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matt garza cubsThe Matt Garza trade story simply didn’t have enough intrigue … or obsessive coverage.

According to simultaneous reports from Jon Heyman and Jesse Rogers, the Chicago Cubs and Matt Garza’s marriage may not end this month. Instead, according to the reports, the possibility of an extension for the impending free agent remains a possibility. The reports are relatively thin on details, offering mostly that the Cubs have kinda-sorta-maybe re-approached Garza with extension ideas.

Heyman, you’ll recall, reported two weeks ago that the two sides had ruled out the possibility of an extension, setting the stage for this here Obsessive Watch. Most believed that the Cubs and Garza haven’t seriously entertained the possibility of an extension in a very long time (Heyman says it hasn’t been since Spring Training 2012). Apparently there has been a reversal by the Cubs and/or Garza.

Why, you ask, after months of no extension talks (reportedly and presumably) would the two sides suddenly be discussing an extension? Well, the cynical response is that they aren’t really. The Cubs, you’d say, have just re-engaged Garza so that they can tell other teams, “yeah, we’re talking about an extension … better pony up if you want him!” You’d further point out that the fact that Jon Heyman and Jesse Rogers simultaneously reported these talks “according to a source” sure smells like a controlled leak for leverage.

Then again, you cynical rascal, I could counter that there is a legitimate explanation for renewed extension talks. The Cubs, having shopped Garza for a couple weeks now, have a very good sense of his value to other teams. They could then use that value – perhaps it isn’t as high as they’d like it to be – to tell Garza that, “hey, Matt, you know we love you. But the market out there for you simply isn’t what we hoped it would be. We may not be able to trade you, in which case, we’re going to have to make you a qualifying offer after the season. If you don’t take it, you saw what happened last Winter – your contract will probably be depressed dramatically. Sorry about that. But we’d still love to sign you to a reasonable extension if you’re interested.”

Something like that. The Cubs could also point to the lack of trade interest – again, this is all hypothetical, because I actually expect there’s a ton of trade interest – as a sign that the free agent market for Garza won’t be as robust as he hopes. Maybe he won’t get the huge contract he expects, and maybe he should consider a reasonable three or four-year deal with the Cubs right now.

In the end, do I buy that explanation? Eh. It’s around the same level of plausibility as a mere smokescreen. Keeping Garza on a team-friendly extension has always been the best possible outcome here. He’s 29, effective, and now looks healthy. The Cubs have a lack of upper-level pitching depth, and are going to need a whole lot if they hope to be improved in 2014.

But, for Garza’s part, you can understand why he’d want to test the market. He’s shaping up to be not only the best pitcher on the market, but one of the pre-eminent free agents. He could command huge dollars if he keeps pitching like he has been.

In the end, I suspect that we’ve got a combination of things going on here. The Cubs know they’re probably going to have to trade Garza, but they legitimately wanted to make one last approach on a possible extension. If they can get a deal that makes sense done with Garza, then great, they’ll do it. If not, then this one last approach also helps slightly with their various trade talks.

UPDATE: Adding legitimacy to the extension talks – or to the cynical leverage-building theory, depending on your bent – Ken Rosenthal now also reports that a Cubs source tells him extension talks have occurred. He says it’s due to the Cubs now being more comfortable with Garza’s health. Again, that could just be more leverage-building by the Cubs (“hey, worried teams: we’re so confident in Garza’s health that we want to extend him!”), or it could be a legitimate reason to re-assess.

  • Justin

    The biggest hurdle against Garza is teams don’t want to get fleeced for a rental. The Cubs and Garza’s agent should work out a deal where Garza’s agent will negotiate with 3 or 4 teams. If the team that trades for Garza can sign him to an extension it would help the return for Garza dramatically. Garza needs to realize that if he just waits until free agency the Cubs can put the Qualifying offer on him and kill his value. There are lots of things the Cubs could be doing to up the price for Garza. Just a thought..

  • Drew

    Could Garza like what is happening with the organization and now want to be a part of the future? Maybe he wants to be a part of the ongoing resurrection of this great organization.

  • Josh

    Heres a thought also. Maybe their trying to resign him knowing there’s a big deal in place for prospects including shark! You never know

    • Justin

      That’s funny I just said that.. Ha. Anythings possible.

  • DReese

    Keep Garza!

  • Justin

    Can you imagine what the trade value would be on Samardzija if the Cubs inked Garza to an extension? The Cubs literally might be able to get 4 top 10 prospects for him. Plus I have a feeling he is going to be VERY expensive when he is up for his extension..

    • cubzfan

      This is just what I was thinking. Maybe they sign Garza to an extension because, after talking to several clubs, they’ve realized that they could get a couple players they really like for Samardzija, and they’d rather have those players plus Garza under contract rather than the players they could get for Garza plus Samardzija over the same 4 years.

      • Bric

        Samardzija and Vitters to the Tigers for Porcello, Castellanos, and a low A pitcher. Garza, Gregg, and Solar to the Orioles for Gausman and a low A pitcher.

    • YourResidentJag

      Yep, I concur. Look at what where speculating and I think some of its correct. Shark for one of Bradley or Skaggs to start. Regardless, Garza can’t get that kind of deal. Yes, this is probably leverage, but still Shark is going to be awfully expensive, on the other side of 30 when the extension is most likely done, and like all players, an injury risk for big money.

    • On The Farm

      The question is how much is enough for Shark? I am thinking SD, AZ, and Boston have the best quantity of talent available to get him, and still be in a position to contend.

  • Carne Harris

    I think the FO’s using the story as leverage against other teams. I don’t think that makes me any more a cynic than Occam. I think it’s probably more cynical to believe the FO would strong arm Garza with a veiled qualifying offer threat, when there’s zero to no chance they couldn’t get more than that back by trading him.

    We know he likes playing in Chicago, so I still hope we can trade him for a crapstack of good prospects AND re-sign him to a semi-team friendly deal this offseason. As his stock rises, the first part of that becomes more and more likely while the second part becomes less and less so.

  • cubs2003

    I sooo wish that Castro and Rizzo took a step forward this year. I would be so positive about this team going forward. Theo and Jed have proven they are good at getting useful players on good deals, but without the cornerstones it doesn’t really matter.

    • Werner

      I agree but the year isn’t over. Castro seems to have ever-so-slightly turned a corner, bat-wise.

  • Lou Brown

    I would love it if they could extend him. Shark, Garza, and Wood would be a solid core to the rotation for years. This 4/60 would get it done? We already threw that much at Jackson.

  • http://deepcenterfield.blogspot.com Jason Powers

    Cubs do themselves no harm by entertaining the extension, within reason. It’s good talk – and suitors, looking to firm up a pennant run, will increase their offers accordingly, we’d hope.

    As I looked at his recent Pitch F/X, he’s as good as pre-injury, stuff wise. All you can ask for.

    Can the Cubs really put a quality team on the field next season? Depends on those AA-AAA prospects growth potential/learning curves. With 2-3 frontline starters, with Garza, that would not be a bad place to be. Still need a bullpen, makeover #2.

    But will see how the market reacts to the extension fodder.

  • sdcoddi

    I would think this is a sign that the Cubs have an offer that they find acceptable and are trying one more time to sign him to an extension before pulling the trigger.

    • Crockett

      I think this is a sign they have an offer that is ALMOST there, and they are trying to nudge the other team to cross the line.

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

        That’s what im thinking.

      • On The Farm

        I hope you are right. If they do resign him I am giving up and going back to my day job.

        • Crockett

          Well, Garza, Wood, Shark, and Jackson isn’t a bad 4-some to start with in 2014. Leaves you with piles of money to fill in other holes.

          I AM NOT ADVOCATING THIS POSITION.

          • On The Farm

            There is some optimism I overlooked. Well played

  • Rich H

    One thing you can guarantee about this front office is that it will get value for Garza. Whether that value is as a trade chip or an extension candidate is all up to Garza I imagine.

  • Jono

    Since he got injuried last year, I’ve been on the extension side. But now I feel like the organization needs pitching so bad that they should just get any arms they can get. I guess last year I assumed they would’ve improved in the pitching department more than what they have up to this point.

    • Jono

      Im not saying they should settle for below fair market value. Just that wherever fair market value is by july 31st, that’s what they should take

    • YourResidentJag

      The Cubs need at least one surefire #100 or top #50 prospect for Garza. Sorry, but getting any SP they can get doesn’t cut it for me. Besides, they’ve gotten that with the Feldman trade.

      • Jono

        Totally agree, hence why they shouldn’t give him up for below fair market value. I guess those two ideas I expressed are almost contradictory, but there’s a fine line in there somewhere. There’s no way they wont be able to get a top 100 or 50 player, that’s assumed. But from what I read, it seems like they’re asking for over fair market value (asking teams to overpay). If they don’t get that and can *only* get a #50top or so, id rather the cubs do that than what extend.

        • YourResidentJag

          Yeah, I’d agree with that.

        • Jono

          In other words, if they can’t find a team to over pay, id rather have them trade garza for fair market value than extend. Maybe that’s kind of an obvious point?

  • Eric S

    Or MAYBE the Cubs are pulling off the Good OL Sign and trade? Think about it? How much more valuable does Garza become if the Cubs sign him to an extension and the team that trades for him has him under control for 3-4 more years? Better prospects maybe?

    • bbmoney

      Sign and trades aren’t allowed in the MLB.

      • DarthHater

        The good ol’ oops.

  • Crockett

    Oh, Paul Sullivan.

    He included this nice line in his piece about the “Garza extension talks”:

    Gauging Garza’s worth would be difficult, though the Cubs signed Edwin Jackson to a four-year, $52 million deal last winter, despite a 64-67 career record.

    I love that the Cubs beat writer for the biggest paper in Chicago is such a smart baseball guy…judging all pitchers value by their W/L record. Yay, Paul! He’s so smart!

    • Fishin Phil

      Not only is he not real bright, he seems to genuinely hate the club as well. Really Tribune, this is the best you could find??

      • Werner

        Paul Sullivan openly and often throws haterade on his own job on Twitter, to name just one highly visable avenue. I used to work at a newspaper. I know the type all too well.

    • Spriggs

      He is such a jag. I agree with Phil, too. What’s up with his hate for the team? Sarcastic little jerk.

  • cubs2003

    I’m just spitballing here, but what about re-signing Garza, hanging on to Shark, and trading Travis Wood? He’s an obvious sell high candidate and could probably get you a haul of prospects. I don’t even know if I’d want to do that with the team control and all, but if you’re looking to stock the farm with high level pitching I don’t know.

    • On The Farm

      I don’t always get the “sell high” perspective. The teams that would be aquiring Wood are going to want a track record of proven success. The return would be nice, but you would probably end up with a guy who you hopes become what Wood already is.

      • Crockett

        Yeah, trading Wood is a totally different animal because of the controllable years, mainly. I don’t think the Cubs could expect to get anything better than what Wood is right now considering his level of play and financial status.

      • cubs2003

        I was hesitant in my comment for a reason. The thought was predicated on the possibility that the front office doesn’t think his success is sustainable and they can get a lot of value for him right now. He doesn’t have the best stuff in the world and is pitching out of his mind right now. Just a thought, but I’d be looking for a big return. Probably won’t happen.

        • On The Farm

          I dont think the FO would think that, when he came up last season he put together a very nice June and then struggled with his command in July and came back down to earth. Then he bounced back to a respectable August and put up some good numbers in Sept. I think Wood is a really good pitcher, maybe not as good as he is right now. All the same he is still very good.

          • cubs2003

            I agree he’s a good pitcher, but I think signing Garza and trading Wood is a roundabout way of trading money for prospects. It seems consistent with what the front office is doing. Of course, it would depend on what you could get. Again, I doubt it happens and it was just a thought.

            • cubs2003

              Or not even prospects, but a young position player who would fill a big need. I’m thinking part of a Stanton deal or something.

  • Brian Peters

    NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!! Garza’s GOT to GO!

  • Chris

    I would much rather not trade Garza — offer arbitration (he won’t accept) — and pick either a mid-to-late first rounder for him or a sandwich pick than to take some other teams 10th or 15th best prospect.

    That’s the main stipulation for me — we need to get a return that is equivalent or better than that potential 1st rounder/sandwich pick.

    Now if a team is offering up something juicy — I’ll drive Garza to the airport myself.

  • MichiganGoat

    I’ve got to say today was a refreshing change to what’s been happening here on the main page recently. Great discussion, good humor, and meaningful interaction. Of course I know this means the over reactionary, ridiculous, and face palming post are coming but it was a great day so far.

    • DarthHater

      ‏@FacebookCubs 24m
      Harrison was a good defensive player. Gonna miss him though.

      • Crockett

        What in the world is this about? Tell me.

        Also, find this place for me please.[img]http://lmn8.us/vx6ss8yb[/img]

        • DarthHater

          @FacebookCubs is a twitter page that re-posts the most amusing comments from the Cubs Facebook page. The one I posted above appears to be some dear soul commenting on the departure of Scott Harrison.

          • Crockett

            You sir, are a gentleman and a scholar.

    • DarthHater

      Sheesh! I lay low for just half of one day and ya’ll turn into such a bunch of kumbaya-singing namby-pambies that the Goat is congratulating you??? ;-)

    • Rebuilding

      I’m sure you have noticed a few people are missing

    • Whiteflag

      Cubs are never going to trade Garza. Theo and Jed aren’t competent enough get the deal done, but if the some how pull off a miracle and get rid of the nitwit. I will be happy with a half bag of peanuts. Cheers to bluer skies when Theo and Jed are removed from the helm, and we can spend like crazy on Jeff Francoeur.

      P.S. I also praying Mr. Ricketts decides to sell the Mr. Loria.

      • DarthHater

        Come on, Whiteflag, get your head out of you-know-where, you moron.

        • Whiteflag

          You’re right Darth. We can probably only get a empty bag of peanuts.

      • YourResidentJag

        Well, they absolutely got to get rid of him because Paul Sullivan said so.

  • Seth N.

    I still say 80% sure he is moved. But if he is willing to take a 3 or 4 year deal with no NTC, hum.

  • John

    Matt Loosen with a complete game no hitter today!

  • THEOlogical

    Couldn’t the Cubs essentially say, “hey Matt, let’s work out a deal for a new contract, but we’re going to trade you for some really good prospects this season”. That way, Garza gets to play for a contender this post season and has a nice new contract waiting for him with the Cubs in the off season. He gets his money, chance for a ring now and plays where he loves it while bringing in some talent himself. The Cubs get a few more prospects and keep Garza for when they’re in contention.

    • Kyle

      That’s tampering, but they could in theory get away with it if they kept it reasonably quiet.

      But in practice, it gets brought up every time a team trades someone before their contract is up and essentially never actually happens.

  • Adam

    Do teams ever trade a guy like Garza to grab some prospects and then sign him as a free agent in the off season?

    • Kyle

      Rarely, but I’m sure it’s happened at some point.

      • THEOlogical

        Cliff Lee was the last to come to mind. And I see your point Kyle, I just feel they could say that they’d LOVE to get him back in the off season. And would like the chance to counter any offer he’s given before signing with another team.

  • Satch Dobrey

    While they are at it, the Cubs better extend Soriano for another 10 years…

  • EQ76

    trading Garza says we hope to compete within the next 2-3 years, keeping him says we may try to compete next year.

  • mysterious4th

    I hope they can extend him. When he is healthy the guy is pretty damn good. Not the Verlander dominate. On a contending team he is a great #3 and at times a #2.

    Picture 1. Shark 2. Wood/Garza 3. Garza/Wood 4. Johnson (my pick over underwood-although if he reaches his potential I’d take him over Jackson) 5.Jackson

    What’s the chances we can get Feldman back in the off-season? I took a liking to him and thought him abd Nate Scherholtz were under the radar but smart moves

    • On The Farm

      Feldman has solidified his stock so far this season and if he continues in Baltimore, he wont be cheap enough to add to the payroll when you consider all the money going to EJax and Garza and knowing that Shark’s payday is looming.

  • Chad

    I’m not sure how many of these guys the cubs can afford. Shark’s pay day is going to be significantly larger than Garza’s though the cubs can put that off for a few years, but still 3 guys making at minimum 13 mil. I’m guessing Garza wants 15 and Shark closer to 17, so that is 45 on 3 pitchers. That’s getting up there.

    • On The Farm

      Not if you have a shiny new bilboard and playoff games to generate you some extra revenue.

    • Jono

      Let’s just hope that jackson improves his stats and they trade him in 2014 or 2015. Even a start with a 4 ERA should have trade value if there are a couple years of control there

      • Jono

        Even a *starter*……

    • Rich H

      You forgot the 20 to 25 for Price. Think about that one for a second.

      If we sign Garza and extend Shark with Jackson then go and trade say Baez and Johnson for Price we are going to be spending almost 70 million dollars on just starting pitching. Ask the Phillies how that turned out.

  • willis

    Looks like it was just covering bases and that the Cubs aren’t going to give him what he wants. I hope it’s not them being cheap on him and he is just being unreasonable. To let a guy go with his talents without offering a fair contract is insane and bad business.

  • TIMMY

    I am OK with them resigning him. He’s a quality #3 when healthy. This could also be a tactic by the GM office to show that they’re not desperate sellers. It’s a good tactic.

    It will just all depend on who’s desperate enough to win. He can definitely help on the right team.

  • aCubsFan

    Wittenmeyer tweeted there is nothing to the extension rumors.

  • FastBall

    If we resign Garza with our without a NTC he will have 5 & 10 rights shortly so it won’t matter much what his contract says. 4 years $70M and close the deal. Even if we work some magic on the bullpen and positional players we need pitching. Having 4 starters already in house who can keep us in games is extremely valuable toward our cause. If Baker were to come back and pitch a month of solid starts we could get him on a team friendly extension for at least another year. Then we have a rotation for next year. Buys us time for the MILB pitchers to get closer. If we do trade Garza it doesn’t get us anywhere in 2014 or 15 if we get High A pitchers back in return. We need kids outperforming AA and ready for AAA. No TJ reclimation projects. Solid arms who throw strikes and get people out. God what a difference watching this cat from Baltimore come in and just throw strikes. I was so happy to see someone throw strikes out of our bullpen I almost pissed myself.

    • Hansman1982

      An NTC impacts his trade value as it would stick with him after a trade. 10/5 rights would call off. Also, without an NTC we could trade him in two years if we fall out of contention that year.

      Not a significant difference but not worth the couple million it would save.

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