The Chicago Cubs have a big decision to make when it comes to one of their best pitchers. Starter Matt Garza missed most of the second half of 2012 with right elbow stress. At his shutdown, Garza was only 5-7 but with a very respectable 3.91 ERA in 103.2 innings. He had a WAR of 1.2, which, for a starter who threw 18 games for a very low-scoring team, is pretty darned good. Lack of support from both the offense and the bullpen kept his win total down as much as it did the rest of the staff’s. This solid performance followed his 2011 totals of 10-10, 3.32 ERA, and 4.9 WAR in a full season of 31 starts. He resumed offseason throwing programs in mid-December.
Now, the Cubs have decisions to make regarding Matt Garza. It is no secret that the Cubs are in the process of revamping nearly the entire roster from just two years ago. They have a sticky situation to deal with in Garza. At age 29, he is still in his prime, and he was fast becoming the Cubs’ most reliable pitcher before his injury. He became subject to deadline trade rumors to draw prospects to the Cubs’ organization. Those rumors have continued throughout the offseason. Three possibilities exist if Garza shows that he is healthy and can still pitch just as effectively throughout Spring Training.
Spring training trade
The Cubs could trade Matt Garza during Spring Training and try to get a bench player or more prospects. I understand the need for prospects, but the Cubs need some established veterans as well. Garza has pitched in the World Series with the Tampa Bay Rays, and he has faced other division races and postseason situations. He could help lead the younger pitchers such as Travis Wood and Jeff Samardzija among others. I would definitely hate to see Garza leave before the season begins.
If the Cubs are certainly out of the postseason race by July 31, then this would be the best time to trade him. Contenders will pay higher prices in cash, prospects, or both at this time. Even if out of it by then, the Cubs will know much better what they will have for the future and can give the younger pitchers such as Arodys Vizcaino and Trey McNutt some Major League innings. Still, I like Garza enough to want to keep him, but if the Cubs could get a valuable return to help the team down the road, then I would certainly understand a deadline deal.
Should Matt Garza stay a Cub for the entire season, then Jed Hoyer should do all that he can to bring Garza back for 2014 and beyond. By this time, the Cubs may be on the verge of contention, and they could certainly use Garza’s performance, leadership, and experience. They will have the money to re-sign him. The worst thing they could do is let him walk as a free agent and get only a draft pick in return.
The Cubs have a tough decision regarding Matt Garza. I would like to see him remain a Cub, but if they plan to trade him, then a July deadline would get the best return possible. One way or another, Matt Garza will help the Cubs return to contention in the near future.
Raymond became a baseball fan at a very young age. He played baseball through high school and soon after became a varsity coach. Raymond previously produced radio sports talk shows and hosted a weekly MLB radio call-in show. His favorite teams are the Chicago Cubs and New York Yankees. Follow Raymond on Twitter @RayBureau
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Filed Under: Major League Baseball