The Chicago Cubs likely will not be announced tonight as the team that won the Yu Darvish sweepstakes. That honor is likely to go to the Texas Rangers or Toronto Blue Jays. But the Darvish decision will have an impact on the Cubs’ off-season operations. Much like the Albert Pujols signing with the Los Angeles Angels set the market for position players, the expectation is that once the Darvish announcement is made, that should open up many possibilities for the Cubs on the trade market as well as the free agent market.
As Joe touched on this weekend, the Cubs are in negotiations with free agent starting pitcher Paul Maholm. While no deal between the two sides appears to be imminent, the expectation is the sides will come to an agreement at some point this off-season. The Cubs’ bid for Darvish would not necessarily preclude the Cubs from signing Maholm, but once they have a definitive answer on whether or not the Nippon-Ham Fighters have accepted their bid, it likely will clear the way for the Cubs to make other pitching-related transactions.
One way the Darvish decision will impact the Cubs is in their efforts to trade starting pitcher Matt Garza. If you make Cubbies Crib a part of your daily intake, you would know that Garza has been one of the more prominent names on the trade market this winter. After a flurry of trade rumors involving Garza leading up to and through the Winter Meetings, the rumors involving the Cubs trading their best starting pitcher have dissolved.
That was until this Saturday when the Cincinnati Reds acquired starting pitcher Matt Latos from the San Diego Padres in exchange for a haul of prospects that included first baseman Yonder Alonso. With the Padres’ addition of Alonso, that seemingly put top first base prospect Anthony Rizzo on the trading block. The Cubs likely have targeted Rizzo as the first baseman they want for the long-term future. Theo Epstein, Jason McLeod, and Jed Hoyer were the ones that drafted Rizzo in 2007, and the new Cubs’ trio still remain very much in love with their former farm-hand.
For much of this weekend, the Cubs have been in talks with the Padres about a three team trade involving the Rangers or Red Sox that would either send Garza to the Rangers or closer Carlos Marmol to the Red Sox. In either scenario, the Cubs would wind up with Rizzo and a handful of pitching prospects. The three way trade involving the Rangers seems to be more realistic than the trade involving the Red Sox. The Rangers are looking for a pitcher that can replace C.J. Wilson, hence why they are an “assumed” favorite for Darvish. If the Rangers fail to land Darvish, they likely will turn their attention to Garza. The Rangers were in the deep stages of negotiations with the Tampa Bay Rays last winter before the Cubs swooped in at the last second and acquired Garza. Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reports that the Blue Jays may turn their attention to Garza as well if their bid for Darvish comes up short.
This talk could all be irrelevant if the Cubs are a surprise team that win the Darvish sweepstakes, but if the guesses are true, Darvish will likely land with another team and the Cubs will likely have increased interest in Garza.