The deal: Hendrys pursuit of Garza finally pays off


The deal: Hendrys pursuit of Garza finally pays off

Saturday, Jan. 8, 2011
7:00 PM

By Patrick Mooney

Matt Garza had seen his name mentioned in trade rumors, but the news still caught him off-guard. For Jim Hendry, the pursuit of this front-line starter had been all-consuming.

By Hendrys count, he had spoken to Andrew Friedman every day except Christmas and New Years across the past month. It was more than just a wild idea bounced around the lobby of a Disney World resort during the winter meetings.

The Rays executive was motivated to sell and looking toward his teams next window of opportunity competing directly against the industrys superpowers in Boston and New York.

Years from now, maybe pitcher Chris Archer and shortstop Hak-Ju Lee will help form the core of the next great team in Tampa. Those two prospects were key pieces in an eight-player trade made official Saturday.

But the Cubs see Garza, 27, paying immediate dividends. They view him as a proven playoff performer, someone who will help lift them into contention next season and beyond.

Garza will be under team control for the next three seasons. And by 2014, when the 6-foot-4-inch, 215-pound right-hander will first be eligible for free agency, no one knows where this franchise will be. For the Cubs general manager, this deal strikes a balance.

We look at this as a great trade for the present and the future, Hendry said on a teleconference. Were not giving away the farm trying to win this year. That couldn't be farther from the truth with a guy like Matt Garza.

With all the physicals complete, the Cubs will also receive Fernando Perez, a 27-year-old outfielder who was educated at Columbia University, has major-league experience, and can run and play defense. They also get left-hander Zachary Rosscup, 22, who went 3-1 with a 2.64 ERA in 12 appearances last season in the low minors.

The price included Archer, Lee, converted catcher Robinson Chirinos, and outfielders and Brandon Guyer and Sam Fuld. Thats not unreasonable for a No. 2 starter who will earn around 6 million this season through arbitration especially since Hendry felt he was competing against four or five other teams for Garza.

The Cubs are confident that their system and their financial resources are deep enough to absorb the loss of Archer, who was the organizations 2010 minor league pitcher of the year after going 15-3 with a 2.34 ERA during a season split between Class-A Daytona and Double-A Tennessee.

He aspires to be someone like Garza in a few years, and we hope that happens, Hendry said. The names change every year. The Rays had every right to expect a guy like him.

The Cubs once liked a free agent named Ted Lilly because he was competitive, durable and proven in the American League East. In moving from a brutal division to the weaker National League Central, there is a reasonable expectation that Garza can annually win 15 games, make 30 starts and account for 200 innings.

Manager Mike Quade and pitching coach Mark Riggins are two baseball lifers who spent decades in the minor leagues waiting for this opportunity. They already had options as they looked at the 2011 rotation: Andrew Cashner, Tom Gorzelanny, Randy Wells, Carlos Silva, Casey Coleman and Jeff Samardzija.

But that group is labeled with question marks, the uncertainty of whether they have the stuff and confidence to remain healthy and productive for an entire season. Garza, a former first-round pick with an ALCS MVP award and a no-hitter on his resume, gives them a better chance to win, now and later.

Garza whos 34-31 with a 3.86 ERA since 2008 should be a building block for what could be an even bigger offseason at this time next year.

The Cubs could free up to nearly 40 million in payroll through buyouts, declined options and expiring contracts for Aramis Ramirez, Kosuke Fukudome, John Grabow, Silva and Samardzija.

Carlos Pena, Garzas teammate in small-market Tampa, and Kerry Wood are working on one-year deals worth roughly a combined 11.5 million. Ryan Dempster and Carlos Zambrano could be free agents after the 2012 season. The money will be there if Garza wants it.

Garza is an emotional pitcher who says that he has matured, that he wanted this trade completed before the season started so that he could get his three children settled. Soon we will find out if this only looked good on paper.

(The Rays) gave me the opportunity and stuck behind me through the good and the bad. Its a shame it had to be like that, but its the nature of the beast, Garza said. (Now) lets try to get this turned around in the right direction. We have a lot of pieces of the puzzle.

PatrickMooney is's Cubs beat writer. FollowPatrick on Twitter @CSNMooneyfor up-to-the-minute Cubs news and views.

Cubs chairman Tom Rickets gave David Ross the coolest decoration for his office

Cubs chairman Tom Rickets gave David Ross the coolest decoration for his office

There are cool office decorations, and their office decorations that blow casual ones out of the water.

A souvenir in Cubs manager David Ross' Wrigley Field falls into the latter category.

Ross posted photos on Instagram Saturday revealing he has the first W flag to hang over Wrigley after the Cubs won the 2016 World Series in his office. He says team chairman Tom Ricketts gave it to him for the office.

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Now, imagine what that flag would go for on eBay.

All jokes aside, you've got to think that flag will end up in some Cubs museum one day. For now, it's in safe hands.


2020 MLB season: Tracking players who have opted out or declined to play

2020 MLB season: Tracking players who have opted out or declined to play

With Major League Baseball attempting to play the 2020 season with COVID-19 afflicting the nation, players have the option to not participate this year. 

Those considered “high-risk” for the coronavirus — per MLB’s agreement with the MLBPA — can opt out and receive salary and service time. Those who are not can decline to play but may not receive salary and service time. Teams may offer both to players who live with high-risk individuals, however.

Here is a running list of players who will sit out this season:

Mike Leake — Diamondbacks pitcher

On June 29, Leake became the first player to announce he will sit out. His agent said he and his family took “countless factors into consideration.” MLB insider Jon Heyman said the right-hander will not be paid this season, meaning he doesn’t fall under the high-risk designation.

Leake was positioned to compete for a spot in Arizona’s rotation and will become a free agent if they decline his $18 million 2021 option.

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Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman and pitcher Joe Ross 

Zimmerman joined Leake in announcing his decision on June 29. The longtime National cited family circumstances — three kids, including a newborn, and his mother being high-risk. He made it clear he is not retiring, but he's set to become a free agent after this season.

On the same day Zimmerman announced his decision, the Nationals revealed Ross also decided not to play. The club’s statement cited “the personal health and safety of themselves and their loved ones” in both players’ decisions. Ross is arbitration eligible through 2021.

Rockies outfielder Ian Desmond

Desmond also revealed he won’t play this year on June 29. He posted a powerful Instagram message discussing racial inequality in baseball, from Little League to MLB. It’s heartfelt and worth a read:

View this post on Instagram

On my mind.

A post shared by Ian Desmond (@i_dez20) on

Free agent pitcher Tyson Ross 

On July 2, Heyman reported Ross joined his brother Joe in deciding not to play. Tyson Ross was with the Giants and in contention for a swingman job before San Francisco released him in late June, shortly after MLB lifted its transaction freeze.

Nationals catcher Welington Castillo

Castillo became the third Nationals player to decide to sit out. Nationals manager Dave Martinez said on July 3 the former Cubs and White Sox catcher was hesitant to play because he has young children.

Dodgers pitcher David Price

Price announced on July 4 he will be sitting out this year, saying it’s in the “best interest of my health and my family’s health.” He joined Los Angeles over the offseason in a trade from the Red Sox with Mookie Betts.

Prior to his decision, Price donated $1,000 to every Dodgers minor leaguer in June.

Braves pitcher Félix Hernández

Hernández' agent announced on July 4 the former Cy Young Award winner will sit out this year. Hernández was vying for a spot in Atlanta’s rotation. 

Braves outfielder Nick Markakis

Markakis announced his decision to sit out on July 6. He said his family, as well as teammate Freddie Freeman contracting a rough case of COVID-19, influenced his thinking.

“Just to hear him, the way he sounded on the phone, it was tough, it was kind of eye-opening,” Markakis said of Freeman.

Pirates pitcher Héctor Noesí

The Pirates revealed on July 8 Noesí elected not to play for family reasons. He was on a minor league deal.

Giants catcher Buster Posey

Posey, the Giants longtime backstop and three-time champion, revealed Friday he won’t be playing this year. The 33-year-old and his wife recently adopted premature twin girls.

White Sox pitcher Michael Kopech

The White Sox announced Friday evening Kopech will not play this year. The 24-year-old hadn’t arrived at Summer Camp due to personal reasons prior to Friday’s news.

MORE: White Sox pitcher Michael Kopech decides not to participate in 2020 season

"Michael Kopech has informed us of his decision to not participate in the 2020 season," White Sox general manager Rick Hahn said in a statement. "We recognize that reaching this decision is incredibly difficult for any competitive athlete, and our organization is understanding and supportive.

"We will work with Michael to assure his development continues throughout 2020, and we look forward to welcoming him back into our clubhouse for the 2021 season."