COMMENTARY | It is being reported that the Chicago Cubs are talking with Matt Garza about a possible contract extension, which of course means he would forfeit his "best-pitcher-on-the-trade-market" title were that to happen.
Garza presents a complex scenario. There's no denying he is a quality pitcher -- three runs in his last 30 innings, 3.45 ERA overall -- and there is no bigger competitor the Cubs could hope to have. By almost all accounts, Garza is exactly the type of player an organization would want to build around.
I love Matt Garza as a member of the Cubs. And I can't bring myself to say I want the Cubs to ship him off for a few prospects, but his injury-ridden past is just too big of a red flag to say a long-term extension is the right thing to do. Counting on him to remain healthy in the long-term is too risky. Signing him to a short-term contract just seems silly since the Cubs won't contend for a couple of years and he won't command nearly the trade-return in two or three years.
Garza is still only 29, so he has plenty of viable years left. Further still, he's actually pitched the best baseball of his career during his tenure with the Cubs (when he has actually pitched). He is a career .500 pitcher (61-62) with an ERA just under 4 (3.82). He has had dominant stretches, but never for months at a time. And the sample size is now up to over 1000 innings, which is plenty enough to make the judgment.
Garza's performance over the last few weeks -- 3-1, 0.90 ERA, 19 hits in 30 innings -- has been stellar, but those numbers obviously won't hold and can really only go one direction. This little streak has raised his trade value quite a bit; it would also raise the money he would expect to get from an extension.
With the Cubs rebuilding, I have to admit that a healthy Garza paired with Travis Wood and Jeff Samardzija begins to make for a solid starting rotation, perhaps the start of a great one. The trade off is that Garza's trade value will never be higher than it is right now. Can you bet on Garza remaining healthy for the next two, three or four years while the Cubs work their way into contention?
I'm not sure I could.
Brian is a lifelong Chicago Cubs follower. Living in Illinois his entire life has given him a chance to closely follow and report Chicago sports as a freelance writer through Yahoo! Contributor and Yahoo! Sports. He is also a senior in college majoring in English and Creative Writing.
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