Could Cubs trade Garza for Rizzo?

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Could Cubs trade Garza for Rizzo?

With the Reds-Padres trade Saturday, there was some speculation San Diego's top first base prospect Anthony Rizzo could be on the trading block and that the Cubs could have interest.

Matt Garza's name has been involved in trade talks as well this offseason, most notably with the Rangers during the winter meetings in Dallas earlier this month.

Both of those talks are picking up more now as Jim Bowden of ESPN and MLB Network Radio tweeted out in the wee hours of Sunday morning:

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JIM BOWDENPadres have interest in a package deal with the primary trade pieces being Anthony Rizzo and Matt Garza...should be interesting in Cubs view
Dec 18 via webFavoriteRetweetReply

Hard to see the Cubs trading him, especially as Jed Hoyer and Theo Epstein continue to express a desire to improve the team's run prevention, which obviously includes the starting rotation. It wouldn't fit with that strategy for the new Theo Trio to send away their best pitcher.

But then again, if the Cubs were to trade Garza for anybody, Rizzo may be one of the top guys.

Jason McLeod drafted Rizzo in Boston and then Theo sent the young first baseman to San Diego (where Hoyer was GM) in the package for superstar Adrian Gonzalez.

All three are familiar with the 22-year-old and they're all high on him. He could be a team cornerstone for years to come.

Rizzo struggled in the 49 games he appeared in with the Padres last season, but considering the 1.056 OPS he put up in Triple-A last year, he appears to be ready to take over a Major League position at the start of the season.

The Cubs do need a first baseman (especially if all this Prince Fielder talk really is a media smokescreen) but it would still be really hard to trade Garza. There would likely be other pieces to the puzzle and more players coming back to Chicago than just Rizzo.

Cubs expect Ben Zobrist and Addison Russell to be ready for Opening Night

Cubs expect Ben Zobrist and Addison Russell to be ready for Opening Night

MESA, Ariz. – The Cubs expect Ben Zobrist and Addison Russell to be ready for Opening Night, downplaying any health concerns about their All-Star middle infielders. 

One week out from facing the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium, manager Joe Maddon spent part of Sunday's media session saying how he had no concerns with his World Series MVP's stiff neck and his franchise shortstop's stiff back.

"You can tell with 'Zo,'" Maddon said at the Sloan Park complex. "He'll come around and let me know specifically if he feels it's going to be anything longer than that. He's talking either tomorrow night or the next day."

Zobrist, who spent nine seasons with Maddon's Tampa Bay Rays, hasn't appeared in a Cactus League game since March 19. Maddon also signaled Russell is close to returning to action after being a late scratch from Friday's lineup.

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Not like this, but the Cubs already planned to schedule extra rest for Zobrist, given his age (36 in May), the playoff stress on his body from back-to-back World Series titles and emerging options like Javier Baez on a mix-and-match team. 

All along, Maddon hasn't worried about finding enough at-bats for Baez, knowing that injuries are inevitable and the Cubs have insurance policies up and down the roster that should pay off across a 162-game season. But in this case, it doesn't sound like the Cubs are testing that theory with Zobrist and Russell.

"None of this stuff is really threatening," Maddon said. "The trainers have no real strong issues with anything. It's almost like you'll be overly cautious right now. And that's all we're doing."

Brett Anderson’s personality mixing well with Cubs: ‘I don’t hate anybody yet’

Brett Anderson’s personality mixing well with Cubs: ‘I don’t hate anybody yet’

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – Joe Maddon's T-shirt slogans can get a little old at times, but the Cubs manager found a new audience in Brett Anderson, who liked the idea of "Be Uncomfortable" after signing a one-year, prove-it deal with the defending champs.

"It's been awesome so far," Anderson said. "That's my running joke – we're a month into it now or whatever it is – and I don't hate anybody yet.

"That's a testament to the group as a whole – and maybe me evolving as a person."

Yes, Anderson's sarcasm, social-media presence and groundball style fits in with a team built around short-term pitching and Gold Glove defense. The if-healthy lefty finished his Cactus League tour on Saturday afternoon by throwing four innings (one unearned run) during a 7-4 loss to the Colorado Rockies in front of 13,565 at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick.

Anderson will open the season as the No. 4 starter after a camp that has been remarkably low-key and drama-free.

"I'm kind of cynical by nature, but it's a fun group to be a part of," Anderson said, "(with) young guys that are exciting and happy to be here. And then obviously the mix of veterans, too, that are here with intentions of winning another World Series."

To make that happen, the pitching staff will have to again stay unbelievably healthy. Anderson rolled with a general question about how he physically feels now compared to where he's usually at by this time of year.

"Obviously better than last year, because I was walking with a gimp and all that stuff," said Anderson, who underwent arthroscopic surgery to repair a bulging disk in his lower back last March. "No, my body feels good, my arm feels good and you're getting into the dog days of spring training where you're itching to get to the real thing."