Chicago Cubs general manager Jim Hendry loves to “wheel and deal” with other general managers about possible trades. One of the biggest trades that never happened for the Cubs was the trade for San Diego Padres’ starting pitcher Jake Peavy. The talk throughout the winter of 2009 was that the Cubs were eventually going to land Peavy before the 2009 season started. That belief increase after the Cubs traded Mark DeRosa that winter and received three pitching prospects. While DeRosa was a fan favorite, the expectation among the fans was that the Cubs were going to flip the three pitching prospects they got from Cleveland- Chris Archer, John Guab, and Jeff Stevens- and include them as part of package for Peavy. Well, Peavy did end up in Chicago, the only problem was that he is with the Chicago White Sox not the Cubs. Which brings me to this winter, and the Cubs pursuit of Matt Garza.
The Cubs were first mentioned as a potential suitor for Garza at the Winter Meetings, where they met with the Rays on multiple occasions about a proposed deal that would have sent Garza to the Chicago Cubs. At that point, a deal was believed to be imminent. But as most rumored trades do, the deal never materialized. The likely reason was because the Rays wanted to see what the trade market would be for Matt Garza after then free agent Cliff Lee signed with a new team. Lee signed with the Phillies, leaving teams like the Yankees, Rangers, and Nationals still in search for a starting pitcher. The Rangers signed Brandon Webb – the Cubs primary free agent pitching target- to solidify their rotation. Leaving the Cubs, Yankees, and Nationals as three teams that still are interested in Matt Garza.
According to Bruce Levine on his weekly talk radio show, “Talkin Baseball”, on ESPN Radio 1000, Hendry is “trying like heck” to acquire Garza from the Tampa Bay Rays. It still will cost about three of four prospects in order to trade for Garza, and the Cubs and Rays are in discussions about such a deal. By now it is fairly clear that the Rays would prefer to have shortstop prospect Hak-Ju Lee in the deal, but the Cubs are hesitant to trade him. But the Rays may resist their urge for Lee, as Garza’s value is seemingly decreasing because the less amount of teams that are interested in him. It is believed that while the Yankees are interested, the Cubs and Nationals are the only teams to be having discussions with the Rays about Garza.
The addition of Matt Garza for the Cubs would move them from the bottom half of National League to one of teams contending for a postseason spot. Not to mention, Garza would provide the Cubs with a very potent top half of their starting rotation. The expectation is that Ryan Dempster will be the opening day starter, followed by Carlos Zambrano and then potentially Matt Garza. Also by acquiring Garza, the Cubs would also be allowing themselves to keep Andrew Cashner in the bullpen. With the addition of Kerry Wood, a bullpen that consists of Cashner, Sean Marshall, and Carlos Marmol could be one of the best in baseball next season. As we have seen so many times before, if you have strong pitching, then you are likely going to be in contention for the postseason.