Hoyer says Cubs prefer to re-sign Garza

We know that Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer have talked about building a foundation of young players who are still in their prime years or younger.  They'd like to take on players with good predictive statistics and pay players based on future performance rather than past performance.  They'd also like to build around players with good character. And, of course, they want to build a deep pitching staff.  All of that would seem to bode well for someone like Matt Garza.

Yet it seemed like Garza was involved in rumors all winter.  The thought by many was that the Cubs could and should acquire younger, cost-controlled talent in exchange for a pitcher who's best years might come while the team is still rebuilding.  That may not be the case, per this tweet from ESPN's Jim Bowden,

Jed Hoyer told us today that they'd like to build around Matt Garza and hopefully sign him to long term deal rather than trading him

Of course it could be a ploy, but I don't think so.  Early on one rival GM said that he didn't think the Cubs really wanted to trade Garza.  We heard that all inquiries were met with astronomical asking prices.  It always seemed to me the Cubs were never as eager to trade Garza as we were sometimes led to believe.

One thing Hoyer said today during the game echoed something many of us have said here before.  The Cubs are a big market team. They can re-sign good players and that gives them an advantage over small market clubs like Hoyer's old team, the San Diego Padres. Hoyer said that with the Padres, you knew you were going to eventually lose your best players, but that needn't be the case here in Chicago.

Garza could be one such player the Cubs choose to keep.  Garza had an excellent 2011 when you discount things he can't control, like win totals.  If you use stats like xFIP, FIP, or DIPS or SIERA...all statistics which attempt to measure a pitcher's performance independent of the team around him, Garza was among the leauge leaders, even the top 10 in some cases.  He finished 8th in FIP last year, for example, ahead of such names as Daren Haren, Zach Greinke, Justin Verlander, Tim Lincecum, Felix Hernandez and Cole Hamels

So he has the kind of numbers the Cubs like and he's also the right age at 28.  He's likely to continue to perform at a high level for 5-7 years if he stays healthy.

And if you do trade him, there's always the danger of not getting enough back.  As I stated in an earlier article, the history for trading top starters for minor leaguers hasn't been all that good.  Yes you get top prospects, but rarely have they been as good as advertised and rarer still have they turned out better than the pitcher they were traded for.  Click this link to see some of those deals to which I'm referring.

The Cubs may have been lucky already not to pull the trigger on a couple of deals with rumored interested teams.  Jacob Turner, the main piece rumored to be coming back to the Cubs from the Tigers, has really struggled in spring training, not just with numbers, but with command and dropping velocity.  Later it was found he was having arm issues and he was shut down.  The same holds true for Anthony Ranaudo, arguably the Red Sox best pitching prospect and a guy the Cubs would have almost certainly have wanted as part of any package for Garza.

One last factor is the Cubs have had a chance to see Matt Garza on a day-to-day basis, not just in terms of stuff but also in terms of what kind of person he is and whether he's someone the Cubs will want to build around.  There have been stories that Garza and manager Dale Sveum have become quite friendly and talk all the time, sometimes about baseball but also non-baseball subjects.  Garza has been very vocal in support of his teammates, to the point where Sveum once jokingly asked him to leave.  Early in his career, there had been some concerns about Garza's character and maturity, but it appears he has grown up and in some ways, is becoming a leader on this transitioning pitching staff.

But ultimately it's his performance on the mound that matters most and after Garza shut down a tough Texas lineup that featured most of their starters with relative ease, Sveum was very impressed.  There's no question he's the best pitcher on the team, even if Ryan Dempster is the guy who gets the opening day nod.

Of course, you never quite know what this front office is really thinking but it does seem Garza fits the profile of the kind of player the Cubs would like to build around and, unlike his time in San Diego, Hoyer has the means to re-sign him if he chooses.  If the Cubs keep Garza, maybe that speeds up their timetable just a little bit.  Not that Garza is going to drop off the face of the Earth anytime soon, but he'll probably be 30 by the time the Cubs are truly ready to compete and that gives them a 3-4 year window for him to continue to put up good numbers until his skills will likely start to decline.

Could the Cubs still trade Garza? Absolutely, particularly if the two sides can't come to terms or a team comes along and blows Jed and Theo away. But top young starters aren't easy to come by and maybe the Cubs have decided they should hang on to the one they already have.

Filed under: Rumors

Tags: Jed Hoyer, Matt Garza


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    I have to admit I was on the fence about trading Garza. The more I think about it though, the more I think they should keep him. I also like the plan to pay for future performance, not past. Hopefully the Cubs continue to get younger and when the time comes, the FO knows they have the means to go after what they need to reach every Cub fan's ultimate goal, winning the World Series.

  • I'm with you there, Ray. I understand the argument for both sides. I just wonder if the Cubs realized they weren't going to get enough value back for Garza in comparison to what he would likely mean for the Cubs over the next 5 years.

    Teams have put a premium on cost control, to the point where they'd rather trade for a lesser pitcher to get that. I think many teams see "two years" with Garza instead of a 28 year old guy in his prime who put up numbers with the best pitchers in baseball last year. Not sure if the emphasis on cost control is the right philosophy for every team, but that's the trend right now in baseball. Even the Yankees and Red Sox want to be the Rays, lately.

    My guess is the Cubs did their due diligence and explored it, didn't like the offers out there so it never got serious...and then decided it was best to keep him and turn him into a long term asset rather than trade him for what they think is less than fair value.

  • Really a well written piece. Makes me think what my grandfather used to say in situations like this when teams were looking to trade guys for value. Why would you want to get rid of your good players?
    Interesting article on the web page for yahoo about what pitchers do against the best competition. It is a study last year as how starters did for the season against other teams #3 hitters in the lineup. Garza ranked 4th in all of baseball, ahead of guys like Kershaw and Verlander. He held #3 hitters to an amazing .161 average and .240 obp. By contrast, Rodrigo Lopez was at .414 average and a .481 obp.
    When I saw that the Turner kid was being shut down, thought boy I bet the Tigers wish they had pulled the trigger on that deal. I believe what happens often is teams nowadays are so programmed to hype their prospects and their farm systems, with the goal to get maximum value in trade situations, they start to believe themselves that these kids are much better than they really are or can be. Really, the odds of a kid like Turner ever having the success that Garza has had is probably around 10%.

    Was talking with a guy who does work for the Cardinals and knows a lot of front office guys. He told me that one of them was remarking about their hyped up prospect Shelby Miller. When the kid came to camp this year, he weighed around 175 pounds, looked like a high schooler. Started getting knocked around even in the minor league scrimmages, and when you talk to him, guy said it was like talking to his high school sophmore son. Very immature. Gave him pause as to how much growing up he had to do before he could even come close to being a big leaguer. But if you read all the prospect lists, he is a can't miss. Real crap shoot as to which ones will be the stars and which ones will never make, and very difficult to project.

  • Thanks CubbieRon...and Exactly, I think your grandfather had it right. Why trade your best players? To which I would add, especially when they're still young and the team can afford to keep them?

    I'd understand it if the Cubs got a package of 3-4 top prospects, then they'd have to do it. But I've seen the idea of equating fair value to one -- just one -- lower top 100 prospect for Garza. I understand the analysis and how it's broken down in terms of production vs. salary earned. It's all very calculated and rational. Yet it's still laughable to me. If that's what teams think Garza is worth, then I'd rather they keep their prospect and wish them luck. We'll take the proven pitcher who'll sit near the top of just about any rotation.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    The Cubs may be saying this publically, and may really want to keep him but come 4 months from now and a team is right in the thick of it and needs a top arm to get em thru..Someone will give the Cubs a ransom for Garza, book it!! That being said i'm not so eager to trade him as I once was because he's damn good and he could make us better much quicker.

  • In reply to Luigi Ziccarelli:

    Agree and I'm not discounting that idea at all. My stance has always been that the Cubs only trade Garza for a package of top prospects but I've never been overly optimistic that another team will step up and give them that. I do think a mid-season deal would be more likely. Teams look at things differently once they're in the race and either lose a pitcher or realize that they're staff isn't going to be good enough. If a team is willing to pay a high price for Garza, I believe it's more likely to happen in the summer than the spring.

  • Ok before I start I like Garza I think he is a good pitcher, but He isnt a #1. Most professionals view him at a average #2 or very good #3, that I have talked too. I am not saying that is a bad thing because there are less then 10 true #1 in baseball right now.

    I also disagree with the fact the re signing him will speed up the rebuilding process. The rebuild will be sped up through trades and good drafts. Resigning a player at the age of 28 (which I understand is a prime age) when the clubs is honesty about 3 to 4 yrs aways is putting that player at the ends of his prime of his career.

    But I do understand to trade Garza they have to get enough back and may not be able to get that. I am a realist I know this is not a black and white situation but the Cubs have to be open to everything to fix the train wreck they were left with. The Key to the Cubs rebuild to the cubs rebuild is not to fall in love with players and to look at every player as an asset. Whether that asset will be more useful now or for the Future. I think they have done a good job so far.

  • In reply to WickitCub:

    They've done a great job so far..This comment by Hoyer could be both true and false...The Cubs front office have let us and other teams run wild with our imaginations this offseason throwing up smoke screens and never admitting anything or denying anything..It will be intersting to see how it plays out..I still think he'll be moved for a steep price.

  • In reply to WickitCub:

    I talk to people in the industry and I know exactly how they feel about Garza. And while it does vary somewhat, nobody thinks he's a #1 at this point. And it's exactly why the Cubs shouldn't trade him. Not that they should feel he's a #1 guy, but I think too many people are willing to say just because Garza's is worth a #3 with just two years of control to some teams that the Cubs should settle for that kind of value in return. That would be a terrible deal for the team's future and will do little for the rebuilding process if anything at all. The Cubs know this and that's why they won't take that kind of deal.

    This piece is certainly not about falling in love with a player and, of course, you look at everything as an asset -- but you have to weigh what it's worth. Is Garza worth more than say one 75th ranked prospect? I think so. Would rather have Garza on a 5 yr team friendly deal than roll the dice on a 2nd or 3rd tier prospect whose ceiling is less than Garza's current level of performance. Wouldn't you?

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I believe the Jays and Rangers will need SP at the deadline because they both will be in contention at the deadline. I also believe that the Cubs can get a package of 3 to 4 prospects for Garza or Garza and another piece.

    The Cubs could come out in a better position then keeping Garza. It is my opinion that the Cubs would looking at player like : From the Rangers Mike Olt, Martin Perez, Niel Ramirez, Robbie Ross, and Miguel De Los Santos. From The Jays Deck Mcguire, Syndergaard, Jake Marisnick, Nicolino, Daniel Norris,and Gose.

  • In reply to WickitCub:

    I think if you can get a package with 3-4 prospects you like, then it makes sense. So far I don't think anyone's come close to offering a package the Cubs would like. That could change as the season goes and if they can get a few of the players you mentioned, I'd be happy with that.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    The Offseason is a bad time to do trades with deep farm systems. They have the belief they can fix issues internally and dont like trading player they think they could use during the season (and I dont blame them). The deadline is when most teams are willing to part with prospects.

  • In reply to WickitCub:

    An average 2 or very good 3 is a very harsh assessment. I'm not a professional baseball guy, but I see him as a very good #2 with potential to be an average #1. If not, I'd like to see the list of 29 other #1's who are better. I'm not saying he's a top tier ace, but an "average #2" ???? That statement suggests there are 45 better MLB pitchers out there.

  • In reply to Cubswin4harry:

    there arent 30 #1's in baseball, theres a lot less than that, probably 15 max.

  • I also think the front office know what they have in Garza and won't trade him for anything less than deserved. I'm guessing that there is some probability # that predicts prospect success. Something like "30% of top pitching prospects realize MLB success" (I hope it's more refined than that). And that Theo/Jed won't take anything less than the appropriate # of top prospects to reasonably assure them that at least one will become a successful pitcher/everyday starter. If I had to throw a number at it, I'd say at least 2 near ready pitching prospects who project as #1 or #2 starters plus a couple of lower level, high ceiling guys. I've seen way too many Felix Pie/Corey Patterson/Angel Guzman types to simply take one top prospect and hope it works out...

  • In reply to Cubswin4harry:

    Agreed. Cubs have to minimize their risk by getting more prospects in return. I understand that if one pans out and turns out to be a #3 starter that overall that provides better value, but the Cubs have to make sure they get multiple good prospect to make sure they at least get that much.

  • On a different subject, is anybody else really concerned about DeJesus? He looks completely inept at the plate right now to me.

    Some other things I see so far. Barney is much stronger, more mature, and will hit a lot better this year. If they can get Stewart to go the other way and not try to pull everything, he can be solid.
    Byrd looks like he is 27 again, expect him to be great in the field and have a fine season. I am not worried about LaHair, think he hits 25 homers this year with a .270 average.
    Wells will be excellent coming out of the pen. Castillo has off the charts upside, can throw strikes with all his pitches with nasty movement. Wish they could find a way to make a deal so they could send him down and make him a starter.
    Volstad will make us all say Carlos who?

  • I'm a little concerned. If he hadn't had such a down year last year, I'd write it off, but he did struggle and I hope it's not a sign of things to come.

    I hope you're right about Barney and the rest as it would mean a good year for the Cubs as far as record and also possibly being able to deal Byrd sometime this year.

  • John, I have been writing you with my concerns about the Cubs corners...,Cubs needing them to be "Average" for the Cubs to be in the hunt. Now I add DeJesus to the list. He looks totally lost at the plate..,and he's our default leadoff man. NOT GOOD for Sveum.., cause the offense starts there. We just picked him up,,,not likely to trade him so...WHAT ARE OUR OPTIONS???? Maybe alternate DeJesus and Campana at leadoff????

  • In reply to rakmessiah:

    I'll cut DeJesus a little slack right now. He's a vet and you don't want to make too much of a bad spring. It could mean a problem, but it could just as easily mean nothing. The Cubs need to take a wait and see approach there. Now if he's hitting .220 in June, then the Cubs may have to make that change.

    But if you're concerned about DeJesus, then why not Campana? Campana's OBP is about 50 points less than DeJesus' right now. He really hasn't made hard contact all spring and he has no track record to really indicate it's just a fluke. I honestly don't think Campana is the answer there.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I think it makes sense to platoon Dejesus and Reed Johnson in RF. Dejesus struggles against LHP anyway. Johnson is pretty old but coming off a good season and can also be slotted in the leadoff spot if necessary when he starts. Maybe not a strict platoon, give a few extra starts to whoever is hot at the time. I like the idea of doing the same thing at 3B with Stewart and Baker, especially in light of Stewart's struggles last year and his wrist--let him get some rest and use him in a way in which he's more likely to succeed.

  • In reply to SVAZCUB:

    Johnson does hit lefties really well and if DeJesus struggles, wouldn't be surprised to see RJ steal some ABs as the season goes on.

    Agree with you on Stewart. Like you said, not a strict platoon, but some occasional rest, especially considering how well Baker hits lefties.

  • I'm not too worried about DeJesus, right now it could mean nothing, I think he'll be solid, as he always has been. As for Garza, this could very well be Hoyer and Epstein pumping him up for a later trade or it could mean they are going to sign him to a long term deal, you just never know with those two

  • Yep, re-signing Garza is definitely the right move, assuming he'll be fair in naming a figure. It would be one thing if we had a bunch of 21-year-old flamethrowers in Iowa, just waiting for their chance. But that's definitely not the case with the Cubs.

    He may not be a true No. 1, but Garza is still an above average ace among teams under .500, which the Cubs are expected to be.

    Unlike the NBA and NFL, there's not much point in tanking a season just to get a high draft pick.

    The eagerness to re-sign Garza may be a subtle sign Jed and Theo are optimistic about how quickly the Cubs can become a contender. If they thought it would take five years, then there's not much point in re-signing him. Rather, if they thought the Cubs were 2 - 3 years away, absolutely.

    Of course, that formulation would require that BJax and Rizzo both pan out, that Castro becomes a perennial All-Star and that the bullpen gets shored up. But these don't seem quite so far-fetched, and in 2013 and 2014, the Cubs will have the money to address their weaknesses with elite free agents.

  • I would trade Daren Haren for Mattza Garza anytime.

  • In reply to MrDizzle:

    That's high praise. I'm a big fan of Haren.

  • Wait, what? It's Dan Haren, isn't it? Although a quick Google reveals that he's been called Daren a few times before...I'm confused.

  • In reply to MrDizzle:

    FWIW though, I think Dan Haren is the better pitcher right now.

  • In reply to MrDizzle:

    Haha! It is Dan. But I know who you meant.

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