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How Ryan Dempster’s Opening Day Nod Helps Matt Garza?


As Andrew pointed out on Friday, the Chicago Cubs have announced that starting pitcher Ryan Dempster will get the Opening Day nod for the Cubs for the second consecutive season. Dempster was expected to be the Opening Day starting pitcher for the Cubs, but the reasons could have been made for why Garza should have received the nod. But the fact remains that Dempster has out-pitched Garza during the Cactus League this season, and that likely played into manager Dale Sveum’s decision to go with Dempster on Opening Day. But with Garza now being the #2 in the Cubs’ starting rotation, the starting pitcher stands to improve his trade value during the 2012 season.

Dempster will now be tasked with facing the opposing team’s top starting pitcher each time the Cubs’ veteran takes the mound every five days. As I mentioned earlier this month, when the Cubs opted to go with Dempster over Garza on Opening Day last season it seemed like they were opting for the sentimental reasons. John Arguello of Cubs Den points out the same reasoning could be into play this time around. As Arguello points out, this will likely be Dempster’s last season with the Cubs and that the Cubs may have wanted to honor Dempster for all of contributions to the team on and off the field.

I previously stated that if the Cubs’ wanted to get the most value out of Matt Garza as far as a possible trade goes, then they should have named Garza the starting pitcher for Opening Day. The notion would have suggested that Garza is the Cubs best pitcher on staff, and considering the Cubs’ demands for Garza would suggest that he is the team’s best starting pitcher, it would have made sense for Garza to be the perceived “ace” of the rotation by starting on Opening Day. But with Dempster starting on Opening Day, the opportunity still exists for Garza to increase his trade value throughout the season.

Reason being, Garza–who should be considered as a #1 pitcher–will now be going up against pitchers of less perceived value than a #1. That will instantly give Garza the advantage in most of his matchups this season, which would signal more wins for the 27 year old starting pitcher. More wins would mean more value for Garza in 2012, and that would mean it would is more likely that a team is willing to give in to the Cubs’ demands for Garza.

Talk of Garza’s trade value could all be irrelevant if the the Cubs’ sign the starting pitcher to a long-term extension. The Cubs and Garza have been in discussions about a long-term extension throughout Spring Training. Both President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein and General Manager Jed Hoyer have both said publicly that Garza is the type of pitcher that the team would like to build their rotation around, and both are hopeful that Garza signs a long-term deal with the team. While a long-term deal would not preclude the Cubs from trading Garza, it would seem more likely that Garza will transition to a long-term asset if an extension were to be signed at some point this season.