Matt Garza still a Cub; deal with Rangers doesn’t materialize
BY GORDON WITTENMYER email@example.com July 20, 2013 12:19AM
Right-hander Matt Garza is a red-hot commodity on the trade market. He’s 5-0 with a 1.24 ERA in his last six starts. | Paul Beaty/AP
CUBS AT ROCKIES
The facts: 7:10 p.m., Ch. 9, 720-AM.
The starters: Carlos Villanueva
(2-5, 3.59 ERA) vs. Tyler Chatwood (5-3, 2.56).
Updated: August 21, 2013 6:19AM
DENVER — Breaking news: Matt Garza is still a Cub.
After more than 12 hours of breathless, Twitter-fed anticipation of a reportedly imminent trade to the Texas Rangers, the Cubs’ game Friday night at Colorado opened with one of the hottest starting pitchers in baseball in a holding pattern — and still in a Cubs uniform.
A major-league source confirmed the Cubs and Rangers discussed a six-player trade, but contrary to early reports Friday, the deal didn’t get “close” enough to pass a review of medical records.
Top Cubs officials downplayed and dismissed reports throughout the day.
One Cubs source said a “mystery” National League team could intercept Garza. The Washington Nationals appeared to be that team, but a major-league source close to the Nats’ front office said the team is unwilling to take what’s left of Garza’s $10.25 million salary.
Garza — who still is expected to be traded by the time his scheduled turn in the Cubs’ rotation comes Monday — did a full between-starts regimen Friday afternoon as he awaits word of a trade.
“When [the phone] rings, it’ll be real,” he said. “You just keep going about your business.”
Garza, who has been traded twice in his career, acknowledged his agent was told by the team to expect a trade. Until then, he’s keeping his mind on a potential start Monday at Arizona, he said.
“Last year they told me something could happen,” said Garza, who was on the verge of being traded to the Rangers until suffering a season-ending elbow injury in late July. “The year before that something could and did happen. Year before that, it was something that could happen. So my past has been a lot of ‘coulds.’ ’’
The Cubs already are preparing a contingency in case of a trade before Monday, looking at recently acquired right-hander Jake Arrieta, a team official said, along with left-hander Chris Rusin.
Arrieta looked exceptional in his last start at Class AAA Iowa last week, striking out nine in a powerful six-inning performance against an Albuquerque team that had roughed him up in his first, rain-interrupted start with the organization.
“We’ll cross that bridge when we get to it, but we’re not worried about it right now,” Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. “More than 50 percent of all trades never come through anyway. There’s no use in my world of dealing with it.”
In a clubhouse full of players on the trading block, nobody is more certain to be traded this month than Garza. Another dozen or so scouts were at Coors Field on Friday, representing teams that included Arizona, San Francisco, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and the Yankees. Many of the scouts plan to follow the team into next week’s series in Arizona.
The Cubs have asked a high price for Garza — the top commodity on the trade market — since fielding offers weeks ago. Several major-league sources say Garza’s recent injury history (including two elbow bone-related injuries) makes some teams balk at considering him a long-term extension candidate in a trade.
The high price becomes a bigger issue if he’s considered a 2½-month rental, especially after the Los Angeles Angels paid a steep price for Zack Greinke last July, then didn’t make the playoffs and failed to keep Greinke with an extension.
Garza is 5-0 with a 1.24 ERA in his last six starts.
“I’m just going to keep going until a ‘could’ turns into a ‘does,’ ” Garza said, “I’ll keep to a nice time-old saying from “Finding Nemo”: ‘Just keep swimming, guys.’ That’s it. Keep swimming.”