Starting pitcher Matt Garza has been a prominent name in the Chicago Cubs’ off-season. Throughout the entire off-season, there have been a plethora of trade rumors that involved Garza’s name. The off-season began with many reporters openly wondering if the Cubs would look to trade Garza this winter, and shortly after the season concluded, those reporters had their answer. Garza’s name started to appear in trade rumors with the Texas Rangers, Miami Marlins, Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees, Washington Nationals, Detroit Tigers, and Toronto Blue Jays all being mentioned as teams throughout the off-season that have had some type of dialogue with the Cubs regarding Garza.
The days leading up to the Winter Meetings in December reports surfaced from various outlets that Garza was likely to be traded during those meetings. The Cubs had multiple conversations with the Blue Jays during those meetings, but no deal ever materialized from those discussions. Then shortly after the calender year changed to 2012, David Kaplan reported that the Cubs and Tigers were progressing on trade talks that would have sent Garza to the Tigers for a package of prospects that likely included top pitching prospect Jacob Turner. The Tigers have since backed off from Garza as the team balked at the Cubs’ demands.
The Garza trade rumors have been put on the back burner over the course of the past three weeks, likely because the Cubs and Garza have been focused on trying to avoid an arbitration hearing. Garza submitted a proposal of $12.5 million, while the Cubs countered with an offer of $7.95 million. A key factor to note is that Garza made $5.95 million in 2011. Considering the sizable difference between the amount that Garza requested and the amount that the Cubs’ offered, a hearing would likely create some unnecessary tension between Garza and the team’s front office. Again, I bring up Ryan Theriot. Theriot and former General Manager Jim Hendry had a rather toxic arbitration hearing in 2010 that saw the Cubs be the victors, though there is a belief that the hearing was the first stepping stone to Theriot being traded at the 2010 trading deadline.
Phil Rogers of the Chicago Tribune tweeted on Tuesday that the arbitration hearing between the Cubs and Garza will take place on Friday. It goes without saying that both sides are trying to reach an agreement before they are forced to go to hearing. In the arbitration process, there is no middle, the panel of arbitrators will decide if Garza will be paid $12.5MM in 2012 or $7.95MM. If the Cubs plan to trade Garza at some point during the season, the Cubs’ front office better hope that they can reach an agreement with their starting pitcher prior to Friday’s hearing. While it is likely that the Cubs would win the hearing if it reaches that point, a hearing may cause unwanted tension between Garza and the team. Though if Garza is not willing to come down from his request, President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein–who never went to an arbitration hearing while General Manager of the Red Sox–may be in favor of the hearing.
Once Garza’s case is settled it is likely that trade rumors will begin to pick up again. Though, the Cubs’ front office and Garza’s agent have been in discussions on a long-term deal. The rumored deal that has been suggested has been for 5 years, worth around $60 million. While signing Garza to an extension would not preclude the Cubs’ from trading the starting pitcher, it does lessen the chances that Garza will be traded–at least in 2012.