When the Chicago Cubs brought in Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer in the offseason, it was expected a house cleaning would begin to take place. From front office positions, to the field, the dugout and the Cubs’ farm system, the new regime wanted to chart the Cubs on a course of a consistent winner.
There has been talk the Epstein-Hoyer tandem may trade Matt Garza, among others, at the deadline to further their re-tooling of the Cubs franchise. However, trading a pitcher such as Garza for prospects may not be necessary to strengthen the future of the Cubs’ playoff hopes.
The Cubs are in a unique position regarding the building of a winning organization. They can see the necessity of building a productive farm system just as Tampa Bay has, but they also have the income to lure free agents that fit their system to the Wrigley Field—players, ironically, such as Garza, who will be a free agent after the season.
Depending on where Epstein and Hoyer wish to begin their reconstruction of the organization, putting a winning team on the North Side may not take as long as what might have been expected.
If Epstein and Hoyer are focused on building up the Cubs’ minor league affiliates, then trading Matt Garza for some talented prospects is logical.
However, if they believe they can put a competitive team on the field in two to four years, then keeping Matt Garza is paramount.
It is on this premise that I believe the Cubs should not trade Matt Garza. Young talent and wise spending can turn the Cubs from a cellar dweller to a playoff contender—not a World Series contender—in a handful of years.
Note: This slideshow is predicated on Matt Garza not having told the Cubs GM he will not return to the team after this season.
Having a talented veteran pitcher such as Garza is essential to have in order to show the young call-up pitchers how to conduct themselves throughout a major league season.
But at the same time, Garza is young enough (28) that if the next Cubs playoff run comes in 2016, he will still be in the prime of his career.
Comprising a team with a majority of quality veterans with a handful of young prospects can be positive, but going too young can hamper a team’s chances in the playoffs.
The knowledge and experience of veteran players who know what is needed to perform under the pressure of the playoffs is crucial. The same can also be said of a pitching staff.
If a team has a staff mainly comprised of young pitchers, their playoff hopes will be dicey without the reliance of quality veterans.
While a young staff can grow up together and improve through regular season play, when the team makes the playoffs it will need the experience and knowledge of quality veteran pitchers such as Garza to serve as the backbone of the staff.
After the early events of this short season in the Bronx and at Fenway, you can guarantee quality pitchers in the upcoming offseason will go at a premium.
The New York and Boston franchises have proven they are not afraid to dole out huge contracts to top free agents—especially if that free agent is a quality, reliable starting pitcher.
If the Cubs choose to pull a slick baseball move in trading Garza for prospects and then try to sign him as a free agent to a long-term contract this offseason, it would be very sneaky and equally savvy. Nonetheless, it's a move I would not be in favor of.
Still, if the Cubs do decide to deal Garza in July and then pursue him as a free agent, the price of re-signing the pitcher would be higher in both years and salary—especially if the Yankees and Red Sox get involved in the negotiations—than if they were to work out a deal during the season to keep him for the foreseeable future.
Throughout his career, Matt Garza has been the definition of reliable.
Over the past four years, he has averaged more than 31 starts and nearly 200 innings per season, with five complete games the past two years.
A 15-day stint on the DL last season for a bone bruise in his elbow notwithstanding, Matt Garza can continue to be the workhorse of the Chicago Cubs for seasons to come.
As we Cubs fans have suffered through numerous injuries to our “aces” over the years, Matt Garza has the durability to finally halt our endless stream of ace pitchers’ trips to the DL if he is kept on the North Side.
As I stated, I understand the Cubs contemplating trading Matt Garza at the trade deadline—but it is a move I hope they do not make.
I know they have their eyes on the future, and making the Cubs organization a viable World Series contender for years to come is job No. 1.
Still, I do not see why dealing a talented veteran who can still help the team for the next five or so years would be a consideration.
Nevertheless, whatever the Cubs decide to do, I will accept it and hope for the best.