8:13 AM CDT, July 18, 2013
It’s Thursday, July 18, and Matt Garza remains a Cub.
Fix this, Theo.
Change this, Jed.
Do the deal, guys.
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 characterize Garza as 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 then 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 has pitched himself into the best trade target on the market. He has a 1.66 ERA in three July starts. In his last six outings, he has allowed six earned runs and 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 with Garza. 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, then you can create a bidding war. If you don’t have two teams interested right now, then maybe Garza isn’t worth what the Cubs think.
But there are no ifs about the idea that the longer this goes, the better the chance that Garza gets hurts again.
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. Garza is part of that club. Garza is the No. 1 starter on that club, and his next start should be in someone else’s laundry.
Anything else, and Epstein and Hoyer seem to be playing chicken with Garza’s injury history.
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