Cubs

Could Cubs trade Garza for Rizzo?

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Could Cubs trade Garza for Rizzo?

With the Reds-Padres trade Saturday, there was some speculation San Diego's top first base prospect Anthony Rizzo could be on the trading block and that the Cubs could have interest.

Matt Garza's name has been involved in trade talks as well this offseason, most notably with the Rangers during the winter meetings in Dallas earlier this month.

Both of those talks are picking up more now as Jim Bowden of ESPN and MLB Network Radio tweeted out in the wee hours of Sunday morning:

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JIM BOWDENPadres have interest in a package deal with the primary trade pieces being Anthony Rizzo and Matt Garza...should be interesting in Cubs view
Dec 18 via webFavoriteRetweetReply

Hard to see the Cubs trading him, especially as Jed Hoyer and Theo Epstein continue to express a desire to improve the team's run prevention, which obviously includes the starting rotation. It wouldn't fit with that strategy for the new Theo Trio to send away their best pitcher.

But then again, if the Cubs were to trade Garza for anybody, Rizzo may be one of the top guys.

Jason McLeod drafted Rizzo in Boston and then Theo sent the young first baseman to San Diego (where Hoyer was GM) in the package for superstar Adrian Gonzalez.

All three are familiar with the 22-year-old and they're all high on him. He could be a team cornerstone for years to come.

Rizzo struggled in the 49 games he appeared in with the Padres last season, but considering the 1.056 OPS he put up in Triple-A last year, he appears to be ready to take over a Major League position at the start of the season.

The Cubs do need a first baseman (especially if all this Prince Fielder talk really is a media smokescreen) but it would still be really hard to trade Garza. There would likely be other pieces to the puzzle and more players coming back to Chicago than just Rizzo.

Willson Contreras, Jon Lester carry Cubs to eventful win in the first game of the series with Atlanta

Willson Contreras, Jon Lester carry Cubs to eventful win in the first game of the series with Atlanta

The Cubs and Braves got through roughly one inning of Stranger Things Night at Wrigley Field before Willson Contreras made the evening his own. 

The catcher went 2-4 with three RBI, and provided the most notable moment from the game: a 2nd inning solo homer that caused both benches to clear. Contreras had taken issue with a few of the called strikes earlier in the at-bat, and said something to home plate umpire John Tumpane about it. Contreras continued to make his feelings known as he left the box, drawing the ire of Braves catcher Tyler Flowers.

“To be honest, those pitches weren’t even close to the strike zone,” he said. “[Flowers] got mad because I was talking to the umpire about that, and he jumped into the conversation. 

Contreras then proceeded to shout in the direction of Atlanta’s dugout while rounding first base, and the two catchers exchanged more words as he crossed home plate. The benches quickly emptied, and after a few moments of posturing, returned to their dugouts. 

“It was a lot of emotions together,” he said after the game. “I was having a conversation with the umpire, and it ended up with [Flowers], so that’s all I can say. I just basically told him to do his job and I’ll do mine. I don’t know why he got pissed off because that’s all I said - you do your job and i’ll do mine.”

“I was kind of amused by the whole thing,” Joe Maddon added. “I don’t really know Mr. Flowers - we had a nice conversation, walked away, and it was over. It really wasn’t worth more than what happened.

The confrontation was just one of a few testy moments between these two teams. In the top of the 2nd inning, Braves third baseman Josh Donaldson was caught on cameras shushing the Cubs dugout: 

Two innings later, it was Javy Baez who returned serve by blowing the Braves a kiss after stealing second on Flowers: 

“It’s fun because they’re good,” Maddon said. “And we’re good - that’s the fun part. Monday night, at 7:05, to have that kind of attitude and atmosphere is outstanding. That’s what baseball needs.” 

On the mound, Jon Lester bounced back from a run of three straight underwhelming performances. June hasn’t been kind to Lester, as the lefty had allowed 14 runs over the last 23 IPs prior to Monday’s start, good for a 5.93 FIP. He threw 94 pitches against the Braves, lasting six innings while allowing two runs -- both unearned, though -- and striking out seven. He only threw 94 pitches, but his control (0 BB) was excellent. Lester spotted his strikeout pitch well all night, getting four of his six right-handed K’s on the low outside corner:

“I just tried to stay down there, and had the backdoor cutter to those guys,” Lester said. “We were able to kind of exploit that, and then when we felt that guys were reaching out there a little bit, I ran the cutter in on some guys too. I was just able to command both sides of the plate tonight, which is huge against an offense like that.” 

“Great job by Jon,” Maddon added, “Jon had great stuff. Coming off of [throwing 114 pitches], he’s been throwing a lot of pitches on regular rest, so I wanted to limit that tonight. He was lobbying to go back out, but I didn’t feel good about it based on the longevity of the season and we had a rested Kintzler.

“But Jon was really good, and really good against a tough lineup.”

Baseball Night in Chicago Podcast: Live from Wrigley it's Cubs Authentic Fan Night

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USA TODAY

Baseball Night in Chicago Podcast: Live from Wrigley it's Cubs Authentic Fan Night

Ozzie Guillen and Doug Glanville join Leila Rahimi to talk all things Chicago baseball as the Cubs take on the Braves and the White Sox look to get a win in Boston.

Listen to the full episode in the embedded player below: