It’s a fair bet that, despite the All-Star festivities, we’ll still hear things about the Matt Garza shopping efforts …
- If you were the Cubs, and you knew you were going to be dealing Matt Garza over the next couple weeks, how would you utilize the All-Star break to set up your rotation? Why, you’d try to minimize the number of starts Garza has before the 31st, yes? Kudos to the Cubs, because they’re doing just that: Garza is not scheduled to start again until July 22, which is perfect timing for so many reasons. First, it gives the Cubs a full week to try and deal Garza before he starts again. Second, it means Garza, if the Cubs take this thing to the Deadline, will start just twice more – July 22, and July 27. That second start, if he makes it with the Cubs, would set things up perfectly for the Cubs to be able to send Garza along at the Deadline so that he could start immediately for his new team. (Note: the Cubs aren’t being too crafty here – the 22nd would be the fifth start after Garza’s last start, even if it’s nine days later. In other words, using Garza that day is justifiable even if there wasn’t an incentive to align the starts in this manner.)
- Jon Heyman reported yesterday that Garza had been told by the Cubs that he’ll likely be traded. For his part, Garza says he hasn’t heard anything like that. I have to ask … does it really matter? Whether Garza has been told or not that he’s “likely” to be traded, everyone knows that he’s “likely” to be traded. I suppose it would be a small, additional data point, but it isn’t the kind of thing that really clarifies in either direction. Once an extension became “unlikely,” a trade became something probably even more than “likely.”
- Buster Olney says there’s an 80-ish percent chance that Garza is dealt before Friday. Dave Kaplan also hears that a deal is likely this week.
- The huge-grain-of-salt-but-still-kind-of-interest-so-long-as-you-keep-the-proper-perspective insidery scuttlebutt (occurring in various locations, including the comments here at BN) has the Cubs very close to pulling the trigger on a Garza deal, with a couple teams having received permission to talk to Garza about an extension. That latter bit is something you frequently see come up in rumors about rental players, and sometimes the extension is actually put together. The ability to discuss and then ink an extension with a free-agent-to-be is of debatable trade value (some say it has no value, others say it has huge value; I fall somewhere in the middle, noting that the “first crack” has to have marginal value, and having an extension in place could give a team the confidence it needs to part with the prospect package that it was slightly nervous about losing). In Garza’s case, I have a very hard time seeing a receiving team giving him the kind of extension that is going to make him want to forgo free agency, when he’s so close to being the top pitcher available (and wouldn’t be tied to draft pick compensation). A receiving team is going to have to pay him essentially what he projects he’d receive in free agency (because it’s not like he’s even getting to choose his preferred destination), and I’m not sure I see why a team would do that. Maybe there’s a magical confluence of it being the right team with the right pieces and the right money, but I’m not so sure I see an extension playing out as part of the Garza trade talks.
- (Which is not to say these kinds of talks aren’t happening. It doesn’t hurt to ask the Cubs whether you can engage Garza in extension talks – might as well see what kind of demands he’s going to have, right? – and I tend to think all kinds of angles are at least discussed when trade talks are happening.)