The goal of the 0ff-season for President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein and General Manager Jed Hoyer was to turn short-term assets into long-term assets. It goes without saying that Epstein and Hoyer achieved that goal this winter. Through trading pitcher Andrew Cashner, the front office acquired a first baseman in Anthony Rizzo that will likely be the long-term solution to the Cubs’ first base position. The same can be said for when Epstein traded Sean Marshall to the Cincinnati Reds for starting pitcher Travis Wood and two minor league pitchers; when Carlos Zambrano was traded to the Miami Marlins for starting pitcher Chris Volstad; and when Tyler Colvin and DJ LeMahieu were traded to the Colorado Rockies for third baseman Ian Stewart and a minor league pitcher.
That is one of the main ways that Epstein and Hoyer plan to turnaround the Cubs organization. By taking players that are viewed as short-term assets and making them long-term assets. Usually this process is done through way of trade. Hence why Zambrano, Cashner, Colvin, LeMahieu, and Marshall were all traded this season. Such a thinking is also why the likes of Geovany Soto, Carlos Marmol, Marlon Byrd, and Ryan Dempster have been mentioned as potential trade candidates for the Cubs this season.
Another player that has been mentioned in the same sentence as Soto, Marmol, Byrd, and Dempster as possible trade candidates is starting pitcher Matt Garza. In fact, Garza’s name has been involved in more trade rumors this winter than any other player on the Cubs’ roster. It is no secret that Epstein and Hoyer have been listening to offers for Garza throughout the entire off-season, and it one point, it seemed like the Cubs were on the verge of trading Garza to the Detroit Tigers for a package that would have included the Tigers’ top pitching prospect Jacob Turner. The Tigers’ interest in Garza seems to have decreased since thier signing of free agent first baseman Matt Garza.
With Garza in camp with the Cubs, the question now becomes what does Garza’s future look like with the Cubs?
The answer to that question may be that Garza is becoming a long-term for the Chicago Cubs. Epstein has always admitted that Garza is the type of pitcher he would like to build the team around. With Garza being 27 years old, the pitcher is in a position where he could be the ace of the Cubs’ rotation for the five year project that Epstein and Hoyer are working on. According to Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun Times, the plan may now be for Garza to sign a long-term extension with the Cubs. Using quotes form Hoyer–who is only repeating statements said previously this winter–Wittenmyer seems to build the case that the Cubs are planning to sign Garza to a long-term extension.
Many Cubs fans do not what to think when it comes to Garza. After all, Garza was the pitcher that former General Manager Jim Hendry gave up four upper-level prospects in order to acquire the former Rays’ pitcher. From that standpoint alone, it would seem many fans would be against the idea of trading Garza. But if the Cubs were to trade Garza at some point this season, it is likely that the prospects coming to the organization in exchange for Garza would make up the value lost when Hendry traded Chris Archer, Robinson Chirinos, Brandon Guyer, and Hak-Ju Lee to the Rays.
A long-term extension does not necessarily preclude the Cubs from trading Garza. Though recent speculation has speculated that Garza may ask for a no trade clause, at least for the first couple years of his new contract. Garza is a fan of the city of Chicago and loves being a member of the Cubs’ organization. But it is possible that the Cubs’ sign Garza to an extension during spring training, and then come July, the team may still look to trade the starting pitcher.
For what it’s worth, I get the sense that Garza will start and finish the season with the Cubs. Epstein and Hoyer may be disappointed with the value of the offers they are receiving for Garza, if they weren’t, Garza would have already been traded by now.