This is nothing new to Matt Garza, who has tried to block out the trade rumors for almost all of his professional life. All winter the speculation has been where the Cubs might deal one of their few marketable assets.
The Tigers were the latest team said to have interest in Garza, and those reports were shot down in Detroit. The Yankees and Red Sox seem unwilling to part with their best prospects.
Garza remains under club control for two more seasons and stands to make around 9 million this year through the arbitration process. If the Cubs dont think theyll truly compete until 2015, they could trade him for multiple prospects to restock the system.
But Theo Epstein has also repeatedly said that Garza is exactly the type of pitcher youd like to build around, and acknowledged the possibility of a contract extension. The president of baseball operations plans to talk to his best pitcher this weekend at the Cubs Convention.
Ive kept his representatives updated every step of the way to pass it on to Matt, Epstein said Wednesday. Lets try to downplay this. I can truly say more has happened in the media with this than has happened in reality. Its not been an everyday (thing). Theres no attempt to shop him.
As we do with all our players, were going to weigh all our options to see whats best for the Cubs. I think very highly of Matt Garza. I think hes a top-of-the-rotation-type guy and Im looking forward to him being on the mound for us this season.
But were just being transparent about the fact that, hey, were in this for the long haul. And sometimes it makes sense to weigh your options to see if you can bring something better for the long haul.
Almost exactly a year ago, the Cubs gave up five players to acquire Garza from the Tampa Bay Rays. This was a bold move former general manager Jim Hendry believed would help the team win now and in the future, because Garza was better than anyone else whod be on the free-agent market this winter.
Epstein knows what the 28-year-old right-hander once did in the American League East. Last season Garza went 10-10 with a 3.32 ERA and 197 strikeouts in 198 innings for a 91-loss Cubs team.
Garza could get traded, but it wont be a corresponding move because the Cubs just signed Paul Maholm. They also have four more starters on paper: Ryan Dempster, Randy Wells, Chris Volstad and Travis Wood. Plus, Jeff Samardzija will be stretched out in spring training, even though he may end up as a late-inning reliever.
But the plan all along has been to stockpile as many pitchers as possible, to avoid the disaster that happened when the Cubs lost 40 percent of their rotation during the first week of last season.
You never know whats going to happen over the course of the rest of the winter, general manager Jed Hoyer said, (or) whats going to be available to us. But a huge priority as weve said many times is building depth. We feel like weve really done that. You can never have enough pitching.
Garza, a high-energy player with a quirky personality, would be a reason to watch this team, which doesnt have much of a Q rating right now. And just because a player is rumored to be on his way out of town doesnt make it so.
It sounds like Kerry Wood will likely be back with the only team he wants to play for, and not chasing a World Series ring with the Philadelphia Phillies.
Weve said all along that we really want to get this done, Epstein said. It should be a no-brainer. Sometimes in the winter it gets more complicated, but we have a lot of things going for us, mainly that we want Kerry here. I sincerely want Kerry here. He sincerely wants to be a Cub.
Like I said before, if we cant figure this thing out, somethings wrong. Ill stand by that, so were going to continue to work on it and see what happens.