Cubs

Matt Garza's future includes 10.25 million deal with Cubs

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Matt Garza's future includes 10.25 million deal with Cubs

Matt Garza will make 10.25 million in his walk year before potentially cashing in as a free agent.

The Cubs reached an agreement on Thursday with perhaps their most marketable trade chip, leaving right-hander Jeff Samardzija and reliever James Russell as their two remaining arbitration cases. A team source confirmed the deal, which was first announced on Twitter by Garzas agency, CAA Sports.

Garza made 9.5 million last year, going 5-7 with a 3.91 ERA in 18 starts, but he didnt throw a pitch after July 21 because of a stress reaction in his right elbow. That killed his trade value, which wont be restored until he proves hes healthy again.

Garza has resumed a throwing program and sounded upbeat on his personal Twitter account. General manager Jed Hoyer has said that Garza should have no restrictions in spring training, while team president Theo Epstein expects the 29-year-old pitcher to be ready by Opening Day.

The Cubs arent going to move Garza as soon as hes made a few Cactus League starts. It sounds like the probable scenario is that he and his teammates will get a chance to jell in Arizona, a runway for a few months during the regular season, to show where theyre at before the front office would decide to become sellers.

On Wednesday, Epstein was asked a question about Garza and his standing in the organization once pitchers and catchers report to Mesa next month.

We teach our hitters to take like a yes, yes, yes, no approach, Epstein said, to be aggressive, as if every pitch is going to be a pitch they can drive until its not, and then they take it. Thats the same thing you do for a season. Once you get to spring training, youre there to win until youre not.

Now you never forget about the future. Youre always keeping one eye on the present, one eye on the future. And if theres ever a chance to add to the future without taking away from the current team, thats always something that you look to do. But, yeah, were competitive people and once you get to spring training youre trying to win.

Throughout the winter, there have been signals that Samardzija is not inclined to sign an extension right now. But Samardzija and Garza could make an interesting one-two punch at the top of the Cubs rotation.

ESPN to broadcast two of Cubs first four games in 2020

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AP

ESPN to broadcast two of Cubs first four games in 2020

It won't be long before baseball fans get their first look at the Cubs under new manager David Ross.

ESPN announced Thursday they will broadcast two of the Cubs' first four games in 2020: March 29 against the Brewers in Milwaukee (Sunday Night Baseball) and March 30 against the Pirates (3 p.m. first pitch). The latter game is the Cubs' 2020 home opener.

Ross worked as a color analyst for ESPN from 2017-19 before the Cubs hired him as manager in October. So, not only will his club be in the national spotlight early in the season, but his former co-workers will be the ones analyzing him as his managerial career kicks off.

The Cubs open the season on March 26 against the Brewers.

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Willson Contreras’ trade value just spiked, thanks to White Sox signing Yasmani Grandal

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USA TODAY

Willson Contreras’ trade value just spiked, thanks to White Sox signing Yasmani Grandal

This is the best thing the White Sox have done for the Cubs in years.

The White Sox made a big splash in free agency Thursday, signing catcher Yasmani Grandal to a four-year, $73 million contract. Grandal joins the South Siders from the Brewers, where he played an integral role in Milwaukee making a second-straight postseason appearance in 2019.

Grandal led qualified catchers in on-base percentage (.380) last season, also posting career highs in home runs (28) and RBIs (77). He’s also an excellent pitch framer, tying for fourth in RszC (runs saved by catcher framing) among all catchers with 9.

Milwaukee’s payroll reached a franchise-high $122.5 million in 2019 and their farm system (No. 29 in MLB, per Baseball America) is lacking. How they replace Grandal’s production is a major question mark, which in turn is a win for the Cubs this offseason.

But besides plucking him from the NL Central, the White Sox signing Grandal early in the offseason helps the Cubs, who have important decisions of their own to make.

Although Cubs president Theo Epstein said to take any trade rumors with a “mouthful of salt,” multiple teams believe catcher Willson Contreras is available for trade. The Cubs need to retool their roster and replenish a farm system that has been depleted in recent seasons from numerous “win now” trades.

The Cubs and White Sox made the notorious José Quintana trade in July 2017, but it’s unlikely the two would have matched up for a Contreras trade. The Cubs need young assets; trading away young assets is the last thing the White Sox want to do as their championship window opens.

So, Grandal landed with a team that was unlikely to be involved in any potential Contreras trade talks. Grandal was the best free agent catcher; Contreras is the best catcher that can be had in a trade.

Other teams interested in Grandal — such as the Reds — can no longer turn to him in free agency. The Rays have made addressing the catcher spot this winter a priority, but they have one of MLB’s lowest payrolls each season. Signing Grandal wasn’t going to happen, but Tampa Bay has the farm system (No. 2 in baseball, per MLB.com) to make a big trade.

Contreras is the best catcher available — for the right price, obviously — so the ball is in the Cubs' court. They don’t get better by dealing their two-time All-Star backstop, but Contreras’ trade value is high. With Grandal off the market, it just got even higher.

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