may be a 200-inning guy who throws 100 m.p.h.””

    Would have been nice get Webster for Dempster – but the Dodgers wisely wouldn’t budge for what we were offering.

  • Kramden

    A healthy Travis Wood will fetch a greater return than a questionable Matt Garza. I think it’s Travis Wood that’s ultimately traded and not Garza.

    • Bilbo161

      That could be, but wood still has a chance to put himself into the core of the team going forward. Not sure that can be said of Garza considering all the trade related history.

  • Rebuilding

    I think Wood and Villanueva have both looked good. Wood seems to have a lot more confidence this year just based on body language. I doubt we trade him given he’s only 26 and cheap

    • Bilbo161

      I agree. Our starters should not be a problem this year. It’s the offense and bullpen that are suspect. If we could just get a couple surprises from the minors, a trade or two? Maybe we could still make some noise at least?

  • ncsujuri

    I’m definitely on the extend Garza side of the fence on this one UNLESS the Cubs plan on going big and getting Price from the Rays. The prospects the Cubs would get in return for Garza would help lessen the load of what it would take to get Price from the Rays. Price & Shark would be a pretty darn good 1-2 punch at the top of the rotation, with Jackson likely in the 3 spot unless/until others are brought in and then he slides down a notch.

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