For a combination of reasons, the prevailing wisdom these days is that, if the Chicago Cubs trade Matt Garza, it’ll be well in advance of the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline. Garza’s value is enormous right now, and the Cubs were burned last year by an ill-time injury because they took the Garza shopping quest deep into late July. Well, that’s the narrative on trading Garza sooner rather than later, anyway.
But, as Keith Law told me and Sahadev on the BN Podcast this week, the Cubs are likely to have already decided on a price they would accept for Garza – a very high price – and will be content to sit back and wait on a team to meet that huge price. If true, the Cubs may well have to risk injury (or ineffectiveness, but I tend to think that Garza’s performance is such a known quantity at this point that only injury could truly derail his trade value) in order to get their required price. In other words, the Cubs might have to take thing much deeper into July than our hearts may prefer.
That possibility was further supported on today’s iteration of Buster Olney’s Baseball Tonight podcast, in which the eponymous Olney spoke with his colleague, Jayson Stark.
After noting that talent evaluators are telling Olney that Garza looks every bit as good as his numbers say he should look, Olney said that his sense is that the Cubs will move Garza soon. He believes the Cubs are motivated to move Garza as soon as possible so that they make sure to get some real value for him, rather than risking injury. Indeed, Olney said he would be “shocked” if Garza was still with the Cubs after the All-Star break.
But Stark quickly responded that he was hearing the opposite. Although the Cubs are ready and willing to move players at any time, in Garza’s case, Stark says the Cubs know they’ve got the best available pitcher. For that reason, “they’re willing to wait for their price” (echoing what Law said). And, according to the teams Stark has spoken to, that price is going to be significant – Stark described it as “the highest,” which he essentially described as the highest of all players – hitter or pitcher – available on the market. (I’d note only that it’s conceivable that if a – just as an example – premier non-rental player like Chase Headley came on the market, Garza would no longer have the highest asking price.)
That all said, Stark says that there is still some caution out there from inquiring teams, based on Garza’s recent injury history and his up-and-down career. Couple that with the Cubs’ asking price, and Stark thinks Garza is going to be on the market for a long while yet.
In saying so, Stark summed up what is so simultaneously wonderful and frustrating about this time of year. Olney and Stark are colleagues who work in the same area, and who each have excellent sources. They are hearing precisely opposite things about the timing of a Garza move.
What’s the truth? Well, I could say that only the Cubs know … but maybe they don’t even know. It seems logical to me that, yes, they’d like to move him as quickly as possible. But they’ll also move him only when a team meets their price. In that way, the conflicting inputs are both true, and the market will ultimately dictate how long Garza remains a Cub.