A couple of reports yesterday cast a gloomy shadow over the ongoing Matt Garza trade talks. If, that is, your inclination is to hope that the Cubs successfully deal their best pitcher.
First, ESPNNewYork reported that the New York Yankees aren’t crazy about the Cubs’ asking price for Garza, and probably won’t continue pursuing a trade if the Cubs don’t back down.
But the word out of Yankeeville– also known this winter as The Land of No — is that the asking price is out of the question. The problem is not money this time, at least not immediately — Garza will make about $8 million this year and is not eligible for free agency for two more season — but prospects; like everyone else in baseball, the Cubs are demanding at least two, and possibly all three, of the Yankees Holy Trinity of Jesus Montero, Manny Banuelos and Dellin Betances.
If the Yankees wouldn’t part with Eduardo Nunez for Cliff Lee, you can bet they’re not parting with even two of those three for Matt Garza.
Asking for all three of Montero, Banuelos and Betances is the kind of ask that gets you ushered out of the bargaining room by a host who might be slightly offended. But it’s not SO ridiculous that it tells your counterpart that you’re perversely out of touch and aren’t worth talking to. Keep in mind: these teams are approaching the Cubs about Garza, not the other way around. The opening ask should be quite high.
(By the way, until this report, it didn’t seem possible that Montero might theoretically be available. If he is, then Montero immediately jumps to the top of my list of the best individual prospects that have been attached to these Garza talks, ahead of Tigers’ pitcher Jacob Turner.)
And then there was the report from Ken Rosenthal, suggesting the Blue Jays, once thought the primary suitor for Garza, might be moving on.
The Jays were thwarted in their attempts to trade for right-hander Mat Latos and lefty Gio Gonzalez and obtain the rights to Japanese right-hander Yu Darvish. They still could sign a free agent, but are unlikely to acquire righty Matt Garza from the Cubs, major-league sources say.
Latos and Gonzalez both are under club control for four more years. Garza is under club control for only two more, and the Jays aren’t as willing to give up top prospects for a relatively short-term addition, sources say.
Overly-simplified, immediate reaction: hey, Blue Jays, maybe you wouldn’t have been thwarted in your attempts to land Latos and Gonzalez if you’d stepped up with those “top prospects.” Secondary immediate reaction: since when did a guy under control for two years become a short-term addition?
Setting aside those initial reactions, I’m just not sure how much Rosenthal’s report is really telling us, and I don’t know what he means when he says the Jays are disinclined to give up “top prospects.” Are Travis D’Arnaud and Brett Lawrie “top prospects”? Or are Noah Syndergaard and Anthony Gose “top prospects”?
There’s just not a whole lot there to go on. I’m not saying the Jays aren’t “out,” but saying they’re unlikely to acquire Garza was always true. Even if the Cubs are presently guaranteed to trade Garza (they’re not), the Jays would have had, what, a 20% chance of getting him if four other teams are involved? Isn’t 20% “unlikely”?
I don’t want to blow sunshine where there’s none to be blown, but I don’t think we’ve reached a point at which any team, including the Yankees and Blue Jays, can be characterized as “out” on Matt Garza. Doing so implies that the two teams can’t come back to the table (of course they can), and that the Cubs are absolutely definitely going to trade Matt Garza (they might not).
Even if we take these rumors at their face, what have we really learned? Right now, the Yankees and Blue Jays are not willing to accept the Cubs’ initial, extremely high demands for Matt Garza.
Isn’t that how most negotiations start? Would we rather the Cubs were asking such a low price on Garza that every team immediately said, “Ok! Let’s do it!”?
There is nothing in either report to suggest that the Cubs couldn’t negotiate further or that the Blue Jays and Yankees couldn’t change their minds and come back to the table (if they’ve really left it). While it is valuable to have this information, it’s also important to keep it in perspective. The Cubs don’t have to trade Matt Garza. They’re listening to offers, and have very little incentive to take less than they’re demanding for him. Against that backdrop, teams are likely to be “in” and “out” of trade talks with regularity.