Matt Garza has had an interesting winter. In spite of the fact that Garza appears primed to be the ace of the Cubs’ starting rotation next season, there seems to be an increasing chance that Garza will be traded before he ever has the opportunity to put on a Cubs’ uniform for the 2012 season. The Garza trade rumors really began to appear last July at the trade deadline, when some reporters suggested that the Cubs should listen to offers for the 27 year old starting pitcher. But with former general manager Jim Hendry operating under a lame-duck status, Garza remained a Cub for the remainder of the 2011 season.
Then the Cubs’ entire philosophy changed when Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer joined the Cubs’ baseball department as the President of Baseball Operations and General Manager. Since neither Epstein nor Hoyer have admiration for the prospects in the Cubs’ farm system, the pair of executives do not feel obliged to keep any of the prospects currently in the Cubs’ system. This train of thought could be the leading factor in why Tyler Colvin, Ryan Flaherty, DJ LeMahieu, and Marwin Gonzalez are no longer a part of the Cubs’ organization.
But having realized that the Cubs’ farm system is currently no where close to where it needs to be, Epstein and Hoyer seem intent on adding prospects in order to turn the Cubs’ minor league system into a stream of talent being sent to the major league level. The only way that Epstein and Hoyer can achieve that goal is if they trade away some of the current assets on the major league level for top prospects from another organization. The problem is that the Cubs do not possess the assets required to net top prospects.
The one asset the Cubs have that has that capability is Garza. From that standpoint, that would give the Cubs no other option but to trade their best starting pitcher. While Garza is only 27 years old and under team control for two more seasons, it is possible that Garza could give the Cubs more value as a trading chip rather than the value he offers the Cubs while pitching for the organization. The possibility remains that Garza could sign an extension with the Cubs, but if the plethora of starting pitching trades that have already occurred are any indicator, it would seem likely that Garza will be dealt in the coming weeks.
Mat Latos, Trevor Cahill, and Gio Gonzalez were some of the bigger-named starting pitchers to be traded this winter. The San Diego Padres and Oakland Athletics–given the size of the return package for those aforementioned three pitchers–have no regrets about making the deals they made. Not to mention that Japanese phenom starting pitcher Yu Darvish was also available to major league teams this winter. However, there are still a handful of teams that remain interested in starting pitchers after losing out on Latos, Cahill, Gonzalez, and Darvish. The New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, Toronto Blue Jays, and Detroit Tigers are all teams that lost out on the four pitchers mentioned. Those four teams have all turned their attention to one pitcher. That pitcher being Garza.
The Cubs have had serious trade discussions regarding a possible Garza with all four of those teams. Talks have reportedly advanced to the stage where it would seem likely that Garza will be dealt at some point. While there appears to be no trade that is imminent, there is a growing consensus that the Blue Jays will be the team to land Garza. While the Yankees’ level of interest in Garza has not been disclosed, it is known that the Red Sox have backed off of Garza in recent weeks. The Tigers are not interested in the Cubs’ demands of pitching prospects Jacob Turner and Andy Oliver in addition to two position prospects.
However it would seem that the Blue Jays are indeed willing to give up the top prospects necessary in order to attain Garza. Some of the names that have been rumored to be involved in a potential Cubs and Blue Jays trade are Jays’ pitching prospects Kyle Drabek and Deck McGuire in addition to outfield prospect Anthony Gose. If the Cubs are intent on landing a package of prospects that has greater value than the prospects the former regime gave up when they traded for Garza, then the Blue Jays are there best trade partner.