It’s Thursday, July 18, and Matt Garza remains a Cub.
Fix this, Theo.
Change this, Jed.
If I were Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer, I’d do the deal before Friday, when the Cubs resume their drive for next year’s top draft pick. I’d certainly do it by Tuesday morning, which is Garza’s next scheduled start. Point is, I’d do it before Garza gets another chance to put himself on the disabled list.
I don’t know if it’s fair to call Garza injury-prone, but he’s certainly a master of bad timing. Just look at last year’s elbow injury before the non-waiver trade deadline. Garza declared himself healthy this year, but landed on the disabled list with a lat injury that took him out of a spring training deal and kept him out until May.
Since returning, Garza pitched himself into the best trade target on the market. He has a 1.66 ERA in three July starts. In his last six, he’s posted an ERA of 1.24.
He also tied Jake Peavy as the most fragile trade target on the market. Look, probabilities are one of Epstein’s four major food groups, and Garza’s Cubs history suggests he probably will get hurt before the July 31 trade deadline.
He’s healthy now. He’s outstanding now. Trade him now.
Cubs wonks floated the idea of re-signing Garza to a long-term deal. Load of hooey, that was. I mean, if Garza was part of the Cubs’ future, he would be pitching the first game of the second half. Instead, he was pushed back in the rotation as far as possible to give Epstein and Hoyer the chance to trade him.
They need the extra time to allow a trade partner the chance to negotiate a long-term deal. That’s the only way the Cubs get prospects off the top shelf. No trade partner will give them much, if Garza is viewed as only a rental.
If you have two teams interested now, you can create a bidding war. If you don’t have two teams interested right now, maybe Garza isn’t worth what the Cubs think.
The Cubs might be running the risk of overplaying their hand. They also might be slowing down their very public plan to deal every asset who won’t be of value when the Cubs get good again.