Cubs

Cubs counting on a strong return by Garza

782508.png

Cubs counting on a strong return by Garza

NASHVILLE, Tenn. One year from now, Matt Garza could be the type of big-game pitcher that teams are fighting over at the winter meetings.

But that presumes Garzas completely healthy and puts together the type of monster season the Cubs believe hes capable of having.

Garzas expected to begin throwing within the next several days as he recovers from the stress reaction in his right elbow. The Cubs met with his agents here at the Gaylord Opryland and have received good reports from their medical staff. Signs are pointing to him being in the Opening Day rotation.

His mood, his optimism seems really good, and sometimes you have to gauge a lot based on that, general manager Jed Hoyer said Tuesday. He was pretty down in July and early August. You could tell he knew there was something wrong with him. Now you get the sense that hes excited to get going and start his real rehab.

His mood is hopefully indicative of a totally healthy guy that can be ready to go in spring training.

Theres nothing subtle about Garza, from his tattoos to his money quotes to the shaving-cream pies he liked to slam into teammates faces during postgame television interviews. His state of mind is telling.

You know Garza, manager Dale Sveum said. He cant wait to get back on the mound. (But) right now, hes at baby steps.

The Cubs shut down Garza in the second half of last season and didnt push his return with the team so far out of contention. Even if he had pitched into September, this is still roughly the time hed start cranking it up and throwing again.

The Cubs would love to see Garza channel all that intensity in the right direction and become a complete pitcher. That means finishing hitters and fielding his position. (Remember all those wild throws to first base winding up in the stands?) In what looks like his final season before hitting free agency, there will be plenty of motivation.

Hes the type of pitcher thats a frontline guy that can and should be a No. 1, No. 2 (starter), Sveum said. But he has to get to that level of winning and not giving games away with that kind of stuff, and he knows that. Hell be the first one to tell you theres something that always gets in the way of domination.

Cubs aren’t trading Yu Darvish this winter, despite reported inquiries

Cubs aren’t trading Yu Darvish this winter, despite reported inquiries

Whether the Cubs trade a member of their position player core this winter — i.e. Kris Bryant, Willson Contreras — is to be determined. Both have been fixtures in rumors this offseason, and the Cubs may make a deal to replenish their barren farm system and retool their roster with the organization’s long-term stability in mind.

Yu Darvish, on the other hand, is a different story.

No, the Cubs won’t be trading Darvish this winter, despite the inquiries they received at the Winter Meetings this week, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post.

A year ago, this would be an entirely different conversation. Darvish was coming off a disappointing debut season on the North Side in which he made eight starts and posted a 4.95 ERA in 40 innings. He didn’t throw a single big-league pitch after May 20 due to a lingering arm issue that led to surgery last November.

2019 was only Year 2 of the lucrative six-year contract Darvish signed in February 2018. But between the injury and his struggles before it that season, the narrative entering 2019 was shifting towards Darvish being a potential bust.

The narrative around Darvish is obviously much different now, thanks to the stellar second half performance he put together last season. In 13 starts, the 33-year-old delivered a 2.76 ERA, striking out 118 batters compared to a mere seven walks in 81 2/3 innings.

Not only was Darvish walking the walk, but he was talking the talk. He was determined to turn things around after posting a 5.01 ERA in the first half, asking then manager Joe Maddon to start the Cubs’ first game after the All-Star break. The result? Six innings of two-hit, no-run ball with eight strikeouts and one walk. Darvish's comeback was officially on.

Bust? Darvish is far from it now. He opted in to the remaining four years of his contract earlier this offseason, calling the Cubs "perfect" for him.

If the Cubs were entering a rebuild, fielding Darvish trade offers would make plenty of sense. He's owed $81 million through 2023, a bargain compared to the deals Gerrit Cole (nine years, $324 million — Yankees) and Stephen Strasburg (seven years, $245 million — Nationals) earned this offseason. Darvish's contract is desirable, and trading him would help alleviate the Cubs' notoriously tight payroll situation, freeing up money for them to put towards other needs.

But the Cubs aren’t rebuilding, and trading Darvish would create a tremendous hole in a rotation with plenty of uncertainty after next season. José Quintana is set to hit free agency after 2020 and Jon Lester could join him, if his 2021 option doesn’t vest (he must pitch 200 innings next season for that to occur). Heck, even Tyler Chatwood's deal is up after 2020.

In one season, Darvish has elevated himself to the No. 1 pitcher in the Cubs rotation. The Cubs won't be better next season if they trade Bryant or Contreras, but they'd still be competitive and acquire assets for the future.

One player doesn't make a team in baseball, but the Cubs need Darvish in their rotation, not someone else's. Unless they're absolutely blown away by a trade offer, Darvish isn't going anywhere.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream Cubs games easily on your device.

Sports Talk Live Podcast: MLB 2019 Winter Meetings come to an end

gammons.jpg
NBC Sports Chicago

Sports Talk Live Podcast: MLB 2019 Winter Meetings come to an end

SportsTalk Live is on location in San Diego for the final day of the MLB Winter Meetings.

0:00- Chuck Garfien, Tony Andracki and Vinnie Duber join Kap to recap the Winter Meetings. Tony was right-- the Cubs didn't make a move. Plus, should the White Sox have done more in San Diego?

12:00- Legendary baseball writer Peter Gammons joins Kap and Chuck. The talk about the price for pitching and what the Cubs might do with Kris Bryant. Plus, Gammons talks about a text he received saying the White Sox were talking with the Red Sox about Andrew Benintendi and David Price. Would that make sense for the Southsiders?

20:00- White Sox World Series winning closer Bobby Jenks joins Kap to discuss his emotional article in The Players Tribune. They discuss his injuries with the Red Sox, the back surgery that almost cost him his life and then his downward spiral into addiction.

Listen here or via the embedded player below:

Sports Talk Live Podcast

Subscribe: