View From The Bleachers

Talking Cubs Baseball Since 2003



December 2011



Keeping Matt Garza

Written by , Posted in General

Aside from Starlin Castro, there’s no one in the Cubs organization with higher potential trade value than Matt Garza.  That’s why his name seems to pop up virtually every other day in some trade rumor.  And while the hypothetical haul we could get for him might be tantalizing–especially for a team with so many needs and too little in-house talent to fill them–I think we should hold onto him.  Here’s why:

  • Age  Garza is twenty-eight year old.  While that’s not necessarily young in baseball years, it’s also not old.  Now would be the time to invest in him–lock him up into his early thirties, and make him the anchor of a pitching staff that may look radically different a year from now.  With Dempster and Zambrano playing for new contracts, the serial underperfomance of Wells, and the Mr. Mystery Guest-nature of our fifth starter spot (Travis Wood might be penciled in for now, but anything can between now and Opening Day), our pitching staff could be four-fifths different this time next year.  Keeping Garza doesn’t help secure any of those other spots, but it does mean we’ll have at least one reliable starter to build around.
  • Stuff  We can argue about whether or not Garza is an “ace” some other time.  What’s clear is that he was the best starter the Cubs had this season, and barring injury he probably will be again this season.  Trading away Garza might mean welcoming the Rodrigo Lopez’s and Casey Coleman’s of the world back into our starting rotation.  Maybe we could get some MLB-viable pitching in return, but it’s hard to imagine getting back a pitcher or pitchers who can replace the quality we’d sacrifice in a deal for Garza.
  • Intangibles  Don’t worry–I’m not going to use words like “grit” or “heart.”  But one thing that stood out about Garza this year was how much he pulls for his teammates.  You can’t miss him on his off days, perched behind the dugout fence on his makeshift seat, hopping up and down like an insane cheerleader every time someone crosses the plate.  Obviously I don’t know what he’s like off the field, but from what I’ve seen, he appears to be the kind of guy you want in your clubhouse.  As the Cubs get younger over the next few seasons, it will be important to have some kind of leadership in place–Kerry Wood won’t be around forever.  Garza’s appears to be the kind of guy who can help maintain some clubhouse consistency while Epstein and Hoyer rebuild the roster.
  • Price  Garza made just a hair under $6M last season.  He’s probably due for a raise this year, and who knows what he’ll be able to demand by the time he hits the free agent market.  And while there’s no guarantee he’d take it, maybe offer him something in the neighborhood of 4 years/$48M and see if he bites.  With all the money that’s coming off the books, that won’t make a huge payroll dent.  In fact, maybe Hoyer could do the anti-Jim Hendry thing and front-load the contract a bit to make him more tradeable on the back end of his deal.  I have no idea if that would be enough to lock him up for a few years–the point is the Cubs won’t know either until they try.  And looking around the current roster, where else would you like them to spend money?  Garza’s one of the few guys on the team right now you could reasonably invest in.

From where I sit, Garza is a keeper.  He’s young enough to build on, and might be cheap enough to invest in.  He’s got the measurable and unmeasurable qualities I’m looking for, and it seems to me at least that so far he’s enjoyed his time as a Cub, and would like to stick around for a while.

Of course, all that goes out the window if someone makes us a Godfather-esque offer we can’t refuse (do horse heads in beds constitute tampering in the MLB?).  But barring some blowout deal that brings back several of the missing pieces from this particular Cubs puzzle, I think we ought to keep Matt Garza.


  • Buddy

    Very well done. I’m a Garza fan, so unless the Cubs get overwhelmed with a fantastic trade offer, I hope they keep him.

  • Ditto to JJ and Buddy. We need at least one day of the week where our starter doesn’t make us want to puke.

  • Doc Raker

    Reason number 5: We have no other starting pitchers as defined by someone who can actually get people out on a consistent basis. I am not defining a pitcher to be someone who throughs off the mound at the general direction of home plate. Of course Len and Bob will say in a broadcast, “Pitching for the Cubs is little Tim Tim” meaning the Cubs always have a pitcher in the line up but very few times do they have a competent pitcher on the mound. Nice article JJ.

  • chris in illinois

    I think 4×48 is incredibly optimistic given the Danks contract…

  • Noah

    I’d be willing to trade Garza in some select situations, but I’d need to get a haul close to what the Padres got for Latos or the A’s got for Gio. I’m not sure the Cubs are getting that right now, because Latos and Gio have a lot less service time. Honestly, in my opinion Garza’s trade value could increase mid-season. You have the guys who are going to hit free agency after 2012 in Hamels and Greinke, but they are on teams with at least decent shots of being in the race. If the Phillies and Brewers aren’t selling, Garza would almost certainly be the best pitcher potentially available at the break.


    We have people on here who would trade Castro, so I wouldn’t be surprised that people want Garza traded. My opinion for the time being is Castro and Garza are untouchable


    And I also think we should lock him up, given the contract Danks just got. I also think front-loading is a good idea so that when the half billion dollar albatross the Tribune went on is over, we aren’t stuck with a new albatross of deals.

  • Noah Eisner

    BLPCB, Castro is essentially untouchable to me, because the trades that would work for him are trades that would never been offered. A trade for Castro would have to be headlined by a star quality major leaguer with similar service time or a top of the line prospect on the verge of the Majors. One of the examples I’ve given is that, if the Nationals offered Bryce Harper straight up for Castro, I’d take that in an instant. I probably would not trade Castro for any pitcher, even Matt Moore who has just signed a very team friendly deal, because pitcher health is so unstable.

    So, in theory, Castro is not untouchable, because in theory no one is to me. In practice, though, Castro probably is untouchable, because I don’t think you’re going to get anyone to offer equivalent or greater value for him at this point because his value is so high.


    I consider Castro untouchable, however, there was a debate here the other day, and some people would trade Castro

  • Timo

    Great article. I totally agree. Finding a pitcher with the quality of Garza will always be very hard and I don’t see a reason for trading him this offseason. Mayby think about trading him at the deadline, if a team is then willing to give up some pitching talent. Otherwise I don’t think we could get back enough to fill the holes the Cubs have.

  • Buddy

    I would say that nobody is untouchable. However, Castro would be very difficult to get.

  • Norm

    BLPCB – BoSox call and offer Pedroia, Ellsbury, and Lester for Castro…you say “no” to that?

  • Norm

    Timo, why would you be willing to trade him at the deadline but not now?

  • Buddy

    Sign me up for that deal, Norm!


    I would make that deal in a heartbeat. Maybe Theo should have done that while they were haggling out the details of his compensation, and he was being held hostage.

  • Larry Sproul

    If at all possible you keep Garza !! What else can the rotation be built around ??

  • walterj

    i’ll admit , garza is the best pitcher for the cubs , but he’s not an ace . on the market he would command a five maybe six year deal between 15 and 18 million . to me he’s not worth it .if the cubs can get a deal simular to what the padres got back , they should do it . though i don’t believe they can because latos is younger and with more team control of years , i think they should try . if the tigers , bluejays , marlins or yankees want to give up one really good prospect , two good prospects and one lower one i think the cubs should take it without blinking .

  • jgod42

    Average SP seem to get $12MM these days so I don’t see that happening. Jedstein knows what they have in Matt. They are in a great position. Trade him to a desperate team and receive a major haul or keep him and extend him. Either way, the Cubs win. I don’t think the smart guys at Clark and Addison will trade him just to trade him. They will either get major league ready prospects or keep him.

  • stormyweather

    Call the Blue Jays-trade me DArnaud,Drabek, and one other top 5 pitching prospect, Ill trade Garza, whom I consider a good, not great pitcher.

  • mrbaseball2usa

    I guess the one easy thing about this whole situation is that we have a fairly recent frame of reference on what we gave up for Matt. If the offer(s) we receive don’t blow away what we gave up, then I don’t think they are worthwhile offers.